Since 2013, TRAID has funded Nagorik Uddyog and Childhope UK to establish and run two day-care centres and two drop-in centres, in Dhaka, Bangladesh to provide a package of care and education for the children of garment working mothers. This year, we have committed £69,493, bringing our total funding to £532,660 to date. Some of the stand-out achievements during this time include: –
The centres provide unique support for around 200 at risk children every year. Many garment workers are single mothers who have migrated from rural areas to look for work, far from their families. Lacking education and skills, they end up living in Dhaka’s slums in extreme poverty. Very low wages (around £85 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.
The centres address this by providing quality care, good food, education and regular health checks. The day-care facilities nurture small children aged 2 – 5 who get to learn and play together in a calm spacious setting with trained teachers and social workers. The drop-in centres are targeted at working children aged 6 – 16 which aim to improve literacy and numeracy, as well as providing life skills support. Centre staff negotiate with families and employers to ensure these children have access to some education.
Faraha (all names are changed) is a garment working mum. Married very young, Faraha endured an abusive marriage and eventually left her husband to work in a garment factory in Dhaka bringing her daughter Tasmia. She was struggling to work and care for her daughter until a friend told her about the centres.
“When I heard about Nagorik Uddyog’s day care centre I was curious. I was reassured when I personally visited. Along with a safe space, the centres offered nutrition and health care to all children. The teachers were warm and kind.”
Faraha found it difficult to get Tasmia enrolled in school as she had fallen behind. At the centre, she has caught up with her studies, made friends, and takes part in sports and other fun activities. The next step will be enrolment into mainstream school depending on local Covid restrictions.
Ayesha’s (name changed) first contact with the centre was when she was four. She received day-care and health support to treat an eye problem. In 2020, she joined the drop-in centre, is keen to improve her education and wants to be a police officer. She says:
“I am a peer member and have improved a lot in my studies. I also regularly participate in events and awareness programmes. I came first in the Kodom (moderate learner) class and feel more confident now.”
The centres help children into formal education and in 2021/22 aims to enrol 80 children into school. With some education under their belt, these children will have a better chance of securing safer and better paid jobs, and stopping the cycle the inter-generational poverty. Another barrier overcome, especially for younger children, was that once in school, they could not always get there as their mum’s work such long hours and school is sometimes far and located on busy highways. To resolve this, TRAID funded transport to take children to and from school.
Another important on-going part of the work is to make sure all children have a birth certificate without which they are essentially stateless. Typically, many poor families do not register their children’s births which excludes them from using state hospitals and schools, and having proof of age makes child marriage and under-age labour more difficult.
This project represents a wonderful package of support and opportunities, which eases the burden in unimaginable ways on garment working mothers who had previously had to choose between leaving their children alone and unprotected, or not earning any money.
- In 2021, Childhope UK brought together the stories of the centres, and how children and garment workers have benefited, in its latest impact report. Here you will find first hand accounts from children, and garment workers, of how the centres have helped them.
- Children from the centres wrote and directed lovely, funny and often-moving animations about why having a birth certificate is so important.
- Find out more about the power of education from the teachers and their students.