Apasen International was proud to announce this week that it has started providing its first free health and education services in Bangladesh to poor families with children with severe learning disabilities, autism, and other special needs.
Working with the highly respected BRAC, they are opening local day care centres in the heart of poor communities in slums and villages. Local staff has identified hundreds of vulnerable children who the community label ‘mad’ that are isolated, at risk, and denied their basic rights to reach their full potential.
Helal Rahman, Chairman of Apasen International, explained the initiative:
“We are contributing training and resources to BRAC for two new day care centres in Korail slum and Kapazia in Dhaka Division. These centres provide a free service six days a week for the poorest households who are struggling to meet the complex needs of their loved ones. We are extremely proud to be launching these services with BRAC as our partner.”
The centres act as both a community school and health care facility and have links to specialist hospital units. The children receive comprehensive support from female teachers, therapists, and care assistants. Within a matter of weeks, the children make rapid improvements in their behaviour and abilities. They make friends and have fun. Their families are supported with counselling and training and have more time for earning income.
The children are at a crucial stage in their development where access to community based education and regular speech and physiotherapy can transform their lives and make an enormous difference to their life chances.
Apasen is working hard to open another centre in Ghashitula, Sylhet Town where at least 100 poor children have been identified as urgently in need of support.
Mahmud Hasan, Chief Executive of Apasen International, explained how this is just the start of the project:
“We are raising funds to establish more of these centres across Bangladesh but particularly in Sylhet Division where our research has shown there is a real urgent need for assistance. We hope to raise at least £100,000 to fund up to five centres for up to two years. Just £20 pays for one month of day care for a special child.”
The project has attracted wide support from both UK and Bangladesh Government departments and parliamentarians. The press conference was attended by influential supporters including Jim Fitzpatrick MP for Poplar and Limehouse, Vice-Chair for the All Party Parliamentary Group for Bangladesh and Baroness Uddin.
Apasen International draws on the considerable expertise of its sister organisation, Apasen – previously known as Apasenth. It is one of the UK’s biggest British Bangladeshi charities with more than thirty years’ experience in the health and social care sector for people with learning disabilities, autism, and other special needs – particularly in Tower Hamlets.
Helal Rahman, Chairperson of Apasen International, explained why he is so passionate about helping children with learning disabilities in Bangladesh:
“In the UK, we recognise that disability exists in our society and we value people as they are. In Bangladesh, there is much less awareness. People with disabilities are ignored and often seen as a problem. Apasen International’s new project not only raises awareness of the rights and needs of people with learning disabilities but also provides urgently needed services to poor families who are completely without help for their care needs.”