Thursday, 23 October 2008

With MRDF in Bangladesh

I am in Bangladesh looking at one of the MRDF projects and have come with Amanda Norman (MRDF supporter relations director) and a late substitute, Audrey Skervin (the new MRDF media officer). Audrey had only 24 hours notice as Matt, a journalist with the Church Times, couldn't get a visa. We had great flight here with BA particularly as the air stewards were so taken with what we were doing that they collected all the sweets, chocolates and children's flight bags they could find and asked us to take them to the children we would be meeting.

CSKS is an organisaton which is working with street children in Dhaka and MRDF have been in partnership with them since about 2000. Initially it was small funding to help the project get a solid base from which to develop and more recently MRDF have helped the project gain somel arger funding from Comic Relief. Some of you may have seen the clip on Sport's Relief featuring Tess Daley breaking down in flood of tears when one of the children she had met was involved in an accident.

The latest estimate is that there are around 1million street children in this the capital city so the work of CSKS is an essential part of seeking to give children a quality of life they deserve.

After a bit of a rest we were taken to the CSKS headquarters where we met with the Chairman, a 70 year old lawyer with a deep passion for all they are doing, and members of the staff. Here we met with a group of dedicated people who are committed to the vision of helping these poor vulnerable children come off the streets and be taught self-worth, be educated and hopefuly find employment.

We were driven through the congested traffic to Karwan Bazar which is one the Catchment areas for initial contact with the children who are otern ound working in te markets and sleein rough every night where they become victims to drugs, sexual prostitution abd a life of little worth. The crowds gathered around us as we chatted to some of the project workers and met some of the children they are working with. They encourage the children to attend the 'class room under the sky' and we estimaed about 700-80 children at each of them.

There are 6 centres where 50 children at ech centre live as part of an extended family. Here they have 3 meals a day, are taught basic education, health care and life skills as well as some vocationl taining in sewing, carpentry or candle making.

We went to the one at Karwan Bazar and had a wonderful; time playing games, having our hair done, watching some girls dance and the boys doing their skills training. On the way home we stopped off at one of the 'class room under the sky' and were deeply impressed by all we saw. We met a few young men who had been in the 'class room under the sky for 7 years nd now had permanent employment. A real succes story but so much need.

We will see much more over the coming three days and I know the three of us will continue to be deeply moved with compasion mixed with a sense of impotence. Yet the good news is that through MRDF change is coming and I'll have more wonderful tsories of transformation in the next few days.

This may include how Audrey improves on her dancing and Amanda has a new hair look!!

1 comment:

John Cooper said...

Great to read more stories made possible thanks to the generosity of the Methodist people. MRDF manages to do some amazing work, with (and through) amazing people all supported by a small (dedicated) staff team.

As I ever, I take my hat off to MRDF!

Its great to read such a substantial update (with some cracking pictures) and i look forward to the next one.

Safe Travels
Warm Regards