Odommo-Bangladesh-Foundation, Working for a Humanitarian Cause | World Humanitarian Day 2021

A “street-children” free Bangladesh, the goal of Mojar-School.

World Humanitarian Day commemorates the people who are working continuously to make the lives of other people better. Mostly dedicated to the frontline workers who take enormous risks, sometimes even risks their own lives to stand beside those in need. Humanitarian workers are helping and supporting the people who are suffering every day because of poverty, disabilities, or climate. As a human, they strongly believe that only humans can stand beside each other to support and bring a change. 

Odommo Bangladesh Foundation, a humanitarian organization, working towards building a street-child-free Bangladesh since 2013. Its ultimate purpose is to build a better future for the children living in the streets and make them acceptable to our society. 

Sufferings of the “street-children”

As our society thinks that street-children are violent, have problems with drug addictions, lack morals, lost the ability to feel love/ emotions, turn into criminals/ terrorists. Forgetting the fact that most of these “street-children” don’t have anyone to guide or teach them how to interact socially; most of them just learn from other “street-children” or reciprocate the behaviors that are shown towards them. 

The reason

The majority of “street-children” don’t have any trace of their guardians, although some are runaways, neglected by broken families, lacks parental communication and care, or from a family suffering from grave poverty. These children run away or don’t go home because of neglect and abuse from their guardians, and few came to live on the streets with the fascination and enormous freedom of life on the streets. 

Drugs and addiction

Bangladesh Shishu Adhidar forum conducted a survey, almost a decade ago, showed that 85 percent of “street-children” are addicted to drugs. Street-children start drug usage either from the pain of hunger or because of their company. The little money they earn from working as Tokai, luggage carrier, beggar, street vendor, or child labor, that is not enough to buy a filling meal for them. So most of them prefer to spend the money on drugs rather than the small amount of food. They use harmful psychoactive substances for addiction. These drugs numb their hunger and pain additionally keeps them away from the harsh reality they are living in. Drug usage later leads to accidents, violence, unwanted pregnancies, socio-behavioral problems; also causes brain damage or liver failure, if used for a long term. 

Malnutrition and unhealthy lifestyle

Street-children don’t have access to basic resources to maintain healthy lives. Lack of Nutrition in street-children’s diet causes severe malnutrition. They can’t afford protein-based food (meat, fish, egg) or vitamin-based food (fruits, nuts, milk, vegetables), which are very important for a growing child’s body. Eating only rice, bread, dal, and potatoes doesn’t help much on the nutritional side rather helps them feel satiated for a long time. 

In addition, these children don’t have access to sanitation and hygiene facilities, such as toilets and a supply of clean and safe water. Not cleaning their body for long periods leads to rashes, the roughness of skin, and other skin diseases. Lack of vaccination, malnutrition and poor hygiene later lead to serious health conditions which can’t be reversed or cured. Even if the illnesses are curable, the “street-children” don’t have financial backup to receive medical support. 

Illiteracy and unemployment

Among all these hardships and lack of privileges, the street-children are also neglected from receiving proper education. Most of them don’t have the moral sense of education or building a better future. They live their lives with no clue about what will happen to them tomorrow. Due to illiteracy, they are unable to change their lifestyle or go to a better position in life. Their liability to receive education or acquire skills necessary to find jobs stops them from finding a better income source. So this cycle of poverty and illiteracy continues through generations as when these “street-children” become adults and have children they are unable to provide a better future for their offspring. 

Mojar-School’s actions for building a street-child free Bangladesh

Children are the future of our nation. As long as they are suffering our nation will keep suffering. An ICDDRB (2014) study shows that there are 445,000 street-children in Bangladesh; among them, about 300,000 street-children are living in the streets of Dhaka. Mojar-School is continuously working towards rehabilitating these “street-children”. Following the slogan of Mojar-School, Food-Education-Medical-Technology; we are making sure in every step that these street-children are in a good health. To build a better future for the street-children it is important to ensure nutritious food, quality education, medical services, and understanding of technology for them. 

