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Health and Happiness

Ensuring Better Life

Cities in Bangladesh are overcrowded with dense slums, squatter settlements and pavement dwellings, each home to thousands of children. Increasing rural poverty and corresponding urban migration continue to swell the numbers of people living in urban slums and on the streets. Problems of rural unemployment, landlessness, river erosion, natural disaster, family conflict and weak law and order because rural families to leave their homes in search of better prospects in the urban centers. This movement contributes to the disintegration of traditional family and community structures and results in an increasing number of children being exposed to deprivation and abuse in urban areas.

Children living on the slums are particularly vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Even when these children live with their families, poverty and a lack of services means that most parents are not in a position to provide appropriate care. Children grow up on the margins of society without appropriate accommodation, protection, education, health care, food, drinking water, security, recreation and guidance. These children also endure increased risks to their safety and well-being. Many of them work, often in hazardous and low-waged jobs, to support themselves and their families. Unequal distribution of resources, low family incomes and unemployment of parents and guardians means that many families depend on their children's earnings to survive. Across Bangladesh, children contribute, on average, between 20 and 30 per cent of the family income. Girls and boys who work do not have access to healthcare and become trapped in a cycle of low-skilled, low-income employment that further pushes them into the vicious cycle of intergenerational poverty. Children who live on the street are also vulnerable to other forms of exploitation and frequently find themselves the victims of sexual abuse and at risk of HIV/AIDS infection, physical torture, and trafficking. Extensive criminal networks make substantial profits by engaging children in commercial sex work, smuggling, stealing, and the distribution of drugs and weapons. Without appropriate care and continually struggling to survive, many children have no other option.

Psycho-social problems Following the hardship and abuse of life on the streets, many children suffer trauma and psycho-social disorders. Because of their distressing experiences, they often become diffident and distrustful, making it difficult for service providers to help them. Marginalization and criminalization Children living on the streets are often abused or oppressed by police, who frequently beat them, ask for bribes, take away their valuables and implicate them in false charges. Ordinary members of society stigmatize these children, which further isolates them from the general community. Children living on the streets are regularly arrested for vagrancy. The age of criminal responsibility is nine, which means that children are often sentenced to terms in prison or in child development centers (correction centers). Three out of five children in the urban slums are deprived of healthcare. They can’t access due to lack of information, education, resources and finance. Mostly they end up with traditional healer which often leading them to fatal health issues as well as death. AMAL is filling the gap by supporting the children of slums and remote areas with health campaigns where we give them free health check up, medicines, nutrition charts of affordable foods, counseling, hygiene packs and so on.

However, Psycho-social problems Following the hardship and abuse of life on the streets, many children suffer trauma and psycho-social disorders. Because of their distressing experiences, they often become diffident and distrustful, making it difficult for service providers to help them. As well as criminal networks make substantial profits by engaging children in commercial sex work, smuggling, stealing, and the distribution of drugs and weapons. Therefore, we emphasize on the mental healthcare of these marginalized children. Under this program we have developed a psycho-social curriculum with the scientists of icdd,rb and University of Dhaka , Psychology department and so on.

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