Bangladesh Map

Bangladesh Map

The Garo tribe of northeastern Bangladesh make up the majority of the region, settling in the area after fleeing from Mongolia and traveling through Tibet in the first century. This region of Bangladesh is remote, and is largely known for its tea gardens and tropical forests.

Bangladesh Northeastern Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion


The Weather

  • The most common livelihood in northeastern Bangladesh is farming, carried out with traditional tools, such as cattle-drawn plows. Bangladesh Woman Plowing Field
  • Compassion-assisted children receive tutoring and supplemental academic lessons to compensate for any deficits in their schooling. Bangladesh Children Reading at School
  • Homes in northeastern Bangladesh villages are simple structures that often accommodate large families. Bangladesh House
  • The Garo people are known for their strong work ethic and integrity. Bangladesh Man Carrying Baskets
  • At their Compassion center, children enjoy playing with friends and just being kids. Bangladesh Children Playing
  • In Bangladesh more than 54 million children are younger than 15. Most of them live in extreme poverty. Bangladesh Schoolgirls

Overview: Northeastern Region

Northeastern Bangladesh is known largely for its tea gardens and tropical forests. The region lies in an earthquake-prone zone; the country has experienced more than 65 earthquakes in the past 50 years.

The Garo tribe, which makes up most of the population of northeastern Bangladesh, is largely Christian, and many of their festivals and celebrations are religious in nature. At these celebrations, the Garo people eat dishes made of pork, snails, eel and tortoise — a diet quite different from the rest of the country.

The Garos came to Bangladesh through Tibet in the first century as refugees from Mongolia. Historically, they practiced a religion called Sonatoni, but during the British rule most of the tribe converted to Christianity.

The Garos are among the few remaining societies in which lineage is traced through the mother. Traditionally, the youngest daughter (nokmechik) inherits property from her mother. Sons leave the parents’ house at puberty and are trained in the village bachelor dormitory (nokpante). After getting married, the husband lives in his wife’s house. While Garo property is owned by the women, the men govern the society and domestic affairs and manage the property.

The Garos’ staple food is rice, but they also eat millet, maize and tapioca. Their forests provide them with many vegetables and roots for their curry, but they prize bamboo shoots as a delicacy. They use a kind of potash in curries, which they obtain by burning dry pieces of plantain stems or young bamboos. The ashes from these plants are collected, dipped in water and strained.


Culture Corner


A delicious but not-too-sweet vermicelli

Prepare shemai, a typical Bengali dish.


  • 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


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 Northeastern Bangladesh

Many of the people living in the villages of northeastern Bangladesh are from the Garo tribe. Known for their honesty and industrious spirit, most Garos earn a living by farming. Many of them work on larger farms as day laborers. However, despite their hard work, they earn only a meager wage, insufficient to provide for their children’s basic needs.

Garos typically live in houses made of bamboo, straw and mud. Those who are better off have houses with brick walls and tin roofs. As a rule, these simple houses lack electricity, running water and adequate sanitation facilities.

Children at Home

Garos typically build their homes with bamboo and straw. Some houses have mud-made walls with a roof of straw or plastic sheets. The houses are 7 by 14 feet in size, and usually house five or six people. Most homes have front yards where families keep their pet cows, chickens and ducks.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Bangladesh

The northeastern region is a remote area, and many of the villages have little or no access to hospitals or clinics. Some villages have no medical facilities at all, and the people who live there must travel more than 20 miles for medical care.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children in northeastern Bangladesh’s remote villages face many challenges to growing up healthy and happy. The lack of access to medical care is a serious issue. There are few health centers, and without means of transportation, most people have to walk miles to receive medical care. There is also a lack of schools here, and those that exist are typically undersupplied and staffed by unqualified teachers. Yet surprisingly, Garos have a higher literacy rate than the general Bangladeshi population.


Schools and Education Education in Bangladesh

While Garos recognize the value of education, few can afford school fees. There also are few schools in this region, including just one high school, with a capacity of 300 students. The government high school in the region has only nine teachers. The two primary schools available to the Garo people lack enough books, trained teachers and adequate facilities.

While the Bangladeshi government works to ensure a primary education for all children, many Garo children must leave school after fifth grade. More than 70 percent of children in this region will never complete high school.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Child development centers in northeastern Bangladesh provide registered children with a place to learn and grow. In communities that lack medical care, adequate schools and even basic resources, the centers provide children with health care and training, as well as tutoring and after-school programs.


Working Through the Local Church

Compassion is the only organization in Bangladesh that works directly in partnership with the church.

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 and hygiene supplies. 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.

How Compassion Works in Bangladesh Compassion in Bangladesh

Compassion's work in Bangladesh began in 2003.

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 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 Garo churches will continue to grow and reach families in their communities.
  • Pray for those struggling with medical issues who have no access to hospitals or clinics.
  • Alcoholism is a growing concern among the Garo. Pray for parents who struggle with this addiction, and for the safety of their children.