How it all began
After the War of Independence in 1971, a small Canadian charity Families for Children opened a children’s home in Dhaka to care for the many children left abandoned and starving in the streets. In 1977, a support group was set up in the UK called Families for Children (UK), and in 1981 a British Airways stewardess – Pat Kerr – visited the home. She subsequently took unpaid leave to work there as a volunteer.
It was obvious that the home was a temporary solution and eventually the landlord gave us notice to leave. Gerry Devereux, Pat’s boss at British Airways, became involved, he involved the Board of Directors, and a plan was drawn up to build a purpose-built home outside the city. Pat found a suitable piece of land, on high ground, and Families for Children bought it. British Airways asked some of their contractors to help, plans were drawn up, and a Bangladesh businessman tendered for the build at no profit.
The new village:
On 6th February 1989 there was a formal opening ceremony of the Sreepur Village attended by the President of Bangladesh, Hussein Mohammed Ershad, and Lord King of British Airways.
With the new village ready for occupation, it was possible to open up the programme to accept women and their children, rather than separating the children from their mothers which had happened previously.
Pat Kerr lived at Shishu Polli for the next two years to oversee the project and to set up the many programmes required to support and train the women and children who came to live with us.
In subsequent years FFC and Sreepur grew and developed in different ways. In order to focus the fundraising, it was decided to register Shishu Polli Plus as a separate organisation with the NGO Bureau in Bangladesh. FFC UK became entirely responsible for raising the funds for SPP and several years later re-registered as The Sreepur Village, Bangladesh.
In the past 33 years, the project has grown, developed and adapted in line with the many changes within Bangladesh. Pat Kerr, Overseas Director, still lives at Sreepur managing over 100 staff ensuring we are giving the best possible care and opportunities to the people in our charge.