Nasima is a 47-year-old mom living in what was one of the poorest communities . In spite of the presence of a government provided primary school, very few parents sent their children to class; the dropout rate for those who did attend was high. Roughly 80 percent of the community was illiterate, especially women and girls. Child marriage for girls was the norm and wives were often constrained to the home. Muddy roads, lack of electricity, the absence of a clinic, contaminated water, and insufficient sanitation (including few toilets) created an unhealthy environment where preventable diseases perpetually plagued the population. The people were sick, hungry, and struggling with domestic and communal conflict.
Not a pretty picture, is it?
Before FH began working in Char Borobila, Nasima’s family suffered under these conditions. “We were so vulnerable that we had to starve sometimes without food and most of the time could not eat three times a day to satisfy our hunger,” she explains. “We used to fight a lot over silly issues because of our low family income. My husband farmed but it was insufficient to meet our basic needs. We used to drink contaminated water, clean our teeth with ashes, and defecate in the open field. My children were not regular in school; instead of studying they used to spend their time in playing with neighborhood friends.”
Through your support, FH began walking alongside families like Nasima’s in 2012. Education and health were major concerns and empowering women and protecting girls were top priorities. Nasima joined a FH initiated women’s group where she received training in Bangladeshi laws designed to protect children. She began advocating those laws in her community to reduce child marriage. , Amar, and their lives began to change.
|Nasima has joined a Savings group in her community|
“I took part in a FH adult literacy program. I was fascinated with the Box Library which encouraged me to read more and I learned many things by reading books. Now I can read in Bangla, can write my name, and I have been writing group meeting minutes. FH taught me that there is no limit of age for education. When I was a child, I did not get any chance to study in school or college. Now every evening I help my son in reading.
“Amar’s father got fishery training from FH. As a result, he is farming and fishing well. I have a good relationship with my husband which I learned through FH values lessons. Now we can afford three meals a day.”
Thanks to his Child Sponsor, Amar’s childhood has also completely changed. Instead of spending his days aimlessly playing in unsafe streets, Amar attends and regularly goes to school. Finally given the opportunity to excel, he’s already obtained a GPA of 4.83 out five! His health has also improved since he began practicing what he learns in his afterschool club – simple yet life-saving lessons about handwashing and personal hygiene.
Amar’s sister’s life trajectory also took a 180 turn. “If I was not associated with FH, I would not be able to educate my children. They would have dropped out of school at an early stage,” Nasima explains. “Since girls are married at an early age in our context, I would have married off my daughter long ago and bound her to domestic chores or child labour. But that didn’t happen because of FH. In 2019 I got two marriage proposals for my daughter, but I strongly refused those. I am not going to give her in marriage before she finishes her studies. She has already completed secondary school and is now studying in 12th standard.”
|Nasima's daughter and son practice reading together.|
Nasima’s counter-cultural decisions about her own children are influencing her neighbours. “Now our neighbours are encouraged through us,” she says, “and are sending their children to school. Otherwise, they would have forced them into child labour.”
Your financial gifts, your child sponsorship, your prayers and faithful support have enabled FH and the families of Char Borobila to make seemingly small changes that have had radical, life-changing impact in their communities. To date, FH has established nine child development centres to boost childhood education. At the same time, adult literacy is going up. Thirty Cascade health groups are active, 602 have been installed, 67 tube-wells have been dug and are delivering , and 48 members have accumulated a total capital of $65,117 CAD! Marriages are improving as husbands and wives participate in couple’s workshops, and child marriage and child labour are on the decline.
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