Located about 200km from Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, Rajshahi is known as the 'Silk City' due to the high quality of the silk produced here. To this day it is one of the main producers of silk in the country.
Besides silk, the city also attracts a large number of tourists due to a number of nearby sites of historic and cultural interest. The climate here is also especially good for growing lychees and mangoes, so cultivating these crops is a primary source of income for many families in the area.
Rajshahi is one of the most impoverished region in Bangladesh, with an estimated 35.7% of people living below the poverty line. As is so often the case children in the area are the first to suffer from poverty, as their parents struggle to provide even their most basic needs.
In many cases they even have to go to work themselves in order to help their families get by. This robs them of educational opportunities, putting their futures at risk, and the often high-risk jobs expose them to even more immediate dangers.
Vulnerable children from poor backgrounds are often targeted by local gangs who are involved with smuggling firearms and drugs. This exposes children to danger from a young age and furthers their social marginalisation.
Giving children a supportive and caring home environment is essential to keeping them away from gangs, and the violence that comes with them. This will have a positive impact for both the children involved and society more broadly.
What are we doing in Rajshahi?
We have been working in Bangladesh since 1973, and in Rajshahi since 1979. This was the second SOS Village we opened in the country and we have built deep roots in the local community.
Loving and supportive families are the best place for children to grow up, so SOS Children is committed to keeping families together wherever possible. Our family strengthening programme ensures that children have access to a range of essential services, like education and healthcare, which helps to ease the strain on poor parents.
The programme also offers parents training in sewing and embroidery - particularly important skills in Silk City - and a day care facility that looks after their children whilst they go to work. Additionally, our clinic provides a variety of important health services, including vaccination programmes and advice on family planning, to everyone in the area.
When children are unable to stay with their families they can find a new home with one of 15 SOS families in our SOS Children's Village Rajshahi. Up to 150 children can be cared for at any one time and all attend local schools, where they are able to start building strong relationships with other local children.
As they grow up they move into the accommodation provided by the SOS youth programme. Here, they are supported by qualified counsellors as they undertake further training or education and begin to build a future for themselves.
Vulnerable children in Rajshahi need your help today. Will you give hope to a Bangladeshi child, and become a sponsor?