Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bangladesh Suffering

A report/photo that an aid worker in Bangladesh sent to my aunt, Pat Kerr. She sent it to me. It covers one Bangladeshi boy's suffering earlier this week.

In Dhaka the children of the streets are everywhere; playing on the corners and in the roads, sleeping in the middle of the pavement, wandering along the pavements searching for plastic or paper to recycle with their sacks slung across their backs. They come from all over Bangladesh, some fleeing abuse but most just fleeing poverty and trying to eke out a living so that they can eat. They are so visible that they have become invisible to most; it is a common sight to see people stepping over or around the small forms that sprawl across the pavement. The SPP Tongi Urban Project is a place specifically created to provide these children with some recognition and normality; a place to socialize and watch TV; a place to wash themselves, their teeth and their clothes; a place where the lunch is free; a place that provides a sleeping place during the night that is free from fear; and, most of all, a place where the adults can be trusted. It has developed beyond this now, becoming a networking hub that can help these children access the services they are desperately in need of. Anik is one such child and has been using the Night Shelter at The Tongi Project for over a year. Anik travelled to Dhaka from Chittagong (a distance of 300km) for one of the reasons above (he has chosen to never reveal the exact reason) and like many he spends his days riding the trains and moving between areas where he knows he can earn some money or get food. Unfortunately, like many of the children on the streets of Dhaka, Anik has also developed a dependency on dendrite, or ‘denty’ as it is locally known, using it as a method of coping with the harsh reality of being one of these invisible children. On Monday night Anik and his friends were on a train, sitting in the space between the carriages and using denty, something they had done many times before. Although this time it went disastrously wrong; Anik fell from the train and the train went over his left arm. Thankfully some people saw it, realized the severity of the injury and took him to Tongi Medical clinic; this clinic just told them to take him to a specialist hospital. Anik however knew who he could trust and told them that he spent the evenings at the Tongi Project and they should take him there; thankfully they did. On his arrival he was bleeding badly but the two workers on duty took him to Dhaka Medical College, where they knew he could be treated, and contacted a partner organisation that pays for medical crises such as this. They spent the night with him to make sure that other adults, who work to support children such as Anik, could take over and ensure his care. Anik life was saved because he knew who he could rely on in his time of need. He will never be able to thank all the people who helped him or who have made the SPP Tongi Project possible, but we will. Thank you.

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