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CivilSocietyHUB-Lucky-UNHCR-2023

LUCKY BY NAME AND NATURE

The Inspiring Journey of Driver Lucky in Bangladesh.

April 2023 marked our arrival in Cox Bazar, a town and region situated in the far southeast of Bangladesh. Our purpose for undertaking this journey was to assess the dire needs of Rohingya refugees in the area. The Rohingyas, a stateless Muslim minority, have long endured discrimination and persecution. In the wake of a massive outbreak of violence in August 2017, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya were compelled to flee from Myanmar, seeking refuge in Bangladesh. Currently, over 1,000,000 refugees are hosted by Bangladesh in this region.

 

“Her name is Lucky
– a name that couldn’t be more fitting!”

Mr Z

We were graciously invited by the UNHCR to visit the sites and actively listen to the urgent requirements. During this endeavor, I had the pleasure of meeting our driver, a remarkable woman who operates as one of the few female drivers in Bangladesh. Given the predominantly Muslim nature of the state, female drivers are a rarity. Hence, this encounter held a special significance that ought to be shared.

Lucky remains unfased by any obstacles that come her way

Over the course of three days, I had the opportunity to observe Lucky, engage in conversation with her, and be privileged enough to hear her personal story. Two decades ago, at a tender age of only 15, a decision was made within her family that she should acquire a driver’s license. Her father, a field worker, had fallen ill, and her mother had to undertake arduous journeys on foot or through carpooling for work. While her siblings were already employed, the family’s income remained insufficient. Consequently, Lucky embarked on a two-year training program, which involved overcoming various forms of intolerance and bureaucratic hurdles. Eventually, the time arrived for her to take the driving test. However, an obstacle presented itself – she had not yet turned 18, the legal age to undertake the test. Her driving instructor and mentor advocated on her behalf, leading to her successful completion of the driving test.

Lucky Bangladesh UNHCR HQ

2023 field visit with amazing hospitality of UNHCR team.

After spending several years as a taxi driver in Dhaka

Lucky has now fulfilled her dream of becoming a driver for the UNHCR. She exudes pride, respect, and an ever-present cheerfulness. Driven and goal-oriented, she remains unfazed by any obstacles that come her way. People on the streets still stare at her as though she hails from another planet. Yet, after two decades, she takes it in stride, although occasionally the intolerance she encounters frustrates her, and she makes her displeasure known – “it’s not their business”. She traverses countless kilometers each day, being observed, admired, judged, disadvantaged, and not always fully accepted.

UNHCR logo adorning her vehicle serves as a source of reassurance.

Nevertheless, Lucky continues to emanate positivity from her car, well aware that hundreds of girls and young women on the roadside are watching her. She becomes a subject of open-mouthed astonishment, a woman behind the wheel. In that moment, fingers point in her direction, and parents immediately take notice. The combination of enthusiasm and bewilderment is palpable. It is truly a sight to behold as she effortlessly reciprocates every smile and wave, even after two decades. “It comes as no surprise that she refers to herself as “Lucky.”
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