Life for children in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh is hard. The majority of them live in one-roomed, temporary structures made from whatever materials can be found in the area – bamboo, hessian sacks, polythene sheets and tin sheets. Families cook outside in the narrow lanes that run between their houses, and at least 40 families will share one toilet that is poorly maintained. In these cramped conditions, there isn't much space for children to learn and play in safety. That's why ActionAid's child safe spaces in Bangladesh are so important.
Jesmin (11) and Feroz (12) are both sponsored children with ActionAid, who live with their families in Dhaka's slums. As well as going to school, the children are expected to help their parents with chores such as looking after the younger children of the family or fetching water from a communal tap.
But, like all children, they love spending time playing with their friends.
“I love to play board games with my friends but the only space at home is on the bed, which takes up most of our living space," Jesmin explains. "This is also where I have to do my homework.”
Feroz adds: “I love flying kites but the only space I can do this is alongside the railway line, which is very dangerous. There is no other place we can go for fun apart from the ActionAid child space.”
Providing a safe place to play
Through funding from child sponsorship, ActionAid has created 13 child spaces. These spaces give over 1,000 children like Jesmin and Feroz safe places to play and learn away from the dangers of the slums. These spaces are full of colour; the walls are festooned with drawings by the children and educational posters raising awareness on issues such as early marriage and child labour.
I love flying kites but the only space I can do this is alongside the railway line, which is very dangerous.
Here, the children can sing, play, dance, draw and paint with their friends in a happy and joyful environment. Last year, each of the child spaces published magazines produced by the children. They contained poems, short stories, jokes and drawings all created and chosen by the children themselves.
Child spaces help children go to school
The child spaces also help parents and children learn about the importance of education. More and more parents are sending their children here, where they receive pre-school education for a year before being supported to enrol in primary school.
Jesmin told us: “My parents were not interested in sending me to school as they thought study requires a lot of money. But the facilitator at our child space helped my parents realise the importance of education and agreed to send me to school. ActionAid helped me fulfil my dream of studying.”
Can you help provide more safe spaces?
The opportunities children like Jesmin and Feroz gain from the child spaces would not be possible without ActionAid and our fantastic child sponsors.
ActionAid helped me fulfil my dream of studying.
Sponsorship helps support children and their communities in so many ways. So if you don’t already sponsor a child with ActionAid – what are you waiting for? We currently have over 100 children waiting to be sponsored in Bangladesh. For just 65p a day you can make such a difference to a child’s life. Please sponsor a child today.
Photo credits: ActionAid