Compassion sponsorship keeps Anowarul, age 8, in school, negating the need to support his family and follow his 11-year-old brother into the workforce.
RANGPUR, Bangladesh It's just before 8 a.m., and Anowarul Islam dons a spotless green shirt and immaculate blue pants. He's ready for school. He must walk about half a mile to the Jogdol Child Sponsorship Program, but still he never misses a day.
At the same time that Anowarul rushes through the frayed bamboo door of his family's one-room mud-brick home, his older brother, Alamene, is also getting dressed. Only the 11-year-old is wearing a uniform stained with grease. He too is off for an education of sorts, going to a motorcycle mechanics shop where he works as an apprentice. And because his farming father makes only about U.S. 50 cents a day, Alamene also cannot miss a day.
An Impossible Choice
What the two brothers wear each day and where they go each morning provides a heartbreaking example of the impossible choices poor families in this rural community face.
"Sometimes we only ate one meal a day and sometimes we were without food," says Muzibur Rahman, the boys' father. "What I make is not enough. That's why Alamene works in the shop. I cannot bear the expenses, so he doesn't go to school. I feel really bad."
One out of five Bangladeshi families has a working child. In lieu of education and childhood, these children work to help their families survive. Most of the toiling youth are in rural families, like that of Anowarul and Alamene's. Usually the child laborers work long hours in farm fields or textile factories.
A Family's Hope
But the brothers' morning readying ritual also illuminates the life-changing benefits sponsorship can provide. And it is because of Compassion's sponsorship that Anowarul and his entire family have hope for a better future.
Muzibur hopes Alamene will learn a trade and get a good job. But he has higher hopes for Anwarul who, at age 8, wants to be a doctor.
"It is very important that I send (Anowarul) to the project," Muzibur says. "They give him the books, food and all of the things that are necessary for an education so he doesn't have to quit."
"I love to study&"
Each day when the second-grader gets home from the Jogdol project, Anowarul changes out of his school uniform, hops onto the family's bed a wooden plank covered with a yellow and green quilt picks up a pencil, sits cross-legged, lights the oil lamp, and reads. Everything he uses for school and to study books, shoes, socks, uniform and even his bed came courtesy of his sponsor.
"I love to sit and study and go to the project each day," Anowarul says. "I love to read English 'cause they have this exam, this scholarship examination. I want to be first on the exam 'cause I want to be a doctor & so I want to learn English to prepare for the exam."
"I see a brighter future for Anowarul," his mother, Haresha, says. "He will study and grow up and help poor people, people like us who do not have money. He will help us as well."