Food & Nutrition Program

After regularly providing nutritious food for the street-children, they have shown progress in their mental and physical health. Those regular “street-children” on food points are now always in a cheerful and good mood, behave nicely, and are surprisingly leaving their drug addiction habit. 

As children’s drug addiction is not as severe as adults’, they can be cleared without using any detoxification. But the long-term users still need isolated rehabilitation along with psychological counseling from professionals. 

Education Program

Along with nutritious food, it is also important to provide street-children with quality education. So that they can have at least minimum qualifications to find a job or a good source of income. Mojar-School’s Permanent School is providing free education for such children; from 6th grade, they also get the chance to receive technical education. Although the “street-children” are first contacted through the Under-the-Sky – Open Schools of Mojar-School. Receiving informal education and getting to know them is the priority of this phase. Later they are counseled and the importance of education is explained; also their will to receive it and future dreams are put forward. 

Utilizing Technology

Although the closing of educational institutions since the COVID-19 started has been very harmful for the education of underprivileged-children; many are falling back in their studies because of no contact with school or teachers. Mentioning the fact that they are not financially capable of affording the internet or smartphone to go with the flow of the new online education system. Regarding this situation, Mojar School decided to help these underprivileged-students continue their education through phone calls. Students are now contacting us regularly through phone by themselves, to consult with the problems they face while studying.

Odommo Bangladesh Better Stories (OBBS)

The Mojar-School has the Odommo Bangladesh Better Stories (OBBS) project. This project’s purpose is to give the guardians of underprivileged-children an income source of their own. So that they can sustain their family’s expenses and their children’s education costs. We have already employed a lot of underprivileged-families; providing the underprivileged-families with rickshaws, vans, small shops, sewing machines, and cattle. Most importantly, during the pandemic period, many underprivileged-families of Permanent school students lost their source of income, leaving them devastated and suffering from hunger. Education wasn’t a choice for them anymore, their children were at risk of falling victim to child labor. OBBS project was a relief for the students and their families. They now have their income source and won’t have to rely on the rented ones. This hope kept the guardians and students encouraged to continue their education.

Volunteers and Team members

Lastly, comes the backbone of Mojar-School, the volunteers, and team members; working for the underprivileged-children even in this COVID-19 pandemic situation. No weather or pandemic can stop them from helping the “street-children” in need. They perform their tasks, keep everything in order, arrange events, distribute food, and maintain all the COVID-19 safety precautions. Most of Mojar-School’s activities are ongoing in this pandemic because of the support and dedication of the volunteers and team members.

Mojar-School in a brief

Mojar-School (an Odommo Bangladesh Foundation initiative), at present, 2,500 underprivileged-children get the opportunity to study in 08 schools of Mojar-School every month. Of these, 850 underprivileged-children in 04 permanent schools are provided free education according to the National Curriculum; from pre-primary to 5th grade. From 6th grade besides academic education, there is also an arrangement for providing technical education.

Mojar-School reaches an average of 1,650 “street-children” every month through the remaining 04 open schools. Additionally, we provide free-nutritious food to thousands of underprivileged-children and people at multiple food points.

In addition, Mojar-School has been able to support a total of 155 underprivileged-families through Odommo-Bangladesh-Better-Stories (OBBS).

In conclusion, Odommo Bangladesh Foundation has been working to implement a sustainable and specific plan. So it can be possible to build a street-child-free Bangladesh by 2033.

To accomplish a better future…

The right to be Human is denied every day to millions of children due to poverty. Odommo Bangladesh Foundation working for a humanitarian cause believes that any child suffering anywhere should be a matter of concern for mankind. Because these children are going to be the future citizens of the Earth; they will be the ones passing out our knowledge and good deeds to the next generations. So as adults and guardians, we should teach them that we should be the pillar of support when someone is in need as human beings. We can only have a sense of peace in the world if everyone is provided with a decent standard of living.