Many of us can only dream of growing up to compete in the World Cup. For eight children supported by our partner Local Education and Economic Development Organization (LEEDO), that dream just became a reality.
We met Jesmin Akter, Sopna Akter Sumi, Sania Mirza, Arzu Rahman, Rasel Islam, Md. Nizam, Abul Kashem, and Md. Rubel at LEEDO’s Peace Home on April 29. The same night, the group of 14- to 17-year-olds flew to the United Kingdom to play in the first-ever Street Child Cricket World Cup.
Competing against nine other teams from across Europe, Africa, and Asia, the Bangladeshi youth made it all the way to the semifinals, placing fourth in the tournament overall.
On their trip, they did more than just play cricket. They also saw the sights of Cambridge, gave interviews to the press, and helped raise international awareness about the needs and rights of children who have been separated from their families.
They spread the message that all children – regardless of their background – deserve peace, love, safety, and the opportunity to reach their full potential.
“When they come back to Bangladesh, they will be part of a special group, and they will be advocates for the other kids who are still living on the street,” LEEDO’s Executive Director Forhad Hossain said about the team members.
We’re even more inspired by these young leaders when we learn about their strength and the obstacles they’ve already overcome.
The eight girls and boys who competed in the World Cup were themselves separated from their families and lived on the streets of Dhaka before they arrived at Peace Home. Many survived dangerous jobs, exploitation, and abuse during the time when they didn’t have a home.
The LEEDO staff who made contact with the children – at railway stations and in other areas of the country’s capital – immediately provided them with safe lodging, meals, clothing, and medical treatment at a temporary shelter, called Setu Bandhan. They worked to locate the children’s parents or relatives. When those attempts failed, the children found a permanent home with LEEDO.
They joined a new family at Peace Home. It’s the first comprehensive, long-term home in Dhaka specifically built for kids who used to live on the street, and it now serves more than 50 children.
At Peace Home, an adult “mother” and “father” live with and care for the children around the clock. Kids of all ages and abilities have the chance to attend formal school, play, learn new skills like dance and sports, and pursue a future full of new opportunities.
Peace Home is also expanding. The team is adding more space and new facilities, including a new playground, to the building. Next year, they aim to provide a home to 100 children – nearly twice as many as live there now.
And Peace Home is only one piece of LEEDO’s work. The community-based organization provides free, weekly classes to children in local parks through its School Under the Sky. Its Mobile Schools travel to the locations where children are most in need, engaging them through educational games and activities. It also provides financial support for children and families who have been reunited, helping them pay for safe housing and keep the kids in school.
“GFC is helping us to run School Under the Sky in Kamalapur Railway Station and also run our Mobile School once a week. Through this Mobile School last year, we reached more than 5,000 children. It’s definitely very important work that GFC’s helping,” Forhad said.
LEEDO is one of six organizations that GFC supports in partnership with WE Trust, as part of its initiative to address the needs of children in hazardous and exploitive labor conditions in Bangladesh.
We provide organizational strengthening, capacity development, and flexible funding to these partners, supporting their programs to prevent dangerous work, provide education, and create new opportunities for children in the most challenging circumstances.
Learn more about our six local partners and their vision for a future free of hazardous child labor in Bangladesh.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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