Hamad International Airport in Doha, the hub that feels like home, albeit a temporary one, as it connects me to the destinations that I visit the most.
Visiting Muslim Charity’s “School under the Sky” project in Sadarghat, that provides informal education and meals to children living in the streets of Dhaka.
Working with partner organisations in Kamlapur Railway station in Dhaka, to provide reintegration and rehabilitation services to street children and those who’ve run away from home in various parts of the country.
Children arrive every day at Dhaka Airport Railway station, having run away from abuse or being lost or orphaned.
Muslim Charity’s Open Sky School give such children an opportunity to get basic education, a meal and the possibility of being reunited with family or relatives.
Some of the people we are helping are in difficult to reach places. The Manta people living in Char Mantaz (an island on the southern coast of Bangladesh), for example, have to take a 6-hour boat ride to reach the nearest town in the mainland.
We were fortunate to get a ride in a speed boat, which took an hour from Golachipa, Patuakhali.
The hour long boat ride gave us the opportunity to talk to our local partner who is implementing the Manta project; to listen to their experiences, the issues they faced and some of the solutions they came up with.
It also gave us an opportunity to give feedback, advice and discuss potential new projects.
The route from Golachipa to Char Mantaz was amazing, passing some of the most beautiful riverbank scenery I’ve ever seen.
The Manta people have been living on boats for decades, having lost their lands due to river erosion. Now they’re are born, live their lives and sadly die on their boats.
Muslim Charity was involved in lobbying the government to provide land and homes to the Manta people.
We also set up a ‘boat school’ to educate children who cannot go to local schools.
One of the saddest parts of this trip to Bangladesh was visiting Daulatdia, where there is an entire village of prostitutes.
Women end up there for numerous reasons, including trafficking and economic desperation. I was given a tour by our local partner and the thing that really stuck me was how ‘normal’ it was to have men and women standing out in the alley ways negotiating prices, as if they were discussing groceries.
Muslim Charity is working with a local partner, lead by an amazing lady who is working to help the women caught up in this villages.
MC is also finding a daycare centre for babies and young children who are born in the village.We are also exploring ways to help women leave the village and earn a living in other ways.
Cox’s Bazar calling! It was good to be back in Cox’s Bazar after an absence of the couple of years - spent a lot of time here working on Rohingya refugee projects.
Muslim Charity is providing housing, water, counselling and child-friendly spaces.
Talking to the Rohingya people gave us feedback on the work of our partner, as well as ideas for improvements to the services we provide.
One of Muslim Charity’s key projects focuses on rescuing and rehabilitating street children.
We offer a transitional shelter from where we try to locate the children’s families and work to reunite and reintegrate them.But there are some cases where families can’t be located, so we refer the children to more permanent homes, either government owned or privately run. However, in cases severe trauma, such homes are not ideal. This is why MC is supporting a local partner to build a home in beautiful, tranquil surroundings where children will be able to live in peace and harmony.
Railway stations in Dhaka are a magnet for street children and runaways.
Our partners have outreach programmes, with social mobilisers who befriend such children and invite them to shelters where they can wash, rest and get food.
Revisiting a project I’ve been working on with other charities, I was really happy to see families supporting themselves through our ducks-based livelihoods project.
Zakat funds used to novice livelihoods to impoverished families.
Small businesses, set up using Zakat funds, are providing livelihoods to families. This enables them to live dignified lives without having to hold out their hands to anyone.
A children’s home in Sunamgonj where Muslim a charity renovated the plumbing and sewage system.
Visiting some of the areas worst affected by the floods earlier in the year.
Some of these places were not easy to reach, requiring travel by card, CNG and boats.
But seeing the gratitude and happiness on the faces of the people who were helped made the arduous journey worthwhile.
Heartbreaking visit to a home for abandoned babies in Sylhet.
Visiting a pre-primary school and witnessing the great work they do, and the joy in the faces of the children, helped reaffirm our commitment to support such community initiatives.
A long-term care facility for orphans in Dhaka.
Meeting with partners to discuss current projects, issues and future plans.
Meeting potential new partners, especially those led by young people, gives hope for a better Bangladesh.
Exploring new initiates in parts of the country in which Muslim Charity has yet to venture.