Bangladesh's Invisible People Claim Their Own Space
Dhaka, one of the world most over crowded cities, grows by an average of 1,418 people every day, and its slums are grim. But pavement dwellers, who cannot afford even a life in the slums, survive with a harder level of grimness. Sometimes treated as human debris, their socio economic, political and human rights have been shattered no small part because they are the unseen.
lived on the pavement in front of Comfort Hospital on Green Road, she Air Max Thea Women's Asos
And yet, it takes an effort to ignore them. Visit certain areas of the city in the hours after dark, and you will find men, women and children sleeping on the sidewalks without an inch of space between them. Still, the city approximately 40,000 dwellers face social ostracism and have remained largely unacknowledged on an official level until Concern Worldwide drew attention to them six years ago with the start of a program called Manush, or Are People Too. a small woman with a worn, determined face, ended up on the street when her marriage fell apart. She traveled to the capital city from Syhlet, 270 kilometers to the northeast. In Bangladesh, women lose their place in the family of their birth when they are married. If a partnership fails, a woman, left with her children, often has to find her way forward alone.
Since March 2008, Concern has reached 14,476 pavement dwellers like Hazara, among them 7,466 men and 7,001 women. Working with partner organizations, Concern has established life changing programs, including twelve multi purpose centers for pavement dwellers that offer daycare services for children ages 2 to 6, tutorial support for children of elementary school age, night shelter facilities for women, children and adolescent girls, basic healthcare services and bathing and toilet facilities.
Dhaka, Bangladesh most of the last 14 years, Hazara Begum has lived an invisible life.
Bithi Kahtun moved to the pavement with her two boys, Mehedi, now 9 years old, and Romjan, 4, after her husband abandoned his family to marry another woman. Concern has been helping her since 2012. She, in fact, remembers the specific date that year that she moved into one of the Concern shelters: Nov. 10.
The ground breaking program also has included intangible support, helping pavement dwellers reclaim their self respect, and advocating successfully on their behalf with government officials. The government has begun to recognize them in national documents, to allow pavement dwellers children to obtain Nike Air Max Thea Size 2
birth certificates, to provide stipends to children who have found their way into primary school, and to allow some to obtain voter registration cards. The official papers are especially important because pavement dwellers need them in order to escape the streets and find a place to rent. For Hazara the education of her children is her passport off the pavement.
Shahnaz is among those who have made the journey from pavement dweller to renter. Her mother died when she was 8 years old. Her stepmother beat her up and denied meals on a regular basis, so Shahnaz finally ran away from home, claiming a place on the pavement at the National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka.
She is still the exception. Pavement dwellers live on the same patch of pavement for an average of 12 years, surviving the monsoons that span June to September by covering themselves with plastic bags stitched together, the only shelter they have. Concern works at night to distribute plastic sheeting and blankets.
She worked as a maid Nike Air Max Tavas Essentials
said. used to beg on the streets People never treated us as human beings. They often beat us up had to face so many indecent proposals from the local thugs that I feared for myself and my little boys all the time. she has a job as a maid, earning under $15 a month, and even more importantly, she has hopes for the future. am no longer scared for my children, or afraid of my belongings getting stolen, she says. Mehedi already in school, hopefully I can earn more once Romjan gets older. see how we are helping Hazara, Bithi, Shahnaz and those like them reclaim their own lives warms my heart. I proud that our Concern team in Bangladesh has taken the lead in letting the government know these people exist. But there is more to do. Pavement dwellers are among the silent, undocumented, unprotected poor. If we don create a noise around them, they will be forgotten not only for their lifetimes, but for generations.
and then at a garment factory, but was constantly subject to verbal, physical and sexual abuse. She became part of the Concern program in 2010, was given training two years Grey Air Max Thea Premium later to enable her to open a food cart and start her own business selling snacks like egg rolls. Building on this success, Shahnaz has rented her own home.
Each night, this single mother sleeps with her three children on the same square patch of sidewalk where I recently visited her, where she has slept for the last 14 years. Each day, she hides away her meager belongings to make way for the pedestrians, and works when she can as a substitute garbage sorter, earning no more than 30 cents before sun sets far less.
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