W O R L D C H I L D R E N’ S D A Y S P E C I A L
Ayaan Shams Siddiquee
Nutrition – Education – Technology; integrating these three fundamental factors into their objectives, Mojar School started its hopeful journey with 13 students at Shahbag back in 10 January, 2013.
Mojar School, an Odommo Bangladesh initiative, is a non-political, non-profitable organisation, working for the underprivileged and street-children of Bangladesh. The realisation of the social responsibility of a youth group is what compelled them to initiate Mojar School.
Odommo Bangladesh Foundation carries out its regular activities under five sectors of operation, namely the Educational Programme, Youth Development Programme, Food and Nutrition Programme, Residential Programme, and Social Enterprise. Mojar School is such an initiative which falls under the Education Programme. At present, in Dhaka and Monpura (Barisal), a total of about 2,000 children are getting the opportunity to study in 8 branches of Mojar School, in which 4 branches (permanent schools) are conducting free education to 700 underprivileged children as per the national curriculum. The remaining 4 branches (Shahbag, Kamalapur, Sadarghat, Dhanmondi) are run under the open sky where they are able to reach more than 1,300 children per month.
To combat the unwillingness of the parents to send their children to school, Mojar School provides free education to these underprivileged children. In addition to school supplies, school uniforms, shoes, bags, breakfast (cake/bread/egg/banana/bakarkhani with a glass of milk every day) and lunch (fish/meat/egg with white rice or khichuri) is supplied to these children as well. Hasibul Hasan, Programme Manager of Odommo Bangladesh, told us, “Every three months, we organise a parents-teacher session to make the illiterate parents understand the necessity and significance of their children’s education.”
Mojar School faced a hurdle upon the announcement of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since education is their primary objective, Covid-19 stalled the pace of their activities to a large extent. However, the activities of the organisation did not stop at this time. Since the inception of Covid-19 till today, they have provided lunch to about 1 lakh 20 thousand under-privileged people. They claim that work is also underway to make 81 families self-reliant by providing permanent employment through rickshaw, livestock and sewing training. In addition, since the inception of Covid-19, more than half a hundred children on the streets had been provided with 24-hour accommodation, education, entertainment, and sports facilities in isolation.
“All protocols for corona security are being maintained with utmost importance. Volunteers campaign to warn children and volunteers about coronation, including using PPE, masks, hand gloves, washing hands with soap regularly, and maintaining social distance,” said Mr Hasibul.
Upon the arrival of the gruesome cold of winter, Mojar School has reinitiated their signature event, Mojar School – Winter Festival 2020 Season 06, wherein they plan to provide at least 5000 street-children with warm jackets. Since the school is not run or funded by any particular organisation or government project, local funding, Sponsor a Child, and CSR collections from various corporate companies are what sustain them and their activities.
The ultimate goal of Mojar School is to establish a “street-children free Bangladesh”, for which they have implemented respective plans. They hope that the first batch of students will graduate from Mojar School’s own university, as capable assets of the society, within 2033. In addition, they work relentlessly to eradicate child labour and child marriage through collective means of education, awareness, and counselling.
As young change-makers try to step up and work for noble causes in the field of philanthropy, Mojar School has one piece of advice for all of them — “লেগে থাকা” (Keep at it). They believe that success will come, only if one sticks to their dreams and goals.