The Ramadan Resolution campaign helped to raise funds for gifts for street children we have worked with over the past 6 years as well as new ones; to say the least, it was both an exciting and humbling experience.
Over the course of two days, myself, Dr Zaki (the project co-ordinator in Bangladesh), our hardworking team and intern Nusrat Ahmed (from Princeton University), mobilised ourselves and distributed in two key areas of Dhaka city - Kamlapur and Kallyanpur.
With your help and generous donations we raised enough to give out over 400 gifts to around 420 street children! Each gift included food, a new set of clothes, a hair comb, educational materials, bag and bar of soap. Items we take for granted but as often requested by these young children who are living and working on the streets of Bangladesh.
The demand, as expected, was high. I felt like we could distribute gifts for a year and we still would have young children left empty handed. It was frustrating as I wish we had more but at the same time, it gave us an idea of how many children were in those locations and lacked basic resources.
There was an air of excitement, joy and bubbles of chitter chatter amongst the children. They beamed as we handed out their gifts one by one. Some were tearful, others hugged in joy and some shyly walked off and shared their gifts with friends who wanted to see what they got. Many wore their new clothes straight away and some who struggled the most, were so overwhelmed that they had no expression on their faces, but walked away a little lighter.
Because of these humble gifts they will not need to work to eat, for a few days, they can finally throw away their torn vest and shorts and wear something fresh, clean, and warm; those knots that drive them crazy can be combed out, and they can feel a little bit more hopeful about their future.
It’s hard sometimes to see the desperation and loneliness in the eyes of these children. Despite being one of the trustees at Restless Beings and having seen many things over the years, it never gets easier.
During these two days, I also met Amina, a young teenager our team met almost two years ago. She was chained to the ground by a ‘stepmother’ who used her as a tool to bring in money and help feed both of them; this was done through prostitution. Amina was now a little older, still chained to the ground. We spent the last two years looking for her so it was heartbreaking, to say the least, to see her again, still in the same condition. This time we will do whatever we can to ensure she isn’t smuggled to another location and we can work towards freeing her and providing her with the necessary counselling and support.
As an organisation we firmly believe in ensuring that whatever we do, our work is not about making young people reliant on international support that give them aid, making them dependant on it and not equipping them with the real life skills they need to take flight and control in their lives. Our work has always been focused on creative nourishment, skills acquisition and education. But mostly on rehabilitation and instilling a sense of autonomy, family and hope. Often the latter is the hardest to achieve, but our annual Eid gift campaign has always gone towards lifting spirits on a day when their loneliness and lack of food, home and love is much more apparent than normal.
So thank YOU to everyone who donated.
Without your support, it would not have been possible to bring these smiles today on the faces of our future.
With all our wishes, all the way from Dhaka Bangladesh,