Amit Arulanantham, Programme Manager at ChildHope UK reflects on five years of funding for a project building hope for garment working mothers and their children.
Since the ChildHope UK and Nagorik Uddyog project in partnership with TRAID launched in November 2013, it has flourished providing education and protection for more than 1000 at risk children from 2 – 16 years old.
Our centres are open 13 hours per day for six days a week to fit the very long hours of garment working mothers who work around 10 – 12 hours per day. We can’t thank the caregivers, teachers and cooks enough who are so dedicated and committed in their support. A single mother and garment worker told me, ‘As far as I know this is the only centre which keeps children for long hours considering our situation and working hours in factories’.
I’ve always believed that an investment in knowledge returns the best interest, and the centres incorporate the formal pre-primary and primary education syllabus so that children are ready for the mainstream schools, once they are in an appropriate age. We also use role playing, singing and dancing to stimulate creativity and learning.
‘I feel like staying at the centre all day long. Here I can learn many things, watch movies and play with my friend.’ (Child at the centre in Mirpur, Dhaka)
Many parents report that their children have become healthier after attending the centres due to good nutritious food, and they learn basic but important hygiene practices like hand washing. Children also receive primary health care support through a visiting doctor at the centre. A caregiver at the Mirpur centre said, ‘Amit dada (big brother), the children live in slums which are crowded and inappropriate for a child to grow and live a healthy life. We keep our centres clean, blissful and positive to make it feel calm and happy for the children…the centre is a place of peace and tranquillity for the children as well as the staff.’
It’s always wonderful to interact with the community members and mothers, and there has been a lot of positive feedback about our work to lobby the local government offices to secure birth certificates for all the children at our centres. It’s a very bureaucratic process however it’s a vital piece of paper which acts as a national identity certificate and gives these children citizenship and access to state education and health. I was told, ‘Children have now received birth certificates, they will be considered for all government entitlements and will be known as the citizen of Bangladesh’
TRAID’s support over the last five years has helped to set up and sustain these innovative centres providing education and opportunity while building hope for garment working mothers and their children. Thank you.