In Southwestern 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.
- Most Bengalis in southwestern Bangladesh and near the capital city of Dhaka live in small villages. Bangladesh has only six large cities but more than 80,000 villages.
- The Bengali people depend completely on agriculture for subsistence, which makes times of drought or flooding particularly devastating. Most Bengali villages have rice paddy fields as well as fruit groves.
- Bangladesh is widely recognized as one of the countries most susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change.
In rural southwestern villages, people earn a meager living through agricultural work. Rice is the most commonly grown crop.
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.
Because of the prevalence of drought, farmlands are often overcultivated in attempt to quickly produce cash crops.
Some families supplement their earnings through cottage industries such as weaving.
Children at Home
Children in Bangladesh’s southwestern region grow up in crowded homes with an average of seven to 10 people under one roof.
Village homes are made of bamboo, tin, mud or straw, and measure about 10 feet by 12 feet.
Both in rural villages and Dhaka’s slums, homes lack basic services such as sanitation and electricity. Families use lanterns for light and small fires to cook their meals.
Issues and Concerns
- Bengalis have long dealt with natural disasters.
- Cyclones regularly destroy crops and homes, and seasonal floods also plague the region.
- During monsoon season, the rivers overflow and submerge low-lying areas.
- Bengali families often rebuild their homes, only to watch them be destroyed by flooding a few months later.
Local Needs and Challenges
Electricity & Sanitation
Families in Bangladesh’s southwestern villages and Dhaka’s slums lack adequate housing and such basics as electricity and sanitation.
Access to safe water is hard to come by, causing frequent, life-threatening illness among children.
Dhaka’s at-risk children also face abuse and exploitation. Safe shelter and security is a foremost need for the children of the city slums.
Schools and Education
- Lack of education is a major issue among the Bengali.
- Only about 41 percent of the people can read or write. Most children in this region drop out of school by age 7.
- Many families are so desperately poor that they must send their children to work before they are 10 years old.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
In partnership with local worship centers, Compassion is bringing help and hope to impoverished children in southwestern Bangladesh.
To combat malnutrition, children receive nutritious meals at their Compassion centers.
They also 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.
Parents, especially mothers whose husbands are absent, are also provided training in such income-generating skills as tailoring, growing vegetables and raising cattle or poultry. With these skills, they are better able to care for themselves and their children.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local worship centers, Compassion is bringing help and hope to children in need in southwestern 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 value as God’s children