Mithela Haque experiences firsthand how many girls in Bangladesh believe that they are not very clever, not very good at science, not meant to travel abroad.
To shift these mindsets and empower fellow young women, as well as boys, Mithela founded Power to Bloom. She and like-minded volunteers work with schools in low-income communities to provide much needed spaces for adolescents to learn and share around issues that are traditionally taboo.
The topics range from drug addiction to sexually transmitted infections to how to choose good friends. Not only are these in-school sessions informational, they remove an element of uncertainty that plagues adolescence. The resulting, enhanced sense of communal understanding leads to an empowerment that Mithela wants every youth to experience.
Mithela recognizes the repercussions of positive juvenile energy going to waste. Without platforms, most youth do not have outlets through which to channel their productive energy and ideas. She is reversing this trend. Her most recent programming focuses on the outskirts of Chittagong where drug addiction is rampant and economic opportunities are few. Girls marry young without knowing they have a choice.
The 2,000 students across six schools are engaging in month-long projects to create and apply ideas of their own in their communities, exponentially sharing the life-changing information they learn through Power to Bloom. Learning firsthand their power to affect others, the youth are inspired to continue being ambassadors for and with their peers.
Mithela recognizes she has much to learn and takes every opportunity to apply those learnings. For example, frustrated that most of the students she meets cannot access mental health services, she organized a team of psychologists who are available to students on set days. These professionals also provide training to Power to Bloom volunteers to scale basic offerings. It is a continuous process, but Mithela takes it in stride, and reminds herself as well as her students, “doing something is always better than doing nothing.”