By Atul Mrong, Regional Field Director, World Vision Bangladesh
My name is Atul Mrong and I am World Vision’s Regional Field Director for the northern part of Bangladesh. I was also a sponsored child.
I was born on 23 February 1977, the only son in a family of seven children. My parents were farmers, but did not have their own land.
There was no pre-school education at that time and I started primary school in my own village in grade one in 1983. I became a sponsored child when I studied in grade 3/4 in 1985/86. I really enjoyed being a sponsored child. It gave me the ability to continue my studies with ease. I was the sixth child out of seven and none of my elder sisters could study due to our financial situation and the lack of awareness about the importance of education. My sponsors really gave me light to study and change my life. I thank them for their support.
Encouraged to study
I was the only one in my family sponsored and at the time I remember my parents always telling me I have the chance to study, so do it well. The monitoring from the staff at World Vision Bangladesh encouraged me to study which helped me reach a good level in school.
I used to get at least one or two cards annually with some letters and a lot of photos from my sponsor and the cards were of animals like kangaroos and koalas. As I was the only boy out of seven children I was very loved by my parents and could be demanding and naughty sometimes. The children’s seminars, meetings and workshops that World Vision Bangladesh ran really changed my life and educated me on good morals and behaviours.
I went to an urban high school in 1992-94, then to the capital Dhaka to complete my Secondary School Certificate. I remember being sponsored until around that time as I was helped with tuition fees, book costs, exam fees, etc.
Serving the most vulnerable
I then went to a seminary to prepare myself to become a priest and completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1998. I received a stipend to help with my costs. The teaching from the seminary really changed my ways of thinking and my lifestyle as well. I ended up not being able to become a priest though as I needed to take care of my parents. They didn’t have land at that time and they were not seen as a part of their community because they were so poor. Thankfully the condition has now changed thanks to World Vision and generous sponsors like you.
I started my work at World Vision Bangladesh in June 2004 and since then I have joyfully worked serving the most vulnerable people as I was also from that vulnerable community. I understood clearly how World Vision worked for vulnerable children in education at that time and thus, from that moment, I had the will to work in this area.