“TRAID has funded Childhope and Nagorik Uddyog since 2013 to provide care, education, life skills and good food for the most vulnerable children of garment working mothers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. This support has established four bright spacious day centres, close to garment factories, where around 200 children aged 2-16 are supported each year. Many move into state education and safer work. All have the opportunity to play, learn, get health checks, register for birth certificates and eat good food. Our partners have gathered some of the project’s impacts to date in this incredibly inspiring report. We share Rukhsar’s* story below which really illuminates the hard choices faced by children and their families, and how the right support can potentially break the cycle of inter-generational poverty with education and skills. Thanks to all our staff and customers who make funding this life changing work possible.” (Maria Chenoweth, TRAID CEO)
Rukhsar is 15 years old. A family dispute drove her family from their village, and they fled to Dhaka where her parents started working as labourers. Living in a single room in a slum in Dhaka, Rukhsar’s parents carried sand, earning 300-400 Bangladeshi taka (£2.80- £3.80) a day. Her elder sister started working at a garment factory.
Rukhsar shares, “Due to poverty, I couldn’t attend school. However, many of my friends here attended the drop-in centre, free of cost. I saw them visiting the centre regularly, playing and learning. I also joined the centre in March 2016.”
Rukhsar was enrolled in Nagorik Uddyog’s drop-in centre. She soon moved from the beginners, to the fast learners’ group. Her rapid progress meant she was enrolled into a mainstream primary school in Class 4 under the supervision of a teacher from the centre.
However, due to having to take care of a younger sibling, Rukhsar dropped-out which is typical for many of the children using the centres. An important part of the project team’s work is negotiating with families and employers to ensure children are given the time to continue their education even when supporting their families.
Crucially, Rukhsar continued attending the drop-in centre – where older children can participate in education designed to work flexibly around work – and was made a peer member. In March 2019, she was able to enrol once again in school into Class 5, as she had been able to keep up educationally by being taught at the centre.
Rukhsar said, “Learning at the centre has transformed my life. I am more conscientious now and participate in all workshops and activities (including) a workshop on animation organised by TRAID and Rainbow Collective. I also got training on cooking and sewing at the drop-in centre.”
Since Rukhsar’s school has closed for almost a year, due to the global pandemic, she has been working at an embroidery factory to help support her family. Rukhsar’s training in tailoring which she received at the drop-in centre helped her secure this job which gives her around 11,000 taka (£104) a month. Schools remain closed in Dhaka, however the centre continues to support Rukhsar and confirms she is returning to school in August 2021 when they are set to re-open.