YES Alumni Bangladesh held the closing ceremony to their project, 3.5 Billion Reasons
28th April, 2017, Dhaka - In November, 2015, twenty brave teenage girls from different rural to less-developed parts of Bangladesh came together for something brilliant. With the guidance of 10 university-going “Big Sisters”, these girls attended a two-day workshop on identifying women’s problems all over Bangladesh, recognizing the vitality of higher education, and developing leadership skills to empower women and girls in their own communities. Last Friday marked the end of this remarkable journey. At BRAC Learning Center on 28th April, 2017, YES Alumni Bangladesh held the closing ceremony to their project, 3.5 Billion Reasons, with certificates, sharing of experiences, and a photo exhibition. YES Alumni Bangladesh is the community of alumni of the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study program, which is a ten-month-long exchange program for high school teenagers funded by the United States Department of State. The students who successfully complete the exchange program then come home to join the YES Alumni Association in Bangladesh, which has a focus on conducting community-service and voluntary projects. 3.5 Billion Reasons was one such project led by member YES Alumnus Mustahsin Islam. From the workshop that was conducted in November, the participant girls went home to do their own projects to bring what they learned from the workshop into life. Five months later, the participants, the mentors, the organizers and honorable guests gathered to mark the closure of the project and reflect on what was learned through it. Many participants shared their stories of having to defy traditional gender roles set by their own teachers and elders in the community to participate in the project, and reported to go back home do workshops of their own - on standing against child marriage, continuing higher education, and leadership. Many even started their own educational and extracurricular clubs. The project was marked as a success in teaching young girls leadership and growing awareness of women’s problems in society and how to fight them.