Home to Bangladesh’s earliest urban archaeological site, the famous Mahasthangarh citadel, the town of Bogra is one of the oldest in Northern Bangladesh. Its rich history dates as far back as Great Emperor Ashoka’s India and the town boasts of a thriving industrial past. Despite some very recent infrastructural development, people in the Bogra region face real economic hardships every day.
Bogra is situated on the banks of the river Karatoya, making it central to transportation, commerce and trade in the region. The Bogra district is also known for its ancient Behular Bashor Ghar and Jaina temples, which attract tourists from all over Bangladesh and beyond all year round.
Bogra was the setting of the Battle of Bogra, a crucial operation in Bangladesh’s War of Independence in 1971. When the liberation war ended, many children were left without parental care, causing further misery in a region that had significantly suffered in the throes of political instability.
The area around Bogra is mostly rural, with most of the region’s workforce engaged in agriculture. Wage labour forms only 2.2% of total employment. Of the labour force engaged in agriculture, the vast majority are day labourers who earn low wages because their work is seasonal. Most workers thus struggle to make a living, and there is very little available to support their families.
Poverty and Increasing Illiteracy
Poverty is also widespread in and around the Bogra district where, according to official statistics, between 23 and 32% of the population lives below the regionally defined extreme poverty line. Children are often the main victims of poverty, and those without parental support hardly get enough food to eat.
Those children with families often drop out of school to work, as their parents struggle to meet their basic needs. In these face of these social and economic hardships, most children can only dream of going to school. The region therefore has a high illiteracy rate: 47% of the population cannot read or write.
What is SOS Children doing?
Following the liberation war, Bangladesh found itself in a complex social and economic situation. SOS Children approached the state authorities with an intent to support families all over the country and to provide new homes to orphans and other children who had lost prenatal care.
In 1995, we began supporting families and children in Bogra district, where an SOS Children’s Village is now situated about 5 miles to the north of Bogra city. Today, SOS Children seeks to keep families together by providing material assistance, training and support until they are able to provide for themselves. Children are also encouraged to go to school and are assisted with scholarships to cover the financial costs of their education.
In Bogra, SOS Children works closely with local agencies to support families in need throughout the Bogra district. We provide assistance to the local community, and offer family support to ensure children get access to the necessary educational, health and nutritional services. We also run an clinic where we treats a wide range of illnesses raise awareness of disease prevention among local families.
Shelter, schools and skills
Children who have no parental care can find a new home with one of SOS families at our Children’s Village. Here, the children are nourished, educated and raised in a loving and safe environment. When they grow older, they move on to the SOS Youth Programme, where they are cared for in a secure atmosphere while they develop education and training. Young adults are also taught practical life skills by qualified staff, and learn to shoulder responsibilities and make their own decisions.
To tackle the high illiteracy rates in the Bogra region, we have also established a primary and secondary school which is open to all children. With the provision of scholarships and other forms of support through our community work, many families can now afford to send their children to school.
More than one million people live in poverty in the Bogra district. SOS Children supports local families and provides better opportunities for local children.