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 Bangladesh
“Hohoemi” Drop-in Center opened in Dhaka (2011/12/1)

“Hohoemi” Drop-in Center opened in Dhaka

ほほえみロゴと子ども
For more smiles and hopes to live for children in Asia, “Hohoemi” project started from last June. (Sponsored by DATV) Thanks to it donation, we opened “Hohoemi” Drop-in Center for street children and working children in Dhaka, capital city of Bangladesh, in September. 
We would like to introduce activities in center and children who come to center.

Situations of street children in Dhaka

Under the report of UN, it is said that there are about 300,000 street children, being apart from their parents and living on streets. They come to big cities like Dhaka, because they are easier to find jobs rather than their home villages.

Sadar Ghat (large port), the opposite shore of our center location, is called “the gate of Dhaka.” Every day, children with different reasons leave their villages and arrive this port. Shodorugatto is busy place where remarkable number of shops selling closes, food, and sundries are located. There are full of opportunities for children to get jobs.    
Every child left home with different reasons. The most frequent reason is the financial crisis at home. Then problem of parents or parents and children relationship comes next. For example, they suffer from domestic violence, parents getting remarried, death of parents, fights with parents, and being forced to work. Some children do not have any problem with their parents, but came to Dhaka for their family. Others unintentionally got on bus, fell asleep, and realizing in Dhaka that they have no money to return home. Also, natural disaster can be one of the big reasons. 新聞売り
Living on street is full of dangers and risks for them. For example, their money may be stolen while sleeping; they may hit by policemen, may get involve with mafias, and may receive no money or unreasonable amount for their work. Furthermore, their job, selling newspapers or popcorn on the busy streets filled with cars and rickshaws, is full of dangers.   

Because children are living on street with bare feet, they always have wounds on their bare feet. Physical damages of children we often see in our center are scratches, cuts, and bruises due to work on streets or fights. Also, skin diseases can be seen from lack of nutrition and sanitary. Not few children come the center are using drugs to escape from hunger, pain, and loneliness feeling.

Children needing place to feel peace

For children above, our “Hohoemi” drop in center provides basic education, recreational activities, lunch, counseling, medical support, and enlightenment activity from 9am to 5pm. Center has shower room, lockers, and kitchen. Today, about 40 to 45 children of 6 to 16 years old come to center every day. Unfortunately, we don't have girls visiting our center so much. Reason is parents of girls are doubted about our center since it is near the port. Also, girls often live with their parents on the streets but never settle in one place.

Only a few children were born in Dhaka. Most of children came from outskirt villages, Barisaru, Khulna, Sylhet, and Mymensingh by themselves or with brothers and friends. They manage their living by works, such as picking garbage, carrying luggage, being bus helper, selling water, fruits, and begging. More than half of children never gone to school before, and other half can manage basic reading, writing, and calculation.  We have 6 residential staffs at the center. The president and project coordinator, Shorifu, the social workers responsible for teaching basic education and introducing center to street children, Tariq and Bipurobu, the counselor, Gopa, the paramedic, Mizan responsible for teaching health education and assisting first aid, and trainee educator, Farizana. 2 months has passed since the center opened. Gradually, children and staffs are building their relationship stronger. 

One typical day of one boy

To let you know more about the situations of children, we would like to introduce Kajoru, 12 years old boy, who was been coming center since it was opened.
Originally, he is from District Borisharu, one of the KnK operating areas in Bangladesh. His father, a police man, suddenly passed away from a heart attack and her mother passed away as well, just as following her husband. Kajoru was taken to her aunt, a maid, and lived in her owner’s house. That was the moment his brother asked him to go Dhaka. It was 3 to 4 years ago from now. Later, his brother worked as a rickshaw puller, but changed his job and worked in Shodorugatto to support living of Kajoru. Although Kajor can be quarrelsome regardless of thin body, he is an honest boy with beautiful smile, who carefully listen to the words of social workers.
Following pie chart shows his typical day. Let us introduce his life with it.


(1) 9:00-9:30 AM
Kajoru comes to center as it opens at 9:00AM. He signs up at registration, brushes his teeth, takes shower, and handles money he earned in day before to staffs for saving. Then, he shares what he has done yesterday with others in the morning meeting.


He signs up at registration when he comes to center.

Morning meeting



(2) 9:30-11:00AM
Usually, he plays board games with friends. Other time, he takes a nap. 

