I have been a Trustee of the charity Sreepur Village Bangladesh for many years. I first became involved with the Charity when it was called Families for Children and my great friend Patricia Silvester returned to England from Canada where she had met the founder of the Charity and decided to set up a branch in the UK.
I subsequently visited the project with Trisha in the early eighties when it was an orphanage located in the old British passport office in Dhaka the capital. It was then literally wall to wall babies and I shall never forgot the anguish of young mothers (and fathers) signing over their babies to the Charity.
At about that time Pat Kerr a British Airways Flight Attendant discovered the Charity and to cut a long story short persuaded BA to sponsor a new purpose built children’s village in Sreepur some 2 hours out into the countryside from Dhaka.
The village successfully opened in 1989 and from then on has gone from strength to strength. Around this time the name was changed to Sreepur Village Bangladesh. Things have changed over the years – now it is mainly destitute women and their children who are given shelter and the opportunity to learn a trade so that they can eventually support themselves. At the same time their children are given an education.
In the early days I ran a small fund raising committee. It was before charity shops appeared and we collected nearly new clothes from around our village and took these and other bric-a-brac items to car boots and the like. At the same time a friend of mine with many social connections through her husband’s business organised a couple of Balls. A well known celebrity attended and we ran an auction of things donated by local businesses and much to our delight made a handsome profit.
Another time a company sponsored a container for the charity to send much needed items from the UK to Bangladesh. A local school allowed us to store these in an empty class room until we had enough to fill the container. Loading it was another matter and we enlisted the help of two lads from the local prison.
Being a Trustee has opened-up so many experiences for me in addition to visiting the project and I feel really lucky that I have been a very small part of such a successful venture which is very dear to me.
Life can sometimes throw unimaginable challenges at us, but it's the human spirit's resilience and determination that can lead to remarkable stories of triumph.
Lia's life is a testament to this spirit, marked by adversity, courage, and ultimate success. Lia's story draws parallels to other stories of perseverance, and highlights the crucial role of organisations like Sreepur Village in transforming lives.
Out of the blue, at the tender age of 13, Chia found herself sitting on a bridal stage, about to marry a man who was 35 years old. Her parents had arranged the match, finding the man from their nearby locality in Bhairab.
He was a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) businessman who occasionally sold vegetables and fruits on the street. Chia's aspirations and youthful dreams were abruptly interrupted by this sudden marriage. Instead of books, she found herself with kitchen utensils in her hands. She went from feeling like a princess to becoming a servant overnight.