Bangladesh: Highlights and Lowlights
ONE OF THE POOREST COUNTRIES ON THE ASIAN CONTINENT
Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries on the Asian continent but is now one of the emerging Next Eleven markets. Bangladesh has made great strides in economic growth and prosperity in recent years. The nation’s GDP grew at an average rate of 7.4 percent between 2010 and 2018, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in South Asia. In 2019, Bangladesh was ranked as the 54th most competitive economy on the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. In 2019, the nation’s GDP grew by 8.1 per cent. This impressive performance is largely due to rapid advances in its manufacturing sector and strong government policies focusing on poverty reduction.
These encouraging figures make it clear that Bangladesh is progressing toward becoming an increasingly prosperous economy; however, it still faces numerous social and economic challenges. The United Nations Development Program classifies Bangladesh as a country with medium human development. Conflicts over fertile land and climate change-related migration are leading to an overload of urban infrastructures in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh: Problems Defined for the 7 Pillars of the Needy
CHANGING BANGLADESH ONE PROBLEM AT A TIME
Despite overall economic growth, Bangladesh is projected to face numerous social issues. Bangladesh faces a myriad of social issues, many of which disproportionately affect children and youth. The country also struggles with numerous other problems, including prostitution, drug addiction, homelessness, inadequate prison conditions, a lack of resources for refugees and asylum seekers, inadequate access to quality health care, and the prevalence of various diseases. Additionally, Bangladesh is vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones, which can severely impact the population. Political instability and corruption remain major hurdles for progress within the Bangladeshi government, leading to further economic hardship for its citizens who rely on government support systems that often fail due to mismanagement.
Pillar 1: Children and Youth
- Up to 2 million children are employed in various industries throughout the country despite legal prohibitions against it.
- The country has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with nearly 70% of girls aged between 15-19 being married before reaching adulthood. The country also has high levels of out-of-school children, with 43% of primary school-age children estimated to be not attending classes in 2018.
- Youth unemployment is a major issue in Bangladesh, with over 3 million young people estimated to be unemployed as of 2020.
Pillar 2: Sex Workers
- Bangladesh is home to an estimated 90,000 (estimated 100,000 by 2023) female sex workers that suffer from high levels of exploitation and abuse due to stigma and a lack of legal protection. According to recent estimates, approximately 1,500 brothel villages are scattered throughout Bangladesh. This is a significant increase from the 890 reported in 2016 and reflects the growing demand for sex workers in the country.
- An estimated 800,000 children engage in prostitution.
- Pregnant prostitutes in Bangladesh face significant challenges due to the socio-economic disadvantages associated with their profession.
Pillar 3: Drug Addicts
- According to the 2020 Bangladesh Health Monitoring Report, there are an estimated 2 million drug addicts in Bangladesh. The same report also estimates that there could be up to 5 million drug addicts by the year 2023.
- A survey conducted by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research in 2018 found that around 1.2 million youths aged between 15 and 25 have been using drugs in Bangladesh since 2018.
Pillar 4: Homeless
- There are over 1 million homeless people in the country.
Pillar 5: Prisoners
- Bangladesh has one of the highest prison populations in the world, with an estimated number of over 82,000 incarcerated individuals.
Pillar 6: Refugees
- Over 1 million refugees, most of whom are from Myanmar and have fled due to violence, political instability, and poverty in their homeland.
Pillar 7: The sick
- Bangladesh faces a high burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases, with an estimated 800,000 deaths related to these ailments in 2017 alone.
- It is estimated that by 2023, Bangladesh will face increasing pressures on its health care healthcare to rapid population growth and the burden of existing infectious and non-communicable diseases.
Our discovery of hot spots in Bangladesh really challenged us. We have field research results, witnessed statics, and strategies to create and actualize hope in Bangladesh. We believe that seeing is believing. We have witnessed and communicated at the grassroots level. Our hearts are moved while seeing and talking with the least of society at Daulatdia. Daulatdia is a town with around 1.500 prostitutes and constitutes the biggest brothel in the world.
Words are not enough to describe the suffering and agony these people, including children, go through. Our team could barely stop our eyes from getting wet. The hopelessness and questions in the eyes of women and children tore our hearts. Listening to their stories was like a tour to another universe. These lead us to start two Hope Centers, one in Daulatdia and another in Dhaka.
House of Hope Goal in Bangaldesh
HOPE FOR CHILDREN AND SEX WORKERS
Pillar 1: Children and Youth
- We want to combat child labor in Bangladesh by advocating for the rights of children and providing them with access to education. The
- We want to ensure that all children receive an education so they do not become trapped in a cycle of poverty and exploitation.