Boys playing board game.


(3) 11:00AM-12:00PM

He takes basic education classes. (Center provides Bengal, English, mathematics, and art classes) Although he used to go school when his parents were alive, he quit going when he was bullied from his classmates. After the death of his parents, he faced poverty and difficulty of going back school. Center became an opportunity for him to back to education. He wishes to study hard and become a police man or a ferry navigator. 


Kajoru takes classes seriously.



(4) 12:00-2:00PM
After receiving health education by Paramedics, he has free time. Enlightenment activities by staffs are popular among children.

Paramedics teaching health education to children.


(5) 2:00-3:00PM
Children eat lunch together. Today’s menu was rice, vegetable, fish torukari (Bangladesh soup curry), and dal(soup).
 


(6) 3:00-4:00 PM
After lunch is TV time. Children watched popular anime, “Mina.” 



(7) 4:00-4:30PM
He has a group session. Children and social workers discuss current problems and solutions. Today’s topic was about “risks at night.” The Social worker warned them not sleep on streets and use night shelters instead. We asked Kajoru if there were any changes since he started coming to this center.
“I learned many things. Now I can write my name. I know the importance of washing hands and feet, following rules, and eating without making noise. I know that I need to change my attitude if I want to be a good person, and if I change my attitude and speak nicely, people will like me.”
We are proud to see that the center has changed him positively.



(8)(9) 4:30-6:00PM
After leaving center, he goes back to Shodorugatto, his place to sleep and work on a ship, and enjoy free time with his friends. Although ferry usually cost 2-5Taka (about $0.2-0.5), center negotiated to let children ride ship for free.   

 
It takes about 5 minutes from center to Shodorugatto by a ship.


(10) 6:00-9:00PM

Time for him to work. He sells water bottles to passengers on a ferry. He says that 6 to 10PM is the peak time.


Kajoru walks around and sells water bottles to passengers on a ferry


(11) 9:00-10PM
Dinner: He ate 20Taka (about $0.2) curry at shop close to the port.



(12) 10:00-5:00AM
He sleeps at bridge in port. Currently, he sleeps with his friend. Because it is an open space, he is sometimes kicked by strangers or children about the same ages. He says he rarely can sleep well. In November, the dry season in Bangladesh, he needs to bear low temperature in morning and night.


Shodorugatto at night

Place where Kajoru sleeps


(13)-(15) 5:00-9:00 AM

He wakes up, brushes his teeth, gets dressed, and then starts his job. He first collect plastic bottles, pour in water, then sells to passengers. He works from 6 to 8 AM and paid 20-30Taka (about $0.2-0.3) per day. His owner serves him a breakfast for free. During the interview, we asked him if he has a best friend. He said, “It’s hard to make best friends because children at even same age scramble to get a job.” His words tell us how hard to live on street. He finishes his work at 8 AM, eats breakfast, and goes to center. This is how he starts another new day. Comparing the life of village and Dhaka, Kajoru says he likes the life in village, where nature, places to play around, and favorite fruits are full. He also says he misses his aunt.
Kajoru, regardless of small body, is living vigorously.      

 

Providing time to live as a child

Every day, many children like Kajoru come to center. They are under poor, risky, and difficult situation. Convention on the Rights of the Child was set up international protection for children’s basic human rights. It spells out the basic human rights that children in everywhere should have: the right to survival; to develop to the fullest; to be protected from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation; and to participate fully in family, cultural and social life. Unfortunately, we cannot say that children coming to center are receiving these rights. They are in environment that rashes them to be adult so quickly. Under this situation, “Hohoemi” Drop-in center plays a role as a place where children can peacefully live as normal children. There are artists, singers, writers, and good care givers. Children have diverse potentials. To protect the rights provided internationally and develop their potentials, we will continue to support children at center. We are wishing that someday, children will welcome a day to return their own community, family, and school.


At “Hohoemi” Drop-In Center

By $0.6 per day ($20
per month) support …

Children can eat nutritious meals for 20 days. http://www.knk.or.jp/images/sp/111201/019.jpg

By $1.3per day ($39 per month) support …

One child can receive basic education for 1year and enjoys recreation activities.  http://www.knk.or.jp/images/sp/111201/020.jpg
 
 
 
Nonprofit Organization Kokkyo naki Kodomotachi (KnK)
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E-mail: kodomo@knk.or.jp URL: www.knk-network.org
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