Engaging in sports intrinsically makes you more mindful about your body. You may start speculating how to be healthier – a good entry point for inquiring about your general well-being. For adolescent girls in marginalised communities, these questions can lead to discussions about more sensitive topics, particularly sexual and reproductive health.
Even though Bangladesh has made considerable progress in development over the past four decades, there are still many issues left to grapple - one major concern being safety and security. In an attempt to address some of the problems, Saferworld initiated its community security project in partnership with BRAC in 2012.
“I had never seen such a large-scale calamity before," said Puja Gloria Rodrigues, psychosocial counsellor from BRAC University’s Institute of Educational Development (IED). Three days after the Rana Plaza collapse, she arrived at the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopaedics Rehabilitation (NITOR) in Dhaka along with a group of counsellors.
Right after the Rana Plaza collapse, a special committee from the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office decided that BRAC would assist in the rehabilitation of amputation survivors. Specialising in upper limb prosthetics support, BRAC’s limb and brace centre (BLBC) has been providing these services, frequently working with the government and other NGOs to reach those who have lost limbs through accidents and diseases.
“Since the collapse, I am too afraid to go back inside a garments factory,” said Ankhi, who used to work in Rana Plaza along with her husband. Although she survived, her husband’s body was never found. Left to provide for their daughter on her own, she had to find another means to survive.
Kabir Mollah was pulled out from under the remains of Rana Plaza four days after the collapse. Now every time he goes into a high-rise building, he gets anxious. Shiuli Khanom was also rescued after four days. “Even though I survived, I felt hopeless,” she says. “I couldn’t sleep. I had so many thoughts and worries. I was shaken and afraid and also physically weak.”
Pervin Khatun lost her husband in the Rana Plaza disaster. “He was the sole breadwinner and I had no prior work experience,” she said. “But running this grocery store will give me a steady income and I can continue to support my family.”
Experience and research has shown that literacy can be a major tool for improving income-generating opportunities, advancing gender equality, and improving health status. Today, on World Literacy Day, it is important to recognise what BRAC and others alike have done to create access to schools and drastically increase enrolment in recent years.
Limia Dewan, senior manager of BRAC Education Programme’s (BEP) children with special needs (CSN) unit, met Belal after conducting a door-to-door survey in Korail slum where he lives. With more than 40,000 inhabitants, Korail is Dhaka city’s largest slum. “Out of that many people, there had to be children with specials needs who needed our attention,” said Limia. “So we set out to find them by asking residents if they knew of any specific cases.”
We do a great deal to raise awareness and warn future generations that our planet’s natural resources cannot be replenished. Climate change is a daunting reality and we have to be conscious of our carbon footprint... the list of issues to reckon with is exhaustive.
Much like unrecognised stars in the vastness of the night sky, children with special needs remain largely invisible in mainstream society. Therefore, while it is important to foster learning and social inclusivity for all children, it is particularly imperative for those with special needs.