Suma grew up in a very poor family in Chittagong, Bangladesh. Her father had leprosy. Suma studied at school for only five years because her family could not afford for her to continue. Their financial position remained difficult until Suma joined the TLM-supported Saikat self-help group.
Through the self-help group Suma received embroidery training and training in leadership. "The embroidery training included learning how to deal with customers, collecting orders and how to respond to their wishes. The leadership course taught me how to be a chairperson for a group – managing loans and accounting books, collecting repayments and running the group so everyone feels included and motivated." She also learned about gender rights and how to advocate for herself and others. "After the training I understood what my rights are and where to go to preserve them."
Through the embroidery training Suma gained a skill that gives her income. "I am able to fulfill the desire people have to beautify themselves! I like being part of that process. It’s hard work at times but I am able to do it because I have patience and also lots of artistic ideas." It takes around three days for Suma to make a complicated piece of embroidery on a piece of clothing, which she can sell for 800 taka making about 400 taka profit.
Since then Suma has been able to earn more and even save some money. "Before I was in the group I was never able to buy my own things. Now I can buy much of what I want. It’s much better." She has also received a loan from the group to study business.
"My dream is to develop a workshop to produce fancy clothes, plus I want to train other girls in embroidery. I am very grateful to TLM supporters because the money and advice they are giving is helping people like me develop new skills, and many children are getting education assistance. I am confident the future is only going to get better."