“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.
Like children everywhere, Rohingya children in a Bangladesh refugee camp find joy playing together. Of the nearly 1 million refugees living in the camps, 55% are children. Despite difficult conditions, they can come together daily at World Vision’s Child-Friendly Spaces to have fun and learn. (©2019 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren)
Every day of the year, World Vision works around the world to meet the needs of refugees. On June 20, World Refugee Day, we highlight the plight of the 68.5 million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes and the innovative ways we help them cope. Running from violence in Syria, Myanmar, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Venezuela, and other countries, refugees seek a new life of safety. More than half of the world’s refugees are children.
Since August 2017, about 700,000 people from the Rohingya ethnic group have fled Myanmar and joined 200,000 Rohingya already taking refuge in Bangladesh, according to the U.N. refugee agency. Through its response to the crisis, World Vision is investing in a better life today and a better future for Myanmar’s refugees, especially children.
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.
Meet Bilkis, a 38-year-old mom in Bangladesh and her teenage daughter Sadia. Those smiles were rare three years ago when they were both working in a shrimp factory just trying to survive. Before World Vision started working in their community, they had no hope. But today, they can see a brighter future.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10
In November 2018 I had the opportunity to see World Vision’s Child Protection work in Bangladesh & India. For the past couple of months, I’ve been leaning heavily into this verse. How do I even begin to share about a trip, that was amazing, intense, beautiful, heartbreaking, joyful, made me angry at times and hopeful in others, and one that pretty much put me through a wringer of emotions? I jumped off the deep end with this one!