Bangladesh: What sponsorship is achieving in these communities

By Shirantha, Senior Portfolio Advisor - Bangladesh

This was my first visit to World Vision in Bangladesh to see some of the program activities that I had heard so much about. In my previous role as a sponsorship promoter, I used to narrate stories in shopping centres and door-to-door about the difference that World Vision was making in the field. Witnessing that difference was the main purpose of my visit.

As you are a generous sponsor of a child in Bangladesh, I would like to tell you about what I saw and learned when I visited the Mirpur Urban project in Dhaka.

I had heard that World Vision’s program in the communities within the Mirpur Urban project of Bangladesh was making a difference on the ground – so on the second day of my trip I was taken to two of the poorer areas.

These communities are made up of mostly unsettled people who have migrated to the city. When World Vision started working there in 2012, it was a place with waste everywhere. The issues included open defecation around houses, women being compelled to wait until evening due to a lack of toilets (with little privacy), and diarrhoea spread quite quickly. These families lived well below the poverty line, with less than US$1 a day.

In contrast, during my visit it was totally a different picture! What I saw with my own eyes was a clean and tidy community without open defecation, and there were happy kids playing. World Vision’s partnership with another organisation, Habitat for Humanity, meant that the poorer communities of the Mirpur Urban project were provided with clean paved walking paths in between little, but well-kept houses.


Meeting the community members where sponsorship is making a difference

While walking around the community, I engaged with the people who had been participating in their own development and taking ownership of the water and sanitation facilities’ building process alongside World Vision. The most impressive part of my visit was meeting the men and women who had formed an independent committee that partner with World Vision in managing most of the activities of the project. This committee is responsible to ensure that the community is kept clean and tidy, while monitoring the cleanliness of the toilets and shower cubicles that were built by World Vision because of the Child Sponsorship program.

“I did not use toilets for 14 years, but now because of World Vision, I am able to use a clean toilet,” a community member from the Mirpur Urban project told me that day.

But it wasn’t just the adults who were taking part in the community’s development and improvement – the children were too.

In the second community, I met a group of children (some were sponsored, others had sponsored siblings) who said they participated in a World Vision Child Forum. A Child Forum is a committee made of children of the community where they can engage, participate, express their opinion, contribute to decision making and learn about child rights and their wellbeing. Because these children had been part of the forum, they are able to confidently share what they want to achieve for themselves and for the future of their community.

Helping children who were engaged in child labour

I spoke to a very active Child Forum member, Anamika, who was 16-year-old. She started to earn money for her family by cleaning other people’s houses when she was merely seven years old, which meant she missed out on school. But because of World Vision’s non-formal learning program she is now studying in grade nine in the commerce stream.

After Anamika attended a World Vision skills training course in sewing and embroidery for two months, she continues to work with her mother after school but saves her earnings for her future now. She loves dancing and acting and her dream is to become a banker.

Throughout my visit I witnessed smiles and laughter. Child sponsorship is making a big difference in children’s lives, and the lives of men and women of the communities of the Mirpur Urban project because of the generous hearts of amazing supporters like you!