Uplift offers freedom for Sanu*'s children
By Fiona McIvor | Bangladesh in South Asia
Representative image by Srimathi Jayaprakash via Unsplash
32-year-old mother-of-three, Sanu*, says simply: “Feeding my kids and having a roof over our heads are my main concerns in life.”
At the age of 10, Sanu was sent from her village to Dhaka City to become a house helper. Her family was poor, and her mother believed this would be a better life for her.
Violence from her employers, though, caused Sanu to run away. She gravitated to a Mazar (a hub for people living on the streets in that area) which was home to a network that exploiting women and girls in street sex work, and she became part of it. Then, after a few years, she married a client and had to take on all kinds of jobs – including working in garment factories and loading bricks for construction – to provide for her family and try to move them off the streets.
When she lost one of her jobs, though, with no other way to provide for her children, Sanu was forced back into begging.
Her middle daughter had already been taken into foster care by an extended family member in the village and her eldest was being helped by an NGO that works with youth. Determined to provide better opportunities for all her children, Sanu also agreed to enroll in the SIM’s Children’s Uplift Programme (CUP).
The programme seeks to protect and bring freedom to vulnerable women and children on the streets of Dhaka who are at high risk of exploitation and trafficking. For mothers, this is done by inviting them to join a holistic one-year care journey, learning Biblical principles through Bible studies and vocational skills so they can find secure employment. While the women learn sewing, jewellery-making, literacy and numeracy, their children are cared for by the children’s team who enroll and support them in local schools. This involves lots of advocacy as many schools don’t want to enroll kids who are so far behind. Many graduates of CUP transition to work as artisans in a partner business.
Sanu thrived in the programme, gaining greater stability, better literacy, and more life skills. Her plan was to transition to our partner business as an artisan, and she was excited to gain more skills in this position. Following the death of her husband, though, she took over the running of his street cart instead. In follow-up visits, she told CUP workers that she is enjoying this new role and that it is going well.
One of the challenges of working with Sanu’s family has been helping her children into education. Her eldest daughter, still only 12, had left schooling behind a long time ago. While her links with another NGO provided opportunities for peer support alongside other kids living on the street, she had no way to gain vocational skills. With CUP, though, the door is open for her to become an artisan herself, and Sanu’s 18-month-old will benefit from follow up support that focusses on eventually supporting children into school.
With support from CUP, Sanu’s children have real hope of more than just their day’s food and a roof over their heads. Beyond their basic needs,they now have a chance to respond to the gospel, gain education and life-skills, and step off the streets for good.
•For the many vulnerable women and children on the streets of Dakha.
•That Sanu and her children will be able to find both a safer life off the streets and a renewed life in Christ.
•That God would continue to provide financial resources and volunteers to keep this programme going strong.
To give to the Children's Uplift Programme, please click here to find your closest office and quote project number #098336.
CUP has opportunities for volunteers in health, social work, community development, communications, graphic design and business development.
To enquire about working in this project, please email email@example.com
*name changed for privacy