A boy’s journey from the streets to security
About 400,000 children work or live on the streets of Bangladesh, where they are vulnerable to abuse and are oftentimes deprived of education and healthcare.
Plan Bangladesh supports drop-in centers around the capital of Dhaka to help these children build better lives. Bahar is one teenager who worked his way up from the streets into a life of security and stability.
Desperation in the city
When Bahar’s father – the breadwinner for a family of 6 – passed away, his mother began working as a maid to support the family. Bahar left grade 3 to work as a farmhand. However, his earnings were meager, so at 16, he moved to Dhaka where he worked odd jobs and slept on the streets.
“The mosquitoes ate me alive. The police sometimes did not let me sleep on the sidewalk. The drug addicts who roamed the streets at night also found pleasure in beating me up.”
Clean, safe center
One day, he met someone from the Plan-supported Street Children Project, and was taken to a drop-in center for children living on the street.
“I forgot when I had taken my last shower. Someone at the drop-in center gave me soap to wash myself, and I felt so good afterwards that I slept for a long time. I could sleep in peace without the mosquitoes and on a nice clean bed.”
Comfortable and surrounded by children his age, he began spending nights there and joining literacy classes, counseling sessions and vocational trainings.
Climbing the labor ladder
Still, Bahar grabbed whatever work he could find to support his family – at a hotel as a service boy, and then with a municipal garbage truck, earning $0.70 a day.
He eventually began working at a furniture shop, where he earned $35 a month. He moved on and up to a well-known Bangladeshi company, making $55 per month – almost tripling his earnings in less than 2 years time.
“Just the start of my journey”
Now 18, Bahar sends money home. He has moved out of the shelter and rents a house with colleagues, but he keeps in touch with the drop-in center staff. “This is just the start of my journey. I still need the guidance of the drop-in center to make my way forward.”
Launched in 2002, the Street Child Project in 2011 supported 13 drop-in centers, each of which assists about 80 children per day.
Learn more about Plan's work in Bangladesh.