In Southeastern Bangladesh
Geography & Climate
- Located in South Asia, Bangladesh is in the low-lying Ganges-Brahmaputra River Delta.
- Bangladesh has a tropical monsoon climate characterized by heavy seasonal rainfall, high temperatures and high humidity.
- The southeastern region of Bangladesh is a hilly area near the coast.
- During the annual monsoon season, flooding is common in the southeast.
- Bangladesh is widely recognized as one of the countries most susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change.
The southeast region 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.
Nearly half of the country’s population is employed in agriculture. Given the frequency of natural disasters and volatile weather patterns, those who rely on farming for their livelihood are highly vulnerable.
The per capita annual income is an estimated U.S.$1,500.
Forty percent of the population is underemployed. Many people counted as employed work only a few hours a week and at low wages.
Some families supplement their earnings through cottage industries such as weaving.
Children at Home
Children in southeastern Bangladesh typically grow up in small, crowded homes with five or more people.
Their houses are made of bamboo, wood and straw, and measure an average of 15 feet by 20 feet.
Since houses are often built on hillsides, 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.
Water is often collected from a community well several miles away.
Issues and Concerns
For subsistence, the Bawm people depend completely on the crops they grow. The vegetation is left to grow on its own and then harvested. This leaves crops at the mercy of the weather, and periods of drought or flooding can be devastating.
During cultivation season, most adults find work on larger farms, but off-season jobs are scarce.
Most families in this region struggle to survive on less than U.S.$1.50 a day.
Few families in the area have 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.
Local Needs and Challenges
Extreme poverty is the biggest challenge for families in southeastern Bangladesh, and children rarely have basic needs met.
Children here commonly suffer from malnutrition, skin disease, and respiratory and intestinal illness. However, parents can’t afford medical assistance when their children need it.
Children are vulnerable to the monsoon storms and flooding, which claim many young lives each year.
An extreme shortage of schools exists in this region.
Schools and Education
- 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, 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
In partnership with local worship centers, Compassion is bringing help and hope to impoverished children in southeastern Bangladesh.
To combat malnutrition, children receive nutritious meals at their Compassion centers.
They receive the tuition, uniforms and supplies required to attend school as well as the extra tutoring they need to excel academically.
Centers also ensure children’s physical health by providing regular checkups, vaccinations and medical assistance when needed.
Thousands of mosquito bed nets have been distributed to children in this region to protect against malaria.
Center workers also encourage assisted children to be proud of their cultural heritage. On Aug. 9 of each year, International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, children participate in a fair and special activities that highlight individual cultures.
For parents, centers conduct regular workshops to teach good parenting practices and emphasize the importance of education to their children’s future.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local worship centers, Compassion is bringing help and hope to children in need in southeastern Bangladesh, providing them with:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- educational assistance
- access to special services like surgeries and disaster relief
- mentoring to help children discover their incredible value as God’s children