On Universal Children’s Day, we bought scrumptious meals for 4 street children, took them shopping and to an amusement park — all the while having a “long term goal” for them in mind.
During our fun-filled moments, we discussed moral values with them through stories (like, not lying/not stealing etc) because they were very receptive to our ideas then. Also, we highlighted the importance of education to them. We’ve already decided to finance the education of one the brightest kids of the group.
The report from the Actioneers is following:
Project- UCD: Smile! :)
Team members: Maher Hasan Khan, Saima Islam, Sharmishtha Sonalika.
Date of the event: 11th November, 2010.
We came up with an idea to put smile on three street children’s face on the Universal Children’s Day, with a budget of about taka 2000. We hoped to give them a day full of fun and excitement. And we did.
At 01:30 pm, we arrived at Dhanmondi Lake beside the 7/A road. We were looking for three street kids there. After a search of about an hour, we finally managed to get, not three, but FOUR of them! – Shohag, Khokon, Shahbuddin, and Hira. At the first acquaintance, we asked them their names, and tried to relax them a bit since we were total strangers to them. We told them what day it was and that we were going to do something fun. In the beginning they were not that happy at the prospect of leaving their work for a day and go for some fun, which meant they had to miss a whole day’s salary. When we said that we would pay them the equal amount of their wage, they felt happy at once. If you could only see their lit face when they listened to our plan for the whole day ahead…
We sat around a table together and spent about 15 minutes noting down their whereabouts, families, works, studies, and so on, the description of which you will find in the latter part of this report.
Our little trips:
The three of us held their little hands firmly and guided them onto the road. We called out for rickshaws. With big smiles on their faces, the kids were also helping us find some.
When we got two of them, Saima and Sharmishtha got onto one with Shohag, whom we found unbelievably naïve and full of good wills; while, Maher got onto the other with Khokon, Shahbuddin and Hira. We all headed to New Market.
On the way, the three kids with Maher were singing to their heart’s content. It seemed they had entered a world of euphoria. Saima and Sharmishtha chatted on with Shohag, and came to know more about his personal and family life.
When we reached Dhaka College, we had to stop owing to the incessant traffic, and got down. We paid the fares and, once again, guided the kids across the street where there were many street-side clothing shops.
First, we decided to buy the children bottoms. After finding a shop with reasonably priced clothes, we asked the four children to choose their own pieces.
Walking a metre or two ahead, we bought them t-shirts. This is where the kids kept on changing their choices, since there were so many colourful ones.
In the meantime, an old lady in ragged sari came to us, an eight-month old baby clinging onto her shoulder. She requested, “Ma, amar ei Dukhu Mia re o akta kina dan na.”
Saima spoke out, “Why is his name Dukhu? Why should he be sad? Change it to Shukhu Mia!” To our amazement, the old lady instantly changed her son’s name. Apart from buying Shohag, Khokon, Shahbuddin and Hira t-shirts, we bought Shukhu Mia one too.
We started walking again. On the way, we thought of changing the kids into their new clothes. Maher took the children to a local washroom, where they cleaned themselves and happily wore the new outfit. When they came out, it was hard to believe they are street children. The fun part was that three of them wore the same t-shirts while two of them wore the same bottoms!
Dressed in new attires, the kids kept walking with us. They chit-chatted, made jokes, and laughed heartily. On reaching the foot of the bridge, we found colourful sandals. Again, the kids chose their own sandals, and they each got a pair.
Now that we were done with their shopping, it was clear on their expressions that they were hungry. So were we!
We searched down a small road-side restaurant, where we relaxed around a table. The customers nearby were smiling at the four kids. We ordered for a plate of “Morog Polao” and soft drinks for each of the four kids and also for us.
We all ate together. The manager gleefully agreed to take a few shots of us while we ate.
It was like finding the solace of our heart when we watched them eating with excitement.
At one point, Shohag said, “Ei vabe jiboneo hotel e khainai. Khub moja lagse.”
With stomachs full, it was time for our last trip. Our next stop was the Toggy World on the top floor of Bashundhara City in Panthapath.
Taking two rickshaws, we headed for Toggy World. When we reached Bashundhara City, the children were absolutely stunned. They told us that they had never visited such a shopping mall. They were more astonished when we informed them that it was the largest shopping mall in South Asia. They were in awe.
It was utterly surprising when the four kids stepped onto the escalator without any difficulty. They were pointing at large televisions, capsule lift, clothing shops, and so on every now and then.
After reaching the top floor, we bought tickets. When we entered, Khokon, Shohag, Shahbuddin and Hira instantly wanted to take this and that ride.
We took the roller-coaster first. They were eager to rake other rides as well. Then we took a short stroll around the Toggy World, after which they rode the Merry-Go-Round. They spent about 30 minutes laughing and jumping and climbing in the playground at the corner of the Toggy World.
When it was 15 minutes to seven, we decided to return to where we started from. This time, we took the capsule lift to give the kids a larger view of the mall.
It was almost 07:15 pm when we reached Dhanmondi Lake by rickshaws. We gathered around a table and sat down. There, we divided several elementary books among them. They looked quite enthusiastic while flipping through the pages. Two of the kids- Khokon and Shahbuddin studies at a public school on grade 2 and 3 and both of them can read Bangla quite well and little bit of English too! We have a long-term plan for Shohag who seems very eager at studying and has the potential for greatness but lacks the financial means. More about our team’s plans for Shohag is discussed later in the report.
Finally, when it was nearly time for them to go, we gave each of them taka 50 as we promised at the beginning. With that, we bid them goodbye. They all said, “Jaia ee age amma re komu!”
We watched them return with big smiles on them.
A briefing about our expenditure:
We made an estimation of taka 2000 as our budget. In spite of ending up with four children instead of three, no financial problem had to be faced.
Moreover, we had around taka 400 saved. The money spent on food and drinks for the volunteers are not counted in our total expenditure.
Below is a list of our spending:
175 tk (t-shirts, including Shukhu Mia)
200 tk (bottoms)
100 tk (sandals)
320 tk (food, for children only)
60tk (drinks, for children only)
20 tk (water)
500 tk (Toggy World)
280 tk (fares)
A total of taka 1655 was spent for the children.