By now, you have probably seen some of the heartbreaking images of the collapsed garment factory building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The collapse has left more than 1,030 people dead, and more bodies are still being recovered from the wreckage. Though this is the worst-ever garment industry disaster, similar tragedies are not uncommon in Bangladesh. While some factories meet high standards, many have a poor safety record.
Desperate to overcome their extreme poverty, thousands of girls and young women risk their lives every day working in disastrously unsafe conditions. Girls as young as 10 years old work in garment factories where, in addition to the dangerous working conditions, they are often harshly treated for low pay and long hours. The garment industry is big business in Bangladesh—bringing in $20 billion annually.
Our partner, Oasis Bangladesh, has a heart to serve the people of Duaripara (a slum area of Dhaka) through their Duaripara Family Development Project. Many of the families served by Oasis Bangladesh have members who work in factories much like the one that collapsed. Research carried out by Oasis indicates that many children in the slums are illiterate and have dropped out of school after just two or three years of education. In this environment, girls are extremely vulnerable to abuse, mistreatment, and exploitation. The girls Oasis serves are bright and capable, but family circumstances often do not afford them opportunities to access education or to develop their potential. With your support, these girls have the chance for a different future.
Here’s the story of one family. Nine years ago, Shahin moved his family from the southern part of Bangladesh to Dhaka to pursue a better life. He started a grocery shop. His wife, however, works in a garment factory where she works long hours making clothes that are exported overseas. In 2007, the part of the slum where they were living was demolished, and the family moved to an area near the Oasis Bangladesh ministry center. “My family, especially my daughter, Laizu, was fascinated to see what was happening with the girls and families at the center,” he said. “My wife and I were especially interested in the fact that Oasis would help us to educate Laizu, but there were also the health lessons and savings groups which have been very meaningful for us.”
Because of supporters like you, Laizu and dozens of other girls are accessing education and learning about key issues in adolescence including reproductive and sexual health, early marriage, hygiene, family violence, and the risks of sexually-transmitted diseases. The girls receive more than just knowledge about these issues, they learn they are valuable and loved by God, regardless of where they live.
Laizu’s father went on to say: “Laizu is learning many life skills here at Oasis and is more aware of her personal safety. The family sessions have really helped to improve our family relationships, and the health and hygiene lessons mean we are able to live much more healthfully at home.”
Through an integrated program of education, life skills, health, economic development, and family and community advocacy, Oasis Bangladesh is decreasing the vulnerability of women and girls living in the slums of Dhaka. And this means girls like Laizu won’t follow their mothers into the factories, but instead pursue a path toward a healthy and happy life.
Oasis Bangladesh needs your support. Click here to give today.