- We will increase public awareness about the harms of child labor, as well as create programs that provide economic support for families so that their children can break out of the cycle and gain access to decent employment opportunities.
- We will provide legal assistance for children who have been subjected to child labor exploitation
Pillar 2: Sex Workers
- We want to protect the rights of prostitutes and combat human trafficking in the country.
- We want to provide legal aid and support to victims, increasing awareness about the harms of prostitution and human trafficking, protecting girls from exploitation, offering rehabilitation services, and advocating for a better living environment for sex workers.
- We want to provide assistance to law enforcement authorities so that they can effectively investigate cases involving prostitution and human trafficking.
We aim to strengthen the economic structure of Bangladesh by starting businesses, improving economic opportunities, and initiating education programs to integrate vulnerable groups and people from the seven pillars of the needy into society. We support and advise local and regional governments, raise awareness for social issues, start cooperations, and provide support with subject matter experts. By using our international network, we provide resources and know-how from businesses and entrepreneurs. In addition, we raise funds to support sustainable projects.
Our efforts aim for sustainable help and enable, train, and equip each individual in every country to grow an independent and healthy life. To achieve these goals, we use existing best practices and blueprints to shape them by the environment and culture we find in the country and city.
The Hope Centre at Daulatdia and Dhaka is hope for the unreached. The Hope Center in Daulatdia focuses on ending slavery and prostitution in the biggest brothel in the world. The Hope Center in Dhaka strategically focuses on transforming the city along the seven pillars of the needy and starting projects by uniting aid, relief, help organizations, and churches.
We envision starting a vocational training center for women at Daulatdia. Further, we wish to establish a garment production unit where the trained women can get employment. We are already in the process of starting a daycare center for children of prostitutes. The Hope Centre at Dhaka aims to provide a common working and strategy-making place for like-minded organizations to brainstorm, analyze the context, and create strategies to achieve significant transformation, aiming to transform the entire city into a normal day-to-day life setting (jobs, education, family life, farming, etc.)
House of Hope Strategy in Bangaldesh
HOPE CENTER & BLUEPRINT
At House of Hope, we know that eliminating slavery, poverty, and prostitution are lofty goals. But having watched the incredible progress made by our team in recent years in the Hope Centers in Germany, we feel inspired to do more – one life at a time. Our newly developed blueprint will help us do just that!
We have a blueprint and proven track record for changing the situation for the people in the seven pillars.
We multiply healthy structures (Hope Center) and knowledge (House of Hope Expert Team). We have experts with decades of experience in these areas ready to multiply these Hope Centers; to equip and train people worldwide to tackle the cruelest problems of society.
We do not compete – we complete. Wherever we go, we gather organizations, who are specialized in tackling each specific problem, under one roof, a Hope Center. These Hope Centers are positioned locally within or by hotspots. We orchestrate and coordinate all the parties involved. Thus, HoH fills a need that has existed for years: the formation of strategic alliances and synergies for help, aid and relief organizations. We conduct a gap analysis in problem areas and fill it in with expertise by providing training, mentoring, and raising funds. We also fill gaps by using our existing partners and experts through our worldwide network and through companies we address to bring in resources, know-how, and business solutions.
We have a proven track record with 36 help organizations working together in Frankfurt a.M., Germany, in one of the largest epicenters of human trafficking, prostitution, and drugs in Europe.
Hope in Action
HOPE PILOTS STARTED
Pilot I: Hope Centre Daulatdia with a focus on Prostitutes, Children & Youth
To start Hope Centre at one of the brothel villages called Daulatdia. The Hope Centre at Daulatdia will reach out to prostitutes, pregnant prostitutes, and their children for health, education, employment, counseling, and play group for prostitute children.
The Hope Center team will train and equip prostitutes for employment. The Hope Center will build and establish a garment production unit absorbing these trained and skilled workers.
We have a partnership and understanding with the landlord of the brothel village for women’s empowerment, health, and education projects. The entire village is owned by one woman.
Pilot II: Hope Centre Dhaka
We are starting a National Hope Centre in Dhaka to provide a platform for like-minded NOGs to work in unity, collaborate, coordinate, develop strategy, and execute projects in Dhaka and in Bangladesh.
- In the first quarter of 2023, we met 47 local NGO leaders. We listen and learn their perspective on the current grass root scenario of Bangladesh’s social challenges of children & youth, prostitutes, drug addicts, homeless, prisoners, refugees, and health. Further, we shared our research and field experience.
- Now, we have a team of national, regional, and local staff and volunteers.
HOUSE OF HOPE PICTURES TAKEN ON OUR EXPERT TOUR
Impressions from Bangladesh
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CHANGING LIVES TOGETHER
SPARKASSE GÖTTINGEN, GERMANY
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