Although newer development focus is emerging around the urban space, major development interventions in Bangladesh continue to be in the rural locations. These initiatives are in the areas of livelihoods, education, governance etc. However, the impacts of climate change and misgovernance of natural and other resources, among many other issues, exacerbate the poverty situation. Internal migration can be seen as one of the resultant effects of it. People leave their anchestral land to make life in Dhaka and other cities.
Already saturated, the slums in the cities cannot accommodate all these people. Nearly half of the people who move to the cities are children sometimes forced to live rough on the streets. Amidst concerns such as the lack of food, safety, hygiene etc., these children become exposed to sexual harassment and abuse.
The Happy Homes initiative works in this backdrop. The project has helped a lot of girls to leave the uncertain and extreme conditions that street life is. At Happy Homes, we ensure safe and secured living condition for the girls, healthy meals, hygiene and sanitation along with any psychological councelling and recreation. Once the girls are settled in, we link them up with mainstream schools. As an exit mechanism, we also offer vocational skill developent sessions so they girls can choose a potential career later on.
By the time they girls reach 18 years of age, they would have completed secondary schooling and acquired a few vocational skills to make a living on their own. This is when they leave the Happy Homes to start small entrepreneurship in a group, or take on a job individually making room for new children to come in. The Homes also serves as a drop-in centre for children who come here for daily necessities such as safe water, sanitation, recreation etc. Since 2006, we have helped more than 17 thousand girls (April 2016 update):
- 1021 girls slept safe from any fear of abuse
- 1021 girls were linked to mainstream education
- 150 girls received Hepatitis B vaccination
- 735 girls received vocational skills training
- 396 girls were placed in secured jobs
- 871 girls were reintegrated with family/society
- 17,443 girls accessed day-time facilities
The five Happy Homes in Dhaka now accommodate 150 girls. If you are wondering about what goes behind the initiative, BDT 35,03,387 is spent to support 30 girls (one Happy Home) for an entire year. To break it down further, BDT 8,221 can support one girl a month.
Each of these girls deserves a better shot at life. We are doing all we can to help. But one can only do so much.
If you’d like to stand by children like Sonia, please let us know here. Thank you!