Poor children in northwestern Bangladesh huddle together to sleep in a basket during the winter season
Poor children in Bangladesh’s remote northwestern region now have a ray of hope in their lives thanks to the initiative of a local priest. Father Ignatius Bindu Hembrom, parish priest of the King of Peace Church at Chandpukur in Rajshahi diocese has established a shelter to assist homeless children. “I sleep on a pile of hay with my friends and my parents in a dilapidated polythene-covered house,” five-year-old Dhiren Ekka told ucanews.com. “We actually have no place to live in because a local moneylender grabbed our house when my father failed to pay his debt,” the ethnic Oraon child added. “My parents are day laborers and I also work with them in the fields. Father (Hembrom) met me recently and assured he’ll take me to the mission (parish) and help enroll me in school,” he explained. Ruben Ekka, 10 (not related to Dhiren) has also experienced the bitterness of life. “My poor parents sent me to work at a rich man’s house where they often beat me and left me without food,” he said. “I fled from there and Father Bindu brought me here and gave me new life.” The two boys are among 250 mostly tribal Christian children from various villages in Naogaon district who now benefit from the shelter project. Father Hembrom told ucanews.com that people in the region, especially children, often suffer from various problems that are exacerbated during the cold winters. “Many tribal families lost their ancestral lands after being caught in debt or forced from their land. They have no place to live in and their kids suffer, particularly during winter,” Father Hembrom told ucanews.com. He noted that there are few government facilities in the region because the area is so far from the nation’s capital as well as 50 kilometers away from the nearest major town. Health care is not available in the area. Roads are poor. There are no schools for children. Sometimes robbers attack villagers and snatch their goods and livestock. “We provide food, clothes and education for extremely poor and homeless kids,” Father Hembrom, an ethnic Santal, explained. “Often, we request local NGOs to help poor families with warm clothes and food during winter,” he added. Caritas Rajshahi
and Ashroy (Shelter) are the two NGOs most active in the region. “To live a safe and secure life we need government and NGO support to obtain housing, healthcare, education and communications,” commented Habil Mardi, 38, a day laborer and father of five from the Mahali ethnic group. “Our kids grow up with malnutrition, struggling in everyday life. We just await help from the mission,” lamented Harun Toppo, 34. Related reports Young Catholics give warm clothes to cold-hit poor Caritas helps keep Bangladeshis warm
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...