In 2010 Compassion partnered with a local church in Ruma, Bangladesh to open a Child Survival Program (CSP). Ruma is a remote village where children and their mothers lack the basic necessities for a healthy life: nutritious food, educational resources and health care. Most of the pregnant mothers, and mothers with very young children, are ignored by their families and often do not receive healthy food, prenatal care or medical treatment. Poverty and ignorance are major reasons for this deprivation.
The Child Survival Program has made a huge difference in the lives of mothers and babies throughout the village of Ruma. In addition to receiving nutritious food, health care, hygiene supplies and parenting classes, mothers are also taught life skills such as sewing. This training increases the women’s confidence, since most have never attended school and are illiterate. Learning to read and write is a new experience for them. They become more aware of childhood diseases and the importance of cleanliness. Lalnun Zir is a mother registered in the program, along with her child Vneih. She says, “I feel valued when I am at the Compassion project. The staff cares a lot about me and my child. Our CSP implementer, Mrs. Ganzi Bawm, is like sister to all the CSP mothers. She tells us about child health, proper diet, mother’s care and cleanliness. I have learned how to sew, and I can use a sewing machine. Now I am aware of my capability. Most important, though, is the fact my child is healthy and getting proper attention and care from the Compassion program.”
Most people in Ruma are from the Bawm tribe, though the village also has members of the Bengali and Marma communities. CSP specialist Ganzi grew up in Ruma and is familiar with the social system of this community; her ability to understand the needs of the mothers is a real advantage. Ganzir builds trust with the mothers very quickly, becoming a great influence in their lives. She also knows all three of their languages, and her linguistic expertise makes her popular among CSP mothers from the different communities. Ganzir shares her experience in Compassion’s Child Survival Program: “I start my day with a combined prayer with CSP mothers. They love to hear stories from the Bible. I teach them about health care, child health, diseases, family planning and many other topics. I have to speak in three different dialects to ensure that everyone understands me properly. When an infant or mother gets sick, I take them to hospital immediately. I always accompany the mothers and babies because they feel secure when I am with them. I visit their houses and inspect the home. Sometimes it is hard for me to arrange everything properly, but at the end of the day I feel satisfied by seeing smiles on the faces of babies and their mothers. They call me sister, and I count them as my family. It’s a blessing to serve these mothers.”
The mothers in the Child Survival Program experience a strong bond of love with one another and are encouraged by the love and care they receive from the program staff. Mothers are happy to see their children getting the opportunity to be part of a program that is life changing. It gives them great hope for their children’s future.
Ganzir and her teammates work hard to support mothers and infants and treat them with great care. Compassion is touching the lives of mothers, who have the most crucial role to play in their children’s lives. By transforming the lives of the babies’ mothers, this program is paving the way for a better childhood for babies born into extreme poverty.