“When our first three coronavirus positive cases were detected and declared by our Bangladesh government, our program community people in the slums became very afraid of COVID-19. The first time they heard of the coronavirus, [they had] no details,” says Mili, who implements World Vision’s Child Protection project in the slums of southern Bangladesh. “Their apprehension gradually reduced when World Vision started working in partnership with the parents and a child forum.”
“Just the week before [the] lockdown started in our area I filled my store with new goods. I brought mostly the kitchen items like [the] electric kettle, fan, iron, gas stove, and rice cooker. I invested all the savings that I earned from my tailoring store,” says Sahinoor, 35, an entrepreneur and a single mother who is raising her two children Shanta, 15, and Shourav, 7. She lives in a slum in Khulna, a city in southern Bangladesh.
The impact of COVID-19 has changed the entire world. In one community in Bangladesh, a Hidden Hero has emerged to help slow the spread. Meet Rumi, a 16-year-old who lives in a slum with her parents and brother Rummon (9) in southern Bangladesh. “I mostly invest my time helping my parents in household chores, playing with my younger brother and messaging my community with my peers. My school and life have greatly changed…now I spend my days at home to stay safe from the coronavirus contamination. I miss my normal days,” says Rumi. She completed high school this year and now disseminates life-saving messages to communities through the Chader Alo (“moonlight”) Child Forum mobilized and inspired by World Vision’s Area Program in Barishal City.
“Eleven-year-old girl Amena is a gifted child. She draws good portraits. She learns to dance so quickly. She sings folksongs so well,” says Moitry Snal, Child Protection project staff of World Vision in southern Bangladesh. Amena lives with her adoptive family in a poor area of Khulna. Parul Begum, 48, brought Amena into her home where she lives with her two adoptive brothers and father. Parul first saw Amena walking alone on the street in the slum and felt that she needed to do something, so she took her home and became her adoptive parent.
|Iman takes Fatema in is new rickshaw|
“I always take good care of my wife and children so that they feel my love and affection. The man who does not love his wife and children is not a human being to me,” says Iman Ali, a 42-year-old man. Iman lives with his wife Fatema, 35, daughter Sumi, 12, and son Al Amin, 9. Their home is a single-story house made of bamboo and corrugated iron sheets with a mud floor. Iman does not own his land, as it belongs to the Bangladesh Railway in Khulna City. Along with the stress of living in an extremely congested environment, Iman is at risk of being evicted by the Railway Department at any time.
Murshida, 15, is the youngest child of Nachima, 46. She lives in the Bagmara community with her mother, sister Khaleda, 22, and her aunt. Murshida survived working in a shrimp processing plant for three years, endangering her health and interrupting her education. “My sister and I worked in a cold, moist and slippery environment, especially on the night shifts,” Murshida says. Both girls suffered from swollen hands and feet, fungal infections and muscle pain.
As a single mother, Nachima moved her family to Khulna. “I often begged on the street, chopped firewood, and sometimes worked as a maid. I hardly could make $1 a day…” Nachima says. When Nachima could not provide writing notebooks, pens, and uniforms for Murshida, she was forced to drop out of school, beginning her work as a child laborer.
My brother Sabbir and I were staying on the street of a transportation terminal and watching out for passengers carrying heavy bags, rushing to offer them porter service - carrying people’s packages and bags for money. We could hardly earn 80 taka ($1), working about 13 hours a day,” says Babu Matubbar, 12. Babu and Sabbir, 9, live with their single mother and 10-year-old sister Sumaiya in a desperate situation in Mongla, the largest seaport of southwest Bangladesh. Both the boys have been hurt doing their jobs.
“I stopped begging on the streets with my father, because I go to school now,” says Mustaque, a 6-year-old boy who is one of twenty- five children participating in World Vision’s Child Friendly Space (CFS). Corneal scarring from measles left his father Murad (33) blind. Because Murad had never been to school he had no job skills and made his living by begging on the streets, often bringing his children along to help. World Vision Bangladesh’s Child Protection Program identified Mustaque, enrolled him in the CFS, saving him from becoming part of the next generation of beggars.