Sima Akhtar, an 18-year-old teenager, is working minutely in a sewing machine at the ground floor of a two-storied building in Savar's Katlapur area, that has turned into a little of readymade garment factories. She came to Savar from a remote area of Sirajganj some two months ago with hopes of securing a job in a ready-made garment factory.
Learning from her husband that there is scope of availing free or paid training programs in this area, Sima chose to enrol into a training courses, as she knew the knowhow is essential before she is eligible to apply for a job.
"The teachers will help us get jobs if we take training here, I have heard," she told this reporter while she was still working with the sewing machine.
Sima Akthar is one of nearly two thousand, of which 95 percent have secured jobs in different factories.
Through a project titled 'Empowering the RMG workers living in urban slums of Dhaka' the one-stop service centre (OSSC), the Urban Development Programme of Brac has provided opportunities for skill development to garment workers.
Not only in the area of skill development, the project is working on providing six other services including Primary Health and nutrition, legal aid support, financial inclusion, online health legal and psychosocial support and advocacy government, non-government (GO-NGO) and private engagement.
Champa, who came to the medical centre on the second floor of the same building, said she has been coming to the service centre for the last three years.
"Although I quit my job in a garment factory a year ago, I can come here and see a doctor for Tk50," she said.
Dr Jebun Nessa Nur, a physician at the medical unit of the service centre, told The Business Standard that since its launch in February 2018, around 20 to 40 people have been receiving services from the centre every day until the pandemic hit.
"The number of patients dropped due to the Covid situation. However, on Friday, we see an average of 40 to 50 patients," she said.
Garment workers, who used to get free medical services, now have to pay Tk20 with free supply of medicines. Not only the garment workers, their family members are also provided medical services at the same cost. Even patients other than from the RMG sector, can avail the services of a certified MBBS doctor at a cost of Tk50.
Sk Mojibul Huq, BRAC's program manager, told The Business Standard that the OSSC has served more than 56,000 people, of which about 39,000 received health care.
He said 95 per cent of the workers trained in skills development in their facility have jobs in garment factories.
Apart from Savar, OSSC activities are underway in two areas of Gazipur, involving 50 garment factories, officials linked with the project said.
Speaking to reporters at the centre in Savar, project implementing officials said they had conducted a study on the project and found that 90 per cent of the workers received low-cost services and were coming to the centre.
In the implementation of the project, it availed support from workers, factory owners as well as the local government authorities.
Terming the project as an exceptional initiative, Savar Municipality Mayor Abdul Gani told The Business Standard, "Brac's activities have tremendously helped the garment industry workers,"
He also said that the legal aid segment is working to provide legal assistance to the garment workers.
"Similar initiatives should be implemented in other parts of the country," the mayor urged.
According to BRAC, although such services are offered separately through different initiatives across the country, no other organisation is providing so many services at the door for one garment worker.