Bangla

Bangla

Bangla, also known as Bengali, is the primary language spoken in Bangladesh. Southeastern Bangladesh, bordering the Bay of Bengal, India and Myanmar, is inhabited primarily by people of the Bawm tribe, who migrated into the region from India centuries ago. The Bawms live mostly in the hills, where they migrated to from India more than 300 years ago.

Bangladesh Southeastern Region

The Location

 

The Population

161,083,804

The Religion

Islam

The Weather

 
 
  • Children in southeastern Bangladesh typically grow up in dire poverty. Even the most loving parents are unable to meet their children’s needs for food, education and medical care. Bangladesh Boy Sitting on a Beach
  • At Compassion centers, children are provided an age-appropriate curriculum that helps them develop their minds, bodies, social skills and understanding of how much they are loved by God. Bangladesh Boy Drawing in Notebook
  • Most water sources in the southeast are contaminated and a primary cause of illness. But the poor have no other choice than to use these sources for drinking and other daily needs. Bangladesh Woman Drinking from Lake
  • Children attending Compassion centers in the southeast regularly enjoy nutritious meals and the care of loving adults. Bangladesh Woman and Girl Eating Lunch
  • Their Compassion center in southeastern Bangladesh is a haven of love and learning, where these boys can enjoy carefree time just being kids. Bangladesh Group of Smiling Boys
  • Children in Bangladesh commonly work instead of attend school. Every little bit they earn helps their poor families. Bangladesh Girl With a Pot On Her Head
 

Overview: Southeastern Region

The southeastern region of Bangladesh is a hilly area near the coast. The area is made up of many small villages, most with populations of less than 500. The primary crop is tobacco, but the fields are badly eroded due to years of poor cultivation methods.

The Bawm people of southeastern Bangladesh are one of five major tribes of the country. They are a desperately poor people, struggling to survive during seasons when there are no crops or jobs. Children in the region suffer from malnutrition, skin diseases, asthma and diarrhea. Few families can make the long drive to hospitals or clinics in the city.

The people of the Bawm tribe make up most of the population of southeastern Bangladesh. The Bawms live mostly in the hills, where they migrated to from India more than 300 years ago. Unlike most tribes in Bangladesh, the Bawm encourage women to be involved in the day-to-day affairs of their culture. Many Bawm women work as vegetable sellers, shopkeepers or fish sellers at the market.

Bawm culture is considered fairly liberal by Bangladeshi standards. Young people are allowed to choose their own spouse, unlike most Bangladeshis who have arranged marriages. Bawms traditionally don’t smoke tobacco or drink alcohol, although that custom is fading as Bawm teens are influenced by surrounding tribes.

 

Culture Corner

SHEMAI

A delicious but not-too-sweet vermicelli

Prepare shemai, a typical Bengali dish.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 handfuls very fine vermicelli
  • 4 cups milk
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 handful raisins
  • 4 almonds, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 pint whipping cream

PROCEDURE

Melt the butter in a pot at a low heat. Break up the vermicelli and stir into the butter. When it turns golden brown, add the milk and stir, increasing the heat until the mixture boils. Add the sugar, raisins and almonds. Cook for 10 minutes at a low heat. Pour in the cream and cook for a few more minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Chill vermicelli in the refrigerator. Serve.

 

Life in Southeastern Bangladesh

Southeastern Bangladesh, bordering the Bay of Bengal, India and Myanmar, is inhabited primarily by people of the Bawm tribe, who migrated into the region from India centuries ago. They live in the region’s hills in small villages, and families earn an average only $1.50 per day.

Work in this region revolves primarily around agriculture. However, this means of livelihood is susceptible to the frequent weather extremes of flooding and drought. The primary crop here is tobacco. Ginger, papaya, bananas, guava, cashews and mangos are also grown.

Homes in this region are typically small, fragile structures of bamboo, wood and straw. For protection from flooding, homes are built high in the hills, where there is no access to electricity or running water. In addition, few homes have adequate sanitation facilities.

Children at Home

Children in southeastern Bangladesh typically grow up in small, crowded homes with five or more people. The houses are often built on hillsides, and children struggle to walk up steep, muddy paths in the rainy season. Few houses have running water or electricity, and there is little access to sanitary bathrooms.

 

Community Issues and Concerns Community in Bangladesh

Bawms build their houses high on the hillsides to avoid flooding. Their houses are made of bamboo, wood and straw, and measure an average of 15 by 20 feet in size.

