It’s half a decade since TRAID began funding ChildHope a fantastic NGO established in 1989 to support street children and young people who face the worst forms of exploitation, violence and abuse.
Since 2010, TRAID has committed our international development funding exclusively to projects working to end exploitation in our global textile production and supply chains. ChildHope insightfully made the link between garment worker struggles in Bangladesh and the damaging impacts on their children, and approached us for funding.
To date, TRAID has donated £325,000 to this project which aims to keep the children of garment workers in Bangladesh safe, fed and stimulated in a happy environment. The project is run in Bangladesh by Nagorik Uddyog, and supported by ChildHope in the UK.
Most of the garment workers supported on this project are single mothers who have migrated with their children from rural parts of Bangladesh into the capital Dhaka looking for work. Most end up working in garment factories for extremely long hours and little pay. These women usually have no family support and their children are left to fend for themselves either on the streets or locked in a room. On top of a stressful job, the additional anxiety of leaving your children to the risk of accidents, trafficking and abuse is unimaginable.
Located in the harsh slums of Dhaka, this project provides support for around 200 children at any one time. There are two nurseries for 2-6-year olds and two drop in centres for 7-15 year olds. The nurseries are open thirteen hours a day, for six days a week, and accommodate forty children. The drop-in centres for 9 – 15-year olds accommodates 126 children, usually working children. It is a safe place for the children to go to for respite, education and to hang out with other children in the same predicament.
Angela Russ TRAID’s Head of International Programmes visited the centres in April this year, and said that the centres are strikingly clean and tidy, with lots of colourful pictures and educational posters. She said,
“The children’s centres were veritable oases of calm, order, gentle care and encouragement for girls and boys who, otherwise, live very difficult lives.”
Project visits are always a great way of seeing new problems that perhaps we can address. When Leigh McAlea, TRAID’s Head of Communications visited the centres in 2014, she discovered that children in the slum centres don’t have birth certificates. With them, they aren’t entitled to state education or health provision in Bangladesh. She said,
“This was a real issue for the mothers who needed financial and administrative help to secure birth certificates – and in effect citizenship – for their kids. It’s a potentially life-changing piece of paper and something TRAID was able to help with.”
To raise the money needed, TRAID launched a special fundraising appeal in our charity shops. All the money donated to us by our fantastic customers and supporters raised enough to buy 101 certificates.
A wonderful addition to the project has been a series of stop motion animation films written and directed by the children themselves, telling their stories about what a birth certificate means to them and their quality of life. Watch it here.
I must also add a thank you to the documentary filmmakers Rainbow Collective and artist and designer Alex Noble who trained the children to make their own colourful animation and most importantly, all created in their own words.