Ansar Ahmed Ullah:
British MPs from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh and 8 children from Dhaka’s NGO LEEDO Peace Home took part in a fun cricket game on 9 May at Victoria Tower Gardens next to the UK Parliament. It was a unique event umpired by Bangladesh High Commissioner, H. E. Ms. Saida Muna Tasneem. The children won the game scoring 66 /1. The MPs scored 23/3.
After the game, at a reception hosted by Mrs Anne Main MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Bangladesh and Rt Hon Keir Starmer MP in the House of Commons the children’s team called for action so that it is not necessary for children to survive on the streets of Dhaka. The children, who now live in a Peace Home for children who were on the streets, want action to be taken for children who are still surviving on the streets. All children should have a birth certificate and an identity.
“The street is no home for children. Children from the street should have a safe place to stay. Their education is very important. No child should have to beg”, said Jasmine. “Children need shelter, love, education and games,” said Rubel. “There is a need for more organisations like LEEDO Peace Home”, said Sonia. Nizam said, “I want to raise awareness about stopping child labour, early marriage and violence against children.” and Mohammed said, “All children should be supported to grow up so that they can give service to humanity.”
At the reception, the chairperson of Friends of Street Children Bangladesh, Mike Sherriff, said, “We have seen during this tournament the creativity and talent of the children from LEEDO Peace Home, who were once surviving on the streets. Our world, our countries and our cities need this creativity and talent to find solutions to the problems we all face. Friends of Street Children Bangladesh are calling for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child for children surviving on the streets. The British Government, and Non- Government Organisations, when funding work in Bangladesh should give priority to projects that improve the lives of children surviving on the streets. We are calling on the public to also support these projects by volunteering and making donations.”
Forhad Hossain, Executive Director of LEEDO in Bangladesh said, “The Bangladesh Government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in August 1990. They should ensure it is fully implemented for children surviving on the streets because they are one of the most vulnerable and marginal groups in the country. The public in Bangladesh should also recognise that children surviving on the streets have a huge potential to make a positive contribution and should treat all children with dignity and respect.”
According to the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies there are about 1.5 million street children. These children are vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and harassment by the authorities and the public. Most of the children do not have access to education or health facilities. Many are engaged in hazardous work such as collecting and selling items from garbage tips to earn enough money to survive. Often the girls have been abused whilst working as domestic servants.
Most of the children surviving on the streets in Bangladesh are in Dhaka, but there are also children on the streets in other major towns and cities. Many of the children come from outside Dhaka, including rural areas. Some, however, were born in Dhaka and left their family homes. Children leave their families for many reasons including poverty, death of a parent, separation of parents, family disputes, and abuse. Some girls are sent to work as domestic servants, often at a very young age. Many are abused and escape by running away and surviving on the street.