Only twenty-two years of age, she has the presence of a much older woman when we meet her at one of Concern's state-of-the-art centres for pavement dwellers in the middle of crowded Dhaka.
Ethi grew up living on the streets of Dhaka and recalls being in constant fear for her safety.
"I lived in the open air on the street and tried to make a living selling clothes but the authorities would regularly move me along, hitting me with batons. I was afraid nearly all the time.”
With no access to shelter, healthcare, education, electricity, water or sanitation, survival is a daily struggle for pavement dwellers like Ethi. The majority are illiterate and as a result, they have no access to formal employment. Many work in low-paid, hazardous jobs such as rickshaw pulling, domestic work, sex work and waste collection. In this environment, malnutrition, poor health and water borne diseases are common.
Three years ago, Ethi was invited to join the Amrao Manush programme, which aims to lift pavement dwellers out of extreme poverty.
She now has a job in a hotel, where she prepares and mixes spices and grains in the morning for the hotel’s chefs, and can leave her six-year-old son in the Amrao Manush daycare centre while she's at work.
She can also leave her valuables in one of the centre’s lockers and has access to parenting training, psychosocial support and medical services - supports that Ethi says have changed her life.
“I feel much better, more secure. I know now that my son will be educated. He will get a job and I dream of much better days ahead.”
A.K.M Musha, Concern's Bangladesh Country Director, explains that the team began to support the centres in 2008 and they have been designed for the specific needs of the users.
“We spent nine months designing the programme. Every night, we came out on to the streets to ask the pavement dwellers what they needed. One night, I met a family who had lived on the streets for thirty years. I asked them what they needed and they gave us the solutions. They said on the street we have no toilets, no place to cook, no clean water, nowhere to leave our children when we work and nowhere to leave our valuables.”
As well as the practical supports, Musha believes that a huge priority of the centre is to rebuild the confidence of those who have been living on the streets and help them to work towards creating a better life for themselves and their family.
Falljan, a 45-year-old single mother from Bulla, was losing hope when she came across the centres four years ago.
Wrapped in a vivid orange, red and green shawl, she reveals that she enjoyed regular life as a housewife until her husband left her for another woman. With two children to take care of and no income or support from her family, Falljan fell into extreme poverty.