Charity worker Deborah visits Bangladesh

PUBLISHED: 11:30 04 June 2016 | UPDATED: 08:47 08 June 2016

Amena and four-year-old Ishma prepare their shelter in front of a shop.

Amena and four-year-old Ishma prepare their shelter in front of a shop.

Archant

Saw first hand how charity Concern’s centres offer lifeline for country’s people.

Moni selling vegetables in the local markets.Moni selling vegetables in the local markets.

A Honiton charity worker has recently returned from a trip to Bangladesh. Deborah Underdown has spoken to the Herald about the daily struggles its people are facing.

On a midnight walk through Dhaka in Bangladesh, I found the concourse at Kamlapur rail station packed full of people.

But they weren’t passengers waiting for a late train.

Stations, river boat terminals, shop fronts – any open space in this city is a place to sleep for its tens of thousands of pavement dwellers.

I met Amena, the mother of four-year-old Ishma, preparing their shelter in front of a shop.

She told me they had travelled to Dhaka from their home village a year ago and have been living on the street ever since.

I was shocked to hear that she knew she would be living on the streets - but chose to come to the city anyway. But the more Amena talks, the more I understand the difficult choices that have to be made when you live in poverty.

“Back in the village, we had a house, but no income - here we have an income, but no house,” she said.

“I can afford three meals a day. The meal size here is bigger than when we were in the village.”

Amena had to choose between having a home or an income and food.

One of the problems Amena faces is earning a living while caring for Ishma. This is why charity Concern’s day-care centre nearby is so vital.

It allows Amena to work and earn a small income, knowing her daughter is safe and being cared for.

“Since going to day-care, Ishma is cleaner and gets regular meals.”

The centre also runs a saving scheme so that Amena can put away some of the money she earns - and hope for a brighter future.

“My dream is to increase my income and have a stable life.

“If I can earn more, I’ll have savings and might have more chance of getting a place to stay.”

Concern has 10 centres across the city, offering

day-care, washing and cooking facilities, as well as access

to basic healthcare

and education. The centres also give training and grants so that people can set up small businesses.

Moni is a mother who got a grant and is now selling vegetables in the local markets.

She told me: “If the centre wasn’t here, I’d probably still be on the street, borrowing money from others to pay for food.”

These centres offer a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable people. To donate to Concern’s work in Bangladesh visit: www.concern.net


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