What Activistas can learn from Salma – a former street child

In Bangladesh the “Vision of Girls”-project is one of the ways Action Aid fights to create better futures for young girls. As a member of Activista I have had the honor to meet Salma who used to live in the street.

Former street child - future doctor

Meet Salma Akter kanta with a smiling face, she is 13 years old. At this moment she is studying in the 7th grade at one of the best school in the Dhaka city. She is the second highest score achiever in her class. Her friends prefer to address her as Kanta. She loves to spend time and play with her friends. She is also taking singing lessons. Her favorite subject is math. She would like to become a doctor, when I asked why she replied confidently:

 Many people die without receiving the proper medical treatment. I want to provide medical services to those as a doctor and prevent them from dying.

 Life on the street

Four years back Salma was living with her mother and stepbrother in the streets of Polashi near to old Dhaka. Her father died before her birth. They used to beg for living near to the traffic signals. Everyday there were constant fights and she had to face rude behaviors of people. Her living conditions were not hygienic and moreover it was a regular struggle to get food. Salma was found by Farhana Nahid, who is the day incharge of Happy Home Lalbagh, when they where conducting a survey about street children.

Happy Homes: Center for Deprived and Vulnerable Adolescent Girls in Dhaka is a project supported by ActionAid Bangladesh.

At first Salma was scared to come to Happy Homes but soon, with proper counseling by Farhana, made her come to the Home. Farhana says “It is very challenging work to make the street children and their parents understand what we can do for them. But surprisingly Salma could comprehend and she took a very strong decision by giving up her previous life for her new bright future”.

 29 sisters

Salma is very happy to be in Happy Home. She says: “I do not have to worry about food and clothes anymore. I have a proper place to sleep with safety and security. Everyone here is very nice to me.”

Salma stays here with other 29 girls. These girls are her sisters and they go everywhere together. For Salma being with her sisters is a strength, if they are together she feels protected and can face any problems challenges. “Salma is a very quick learner and it is indeed an achievement the way she is progressing with determination considering her past life” says Kamrun Naher Ahmed-project manager in charge of Happy Home.

Make use of what you have

I did not realize before talking to Salma, I have so many things in my life which I do not appreciate and so many more which I do not make use of. Salma made a point in her life, by making the best use of things that she had in Happy Homes. We all need to think about that.

In Activista we may dream high but maybe we lack the knowledge that our visions can be realities if we make the best use of our resources. All we have to do is to recognize what we have and what we can do with it to make our dreams be alive.