For subsistence, the Bawm people depend completely on the crops they grow through a process called zoom cultivation, in which the vegetation is left to grow on its own and is then harvested. This style of cultivation leaves Bawms at the mercy of the weather, and periods of drought or flooding can be devastating. During the cultivation season most adults find work on farms, but in the off-season jobs are scarce. Most families in this region struggle to survive on less than $1.50 a day.

Few families in the area have access to clean running water at home. Most must travel for miles over steep hills to collect water, and then haul it back home in heavy metal drums. These sheer paths also make for harrowing drives. Four-wheel-drive vehicles like Jeeps are the only kinds of transport that can negotiate the mountainous roads. Often 10 or more people pile into one vehicle to travel to another town. These trips are long, arduous and dangerous.

The typical diet of the Bawm people consists of nappi (dried fish), rice, mangoes, and monkey, snake and frog meat.

Local Needs and Challenges

Extreme poverty is the biggest challenge for families in southeastern Bangladesh, and children rarely have even their most basic needs met. Children here commonly suffer from malnutrition, skin disease, and respiratory and intestinal illness. However, parents cannot afford to seek medical assistance when their children need it. In addition, children are vulnerable to the monsoon storms and flooding, which claim many young lives each year. There is also a widespread lack of schools in this desperately impoverished region.

 

Schools and Education Education in Bangladesh

Lack of education hinders economic development among the Bawm people. Only 15 percent of adults in this region can read or write. In Rowangchari, the largest city in southeastern Bangladesh, only one primary school and one high school exist. In the primary school, just nine teachers serve 350 students, and in the high school, six teachers serve 280 students.

The majority of Bawm students who aren’t registered with Compassion will drop out before completing primary school. Most of these children attend school for only one year and then drop out at age 6, largely because their parents can’t afford school fees or books.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Child development centers in southeastern Bangladesh provide registered children with a place to learn and grow. Nearly 85 percent of adults in this region can’t read or write, so children generally have no educational support. At the child development center, registered children get help with their homework and can attend tutoring sessions. They also spend time writing to and praying for their sponsors.

 

Working Through the Local Church

Compassion is the only organization in Bangladesh that works directly in partnership with the church. The Compassion program enables a church to reach into the community and serve impoverished children and their families.

The church building is used for program activities. Here, registered children receive a wide range of benefits, including nutritious meals, medical assistance, payment of school fees, clothing, hygiene supplies, spiritual teaching and the love of caring Christian staff members.

Even non-Christian parents are glad to send their children to the church for these benefits, which they cannot afford. Also, because of Compassion’s excellent reputation for serving children, doors are opened for church staff and members to share the gospel with their community.

How Compassion Works in Bangladesh Compassion in Bangladesh

Working Through the Local Church

Compassion is the only organization in Bangladesh that works directly in partnership with the church. The Compassion program enables a church to reach into the community and serve impoverished children and their families.

The church building is used for program activities. Here, registered children receive a wide range of benefits, including nutritious meals, medical assistance, payment of school fees, clothing, hygiene supplies, spiritual teaching and care. Children are known, loved and protected by their sponsors and program staff members.

Parents are glad to send their children to the church for these benefits, which they cannot afford. Also, because of Compassion’s excellent reputation for serving children, doors are opened for church staff and members to share God's love with their community.

How Compassion Works in Bangladesh Compassion in Bangladesh

Compassion's work in Bangladesh began in 2003. Nearly 5,000 children waiting to be sponsored are currently registered in 135 child development centers.

Compassion partners with churches and denominations, helping them provide Bangladeshi children with a program of long-term, holistic child development. This program gives impoverished children the opportunities they need to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

As liaisons between local church partners and Compassion, Partnership Facilitators play a vital role. Among other duties, they assess partners’ needs, monitor their implementation of child development activities, provide training for their staff, and relay information from the national office.

Glen Hillol Khan is Partnership Facilitator for eight Compassion-assisted child development centers in northern Bangladesh. For Glen to visit the centers, which are located in remote villages, he uses a combination of buses, rickshaws and motorbikes.

Expressing his passion for serving children in need, Glen says, “I grew up in a village, so I know what these children face. I believe if they are cared for, they will someday contribute to their communities and ultimately, the country.”

 
 

Prayer Requests

  • Please pray that the Bawm people will begin to understand the importance of education. The area lacks schools and qualified teachers.
  • Please pray that more families will have access to clean water.
  • Pray that through Compassion’s work, families will continue to be released from poverty.