Akhi, a 17-year-old girl residing at Rupshar Char in Khulna's Rupsha upazila, is the second among three siblings. Her father Masud Molla is unable to work due to illness. Mother Anwara Begum works at a fish processing company.
Due to poverty, Akhi dropped out of school after she passed class five.
Akhi, along with three other Bangladeshi youths, were recognised by the United Nations (UN) as "real life heroes" for their contributions to humanitarian services in their respective arenas.
Marking the World Humanitarian Day on August 19, the UN recognised her mainly for making face masks on her own initiative and selling them at lower prices and also providing them to poor neighbours for free amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Akhi said she wants to work for the welfare of the people. She has a dream to set up a garment factory and also a sewing training centre for poor girls in the future.
While talking to this correspondent, Akhi shared her feelings about the UN recognition for her work and her future plans to work for the poor.
"At the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, there was a scarcity of face masks in this area. The masks that were found after a good search were sold at high prices. The poor could not afford them.
"So, utilising sewing training and the sewing machine I received from World Vision, I started making face masks and selling them to the poor at cheap rates. I even gave masks free of cost," she said.
"I have a dream to work for the welfare of the people since the UN has recognised me as a real life hero. I also want to stand by helpless girls," Akhi said.
Anwara hopes that her daughter can do something for poor people in the future in line with her dream.
Suborno Chisim, regional communications coordinator of World Vision Bangladesh's southern region, said, "In 2016, we found Akhi in a shrimp processing factory in Rupsha. Noticing her interest, we arranged to give her sewing training through the Project for Life."
"Using the training, she made face masks during the pandemic and sold them to the poor at low prices. She even gave many masks for free.
"We are very happy that the UN has recognised her great work," Chisim added.
Rupsha Upazila Nirbahi Officer Nasrin Akhter said Akhi is now the pride of Khulna.
"The upazila administration will accord a reception to her on Wednesday (August 26). We will be with her to help her fulfill her dream," she added.
"Through a representative, Local lawmaker Abdus Salam Murshedy, a former footballer and industrialist, has also promised to help me fulfill my dream," Akhi said.