Laily and her friend collecting oysters.
Laily lives in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Poverty is rife in this country and UNICEF estimate that over 5 million Bangladeshi children aged 5-14 work to support their families or themselves. Since Laily’s father was taken ill with a critical disease he was no longer able to support her and her sister and brother. Her mother felt helpless and moved to Cox’s Bazar to find a job.
She thought she would have more chance here as it is a popular tourist area, but she found nothing and ended up making small amounts of cash by making oyster wreaths and selling them in the market. In order to make these she sent Laily out to collect leaves and oysters from the beach.
One day staff from one of the Learning Centres supported by Children on the Edge came to Laily’s house and talked with her mother. They said that she could come and learn at the Centre in the afternoons with no charge, be given free school materials and still have time left in the day to help her mother.
Laily started almost straight away. She said at first she was afraid about studying but now she loves it much more than collecting oysters! She describes how every day she prepares homework and goes to school. Here she is given snacks, has time with friends, receives care from the teachers and focuses on what she terms as ‘joyful study’. When she grows up she is hoping to use what she’s learnt to start a career in customer services.
Children on the Edge support three Learning centres in the Cox’s Bazar area, enabling 300 young workers to receive an education for two to three hours a day. Here they receive a nutritious meal, attend lessons, freshen up with a wash and have the chance to play and rest with their friends.
Of course we don't believe children should have to work, but with the levels of poverty being so severe families have little choice. Sometimes the money earned by these children is the only income they will see. With our Learning Centres children can help their families without entirely missing out on their education. Our aim is to give those children a few hours each day where they can focus on being a 'child' again; to play and learn without the harsh pressures of outside life.
Find out more about our work in Bangladesh and donate to our projects.