TRAID continues to fund child centres in Dhaka, Bangladesh for the children of garment workers, with an additional grant of £129,208 in 2017 over two years, and £325,203 of total funding to date.

The four children centres to be funded, two childcare centres for tiny tots of 2-5 years and two drop-in centres for 6-16 year olds, give a nurturing environment to children of garment workers. A high proportion of the garment workers in Dhaka are single mothers who are forced through poverty to migrate from rural areas. They do not have the means to pay for childcare or a family network to help while they are at work. As a result, children as young as two are left at home alone or on the street making them highly vulnerable to accidents or abuse. The drop-in centres are for slightly older children who have started work to supplement their mothers’ income. Some work in extremely hazardous workplaces. All miss the chance of an education.

To encourage and support children at all four centres into/back into education is the main objective, but children also benefit from good nutrition and a clean, calm and stimulating environment. The project will also lobby the government for better implementation of labour laws and meet with factory owners, trade unions, local communities and factory workers to strengthen advocacy initiatives aiming to improve access to education and protect children from exploitation and abuse.

More details below.

Latest Project Update May 2016: Thanks to our charity shop customers giving us their spare change, TRAID raised extra funding towards our day-centre project in Bangladesh which we spent on securing birth certificates for 120 children of garment workers. Now, they are official citizens of their country, they can use state schools and hospitals, and with proof of age, it will be much harder for early marriages to take place or for employers to hire under-age children. Four of the children in the centres – Napur aged 12, Taslima aged 12, Salena aged 13 and Sakil aged 11 – wrote and directed these fantastic stop motion animation films about why having a birth certificate is so important. Watch here. Previous Updates: Other exciting news is that of the 89 children in the day centres (aged 2 – 5 years old), 48 were enrolled in primary schools last year; and of the 132 older children attending the drop-in centres (aged 6 – 16 years old), 58 were enrolled in schools! This is exactly the outcome TRAID hoped to achieve when we began funding the project in 2013. These very poor women working as garment workers cannot afford to educate their children trapping the next generation in poverty. We’re helping them to break this cycle and as the films show so clearly, by enabling these children to create alternative futures for themselves.

The Project

The rapid expansion of the garment industry in Bangladesh has provided opportunities for women to earn a living; however, it has also had a seriously negative impact on their children.

Many Bangladeshi textile workers are single mothers who have migrated from rural areas looking for work. Lacking education and skills, they end up living in Dhaka’s slums which are areas of extreme poverty with limited access to clean water, sanitation or health care.

Very low wages (around £35 per month) forces mothers to leave young children (2 – 5 years) alone, or in the care of older siblings, putting them at risk of accidents, trafficking and sexual abuse. Extreme poverty also affects older children (6 – 16) who are forced into work, including illegal activities (often drug trafficking) or informal jobs in dangerous conditions to bring in more money.

TRAID is funding ChildHope UK and local partner Nagorik Uddyog to establish 4 centres where mothers can leave their children in a safe and stimulating environment. They will be located close to the garment factories and be open all day with lunch provided.

The centres provide quality day care and activities for approximately 150 very young children aged 2 – 5 years, and priority is given to children at the most risk of violence and abuse. The centres aim to help children and their parents get into state run primary schools to continue their education. For around 250 street and working children aged 6 – 16 years, the centres provide drop-in activities, skills training and basic education.

Lunch-time. Younger children get three nutritious meals per day.
Lunch-time. Younger children get three nutritious meals per day.
Drawing lessons at the centre. Some of the educational materials used were raised from TRAID charity shop customers.
Drawing lessons at the centre. Some of the educational materials used were raised from TRAID charity shop customers.
Nazir is 14 and works in a local market selling clothes. He has never been to school but is now learning to read and write at the centre.
Nazir is 14 and works in a local market selling clothes. He has never been to school but is now learning to read and write at the centre.
Lessons for older children last for around 2-hours and fix flexibly around their working hours.
Lessons for older children last for around 2-hours and fix flexibly around their working hours.

At the same time, mothers working in garment factories will be supported to lobby their employers for improved salaries and working conditions, including the introduction of crèches in the workplace. The project will run campaigns to highlight the problems faced by women in the garment making sector to raise awareness at government level for the need to expand government support for day-care and non-formal education facilities.

2015 Project Funding: TRAID is funding the centres for another year committing an additional £35,000 grant which will continue to provide day-care for younger children, and drop-in and educational services for older children of garment workers.