October 02

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Found Children’s Voice and Love In A Whole New Place

*Click the 5 mins video blog which summarized my urban program visits in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

My PULSE assignment is a bit unique. It was unusual a PULSE volunteer to be assigned a regional role but based in Save the Children, Philippines (SC). This role requires me to travel out to other countries in Asia region from the assigned Pulse country during my PULSE journey.  Visa application is definitely a big challenge to travel in Asia, especially for countries that Save the Children is serving, e.g. Bangladesh and India.  But at the same time, I was also rewarded the opportunity to travel to a country that I have not ventured to so far in my life.

How far is Dhaka, Bangladesh from Manila, Philippines?   It is actually only 3370 km with flight time of approximately 5 hours.  But it took me almost 14 hours airports to airports with two short connecting fights.  The immigration officer asked me “What is your purpose of your business visit?” I replied “For volunteering work at Save the Children, Bangladesh.”  I got a smile back immediately with this response “Good job, thanks for coming to my country!”  I didn’t expect this response from a stern and serious look officer just a min ago. I believe SC, Bangladesh has made a huge impact in this country.

About 53 million (based on 2014 data) of Bangladesh people are living in urban area, 60% of them are dwelling in slum areas or informal settlements within Dhaka city. Half of these slum dwellers are children; their vulnerability in slum is acutely subjected to unhealthy living condition, poor water, sanitation, and waste management, education and health services.   Many children are denied for these essentials even though they may live close to these services. They are forced into dangerous and exploitative work instead of being able to attend school.  Worst of all, some children are being abused in their own “home” by their closest family.

I have summarized my 4 days urban field trip visit in Dhaka, Bangladesh in a 5 minutes video. I am very much touched by the Children in Bangladesh.  They are much more mature, confident and empowered compared to me when I was at their age. Their desire to change their life could just penetrate your heart and leave a permanent impression within seconds. Definitely it attributes to their living environment which forces them to grow up in such a young age.  Youth is actively raising awareness on child protection issue through theater at the local level. They also participate in local and national level child-led dialogue through National Children’s Task Force (NCTF).

To all children in Bangladesh, “You are one drop of water individually, but you are an ocean together.” I see a bright future in your eyes.