A Bangladeshi child runs through a paddy field (Catholic Relief Services www.crs.org)
Bangladeshi Christian immigrants are maintaining links with the old country and helping a good cause by sponsoring the education of poor students in Khulna diocese
The education sponsorship program, funded by Bangladeshi Catholic families in the US, has been running for three years and has provided 50 Catholic students from various parishes in the southern diocese with the funds they need to continue their education and keep their dreams alive.
Each family sponsors one student by donating US$15 on a monthly basis.
The families of the students say the program has been a godsend.
“I’m so grateful. My father died a few years back and it was quite impossible for my mother to provide for my education and my two sisters,” said Shormi Carmel Biswas, 20, a first year accounting student at Michael Modhusudon College in Jessoret.
“Without this help my education would have stopped and my career aspirations would have died,” she said.
Shanti Sardar, 45, said the sponsorship has lifted a tremendous burden on her family.
“My husband is a shoemaker and we’ve nothing much except for our home. We live hand to mouth and struggle to provide daily meals for seven family members. It was impossible for us to send our son Jasim to college for a good education,” she said.
“Our son is very bright but we wouldn’t be able to afford to pay for his education if it wasn’t for the generosity of these overseas families,” the villager from Baradal parish in Satkhira district added.
The success of the program, which is run with Khulna diocese’s help, has prompted its director to increase the number of students receiving sponsorship.
The number of beneficiaries was raised to sixty this month, said Robert Gomes.
“Our roots are in Bangladesh because we were born and educated here,” said 70-year-old Gomez, who now calls New Jersey his home.
“The families in the States all wanted to do something for our country and countrymen,” he said while on a recent holiday to visit relatives.
Oblate Bishop Bejoy D’Cruze of Khulna
says he has nothing but praise for the program.
“Thanks to these donations a number of poor but brilliant students are not drop-outs. I’m really grateful to them and appreciate their generosity,” the prelate said.
“A Catholic college boy called Jony came to me for help regarding his education. I recommended him for sponsorship and now he is studying engineering in Khulna,” he added.