In Dhaka, it is a common sight to see street children running around, dodging vehicles, and weaving in and out of traffic jams. Some beg for money while others attempt to sell flowers, stickers or candy. It is also common to see street children carrying loads, often too heavy a burden for their little shoulders. But these are only a few examples of occupations street children are forced to take on. Many homeless boys and girls at BRAC’s children’s centres for the urban street children programme (USCP) were involved in similar jobs before being taken in, in 2013.
If girls had the same access to resources as their male peers, went to school regularly, led lives free of domestic violence and avoided early marriage, agricultural output would increase 4 percent and the number of malnourished men, women and children would drop 17 percent.
A Bengali organization founded almost 40 years ago, BRAC is one of the largest NGO’s in the world. BRAC does tremendous work in and outside of Bangladesh, and has programs promoting economic development, health, education, gender justice – the list goes on. When I found out I would be working with BRAC this past April I was excited since it is such a pioneering organization, but I was also really looking forward to working with BRAC since I have a soft spot in my heart for Bangladesh. I had the chance to live in Bangladesh for four months last year as a social business intern at the Yunus Centre, and my time in the country was certainly life altering.
Today, Jasmine Lamb launched a campaign on her blog, allislistening.com, to raise over $5,000 for BRAC's adolescent girls program in Bangladesh by Thanksgiving. Jasmine heard about The Girl Effect and BRAC's programs from a friend and connected with the powerful message of investing in young girls. BRAC's Social and Financial Empowerment of Adolescents project (SOFEA) is an initiative aimed at providing girls with financial and social support to enable them to empower themselves. The program gives girls a safe space to socialize while providing them with life skills training, livelihood training, financial literacy training, and small loans to start income-generating activities.
Below is a post from Crystal Chen of The MasterCard Foundation, one of BRAC's partners. She's currently visiting BRAC's programs in Uganda along with other members of the MasterCard team. She wrote this after visiting one of the girls clubs in our Empowerment and Livelihoods for Adolescents (ELA) Program.