His name is Sagor, he is 12 years old and he has been sheltering at The Sreepur Village night shelter in Tongi for the last 11 months.
He has always lived in extreme poverty. As part of a family of five, Sagor’s father was the only one who had an able body to work but it wasn’t enough to provide adequately for the whole family. Around fiive years ago Sagor’s father was crushed to death beneath the wheels of a lorry, sadly his mother died just two years later. Sagor was forced to live with his uncle but this provided nothing but a life of torture, abuse and beatings. One day, after being beaten badly once again for absolutely no reason, he got on a bus headed for Dhaka to escape.
Tongi Railway station became Sagor’s new home. He slept on the platform of the station exposed to the risk of abuse, trafficking and all manner of dangers. The Night Shelter, run by The Sreepur Village in Tongi, provides a safe and nurturing alternative for Sagor, giving him respite from the dangers of the streets. Sometimes he will use the Drop-In Centre during the day where there’s access to toilets, showers and most importantly food for lunch! Most often this will be the only access he has to food.
Like most of the kids on the streets this 11-year-old boy began to take drugs following in the steps of the other kids he met at the station and on the streets. He has had no education, but alas still considers himself lucky enough to have learned his numbers and the alphabet from the shelter. This has helped him to calculate the money he needs to buy his food and drugs.
In Sagor’s words, “what can I do? I have to survive myself. Every time, I have to think, how I will manage my next meal and others! I do a lot of things. Once, I work as a helper in a human hauler. Then I worked in a car garage. There they tortured me a lot. Subsequently, I’m running away. Then I started to work as a Tokai (recycling rubbish, begging, washing buses or doing any sort of things that would earn them some food). Independent business! However, first I used to smoke bidis or cigarettes. Then I started taking drugs. I was introduced to different types of drugs by other children of the street. I did not feel pain or hunger when I took glue, a kind of drug. I‘m trying to quit it, but it’s difficult”.
Sadly, most of the cases we come across are children just like Sagor. These children are from poverty-stricken families, broken families or have been forced flee to escape the pain and fear of constant torture. Then they fall into the path of child labour and gradually get over taken by drug abuse and other unthinkable illegal behaviours. It is often argued that children's wages are essential to the survival of poor families. But the children who have been forced to sacrifice their education for work are doomed to a lifetime of high-risk low-wage jobs and they are then trapped in cycle of poverty, with history repeating itself for their children and so on. Sagor is one of the 689,037 child labourers in Dhaka division. While countries across the globe observe World Day Against Child Labour on 12th June, there are an estimated 3.45 million working children aged between 5 and 17 in the country, according to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS (Survey-2013). They are most vulnerable are those in the urban areas where they are easily victimized by drugs which cause irreparable destruction to their lives. This is what we are observing and attempting to change in our Tongi Street Children Project.
We tried to bring Sagor, and others like him, into our foster shelter project for rehabilitation. The years of exploitation and addiction has very sadly changed their mental form. Every day, approximately 50 children use our Drop-In-Centre and 30 children use the Night Shelter. We have a vast plan for these children for supporting them but we really do require more support from you all to fund this vitally important project.
Please donate as little or as much as you can afford today. Thank you.
Just £25 will support Sagor and other abandoned children at the Rehabilitation House. https://www.sreepurvillage.org/collections/gifts-that-give/products/supporting-children-at-the-rehabilitation-house
£80 will feed street children including Sagor for a whole week! https://www.sreepurvillage.org/collections/gifts-that-give/products/buy-lunch-for-a-street-child
Ignorance and wrong beliefs surrounding disability, compounded with a negative and derogatory attitude of the community (including family members) have contributed to the marginal development in the disability sector in Bangladesh.