Over six million people call Chittagong home, making it Bangladesh's second largest city. It is located on the country's south-eastern coast and is its main maritime gateway, which has led to rapid economic growth in the past decades.
As with many areas of the country, Chittagong is very vulnerable to extreme weather and in 1986 50,000 people died during particularly severe floods. It was largely in response to this crisis that SOS Children began working here and we have continued to adapt our approach as new challenges arise.
The rapid growth of the city is one of the main challenges that has developed over past years. Whilst it has invigorated the economy of the area, it has also led to population growth that has put a severe strain on urban infrastructure and public services.
Many live without essential services, such as housing or clean water, and both education and healthcare are poorly funded, with illiteracy remaining high throughout the city. When children grow up without these opportunities, they often struggle to fulfil their potential as adults.
The strains on city infrastructure and public services affect poor families particularly badly. Combined with the social and economic challenges they face on a more personal level, it becomes very hard for parents to provide adequately for their children.
It is estimated that a million people live in extreme poverty in Chittagong, usually as a result of the limited employment opportunities and low wages. For children from poor families, having to enough to eat is rarely a certainty and it is hard to build a future in this unstable environment.
Our work in Chittagong
We work closely with the local population of Chittagong to ensure that our support for children and families is targeted as effectively as possible. SOS Children will continue to adapt to ensure that we are giving children the help they need to thrive.
Wherever possible, the best place for children to grow up is in a loving and supportive family environment. SOS Children helps make this a reality by running a range of family strengthening initiatives from the Children's Village in Chittagong.
This programme ensures that children are able to access essential services, like education and the healthcare provided by our medical centre. We also support parents, such as by providing day care facilities for working mothers and training courses to help teach income generating skills.
Sometimes children are unable to continue living with their biological parents, and in these cases they can find a home with one of 12 SOS families in the city. Here, they are cared for by their SOS mother and are given all the love and attention they need to grow up into successful adults. All of these children go to the local SOS school, which is an important institution in its own right.
When they are old enough, they can move into the SOS youth programme whilst they undertake further education or training. In the programme our trained counsellors are always on hand to help guide young people through the often difficult transition into adulthood.
We provide children in Chittaging with a promising future by giving them a happy childhood today. Will you help a vulnerable child in Bangladesh, and sponsor now?