Street Play With Pothoshishu

Posted by: on Mar 30, 2019 | No Comments

Today I joined Pothoshishu on their street play session with the children at Sadarghat, the main ferry terminal in Dhaka.

Hazera aged 9 lives with her mother on the streets

Pothoshishu are an organisation we have been supporting since 2012 that run regular play sessions at various locations throughout Dhaka where there are big communities living on the streets including families, orphans and runaways. Once a week these children take a break from their work or begging to step onto the Pothoshishu mat and be children for a few hours. Whilst they play, draw, relax, the volunteers talk to the children find out their situation, clean their wounds, give them medication and just be with them and love them as children should be loved.

Talking to the children I found out many were born at the terminal and that’s the only home they have known. They sleep on the terminal floor and it even their parents and their parents were born there. It seems some families are trapped in the terminal and have lived there for a few generations. They’ve never known living in a proper home.

Speaking to their mothers, it seems they are resigned to the fact that they’ll be there forever, with no dreams or aspirations of ever getting a roof over heads.

Riad aged 4

The government have centres around the terminal which provide three meals a day for the children and facilities for them to wash. If they wish, they are able to help the children enrol into school. The problem is that the parents need the income from the children and are reluctant to allow them to go to school. There is no desire amongst this group to improve or to move on.

One mother became quite animated when I asked her why she didn’t allow her child to go to the centre for food or enrol him into school. She herself has been brought up on the streets. She claimed the centre was there to drug and steal children for their eyes and their kidneys. She clearly didn’t trust the Government and said “I would rather die free then be trapped in the system where my body parts will get sold off to help rich people”.

Shahejalal, an orphan aged 15

As is usual in Bangladesh, we had a crowd of people gathered around us during this conversation who all agreed with her. It is so sad how apathetic these children are and how they are resigned to their fate. Looking around at these kids some orphaned or accompanied by their parents, they are all ragged with dirty clothes, no shoes, blisters and cuts, but somehow accepting their circumstances.

What do you do when the children and their parents mistrust the system so much? They have been let down by the system and would rather live with nothing, begging, stealing and borrowing, rather than utilise the little help that is available to improve their lives.

This is something we are trying to address by supported projects such as Pothoshishu. In today’s session the children were asked to draw pictures of themselves with their best friends doing a happy activity together.

Khadija aged 8 lives with her family at the terminal

The childrens’ ages ranged from 3 to 15. Some struggled to hold a pencil properly and most struggled to even draw a circle freely. Their hand movements were rigid and concentration tense. That they couldn’t draw a circle freely, or had limited imagination was so sad. Is it an indication of missed childhood, of having to grow up fast as you can’t afford to be a true child when you are living on the street.

These children deserve so much better. Please help us to help them. You can donate here:

 

 

 

 

Habit, an orphan aged 10

Sonia, a runaway aged 15

Rihan, an orphan aged 12

Kushi aged 10

Rubel aged 6

Faisal aged 9

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