Stroll through any discount retail outlet and you’ll find clothes made in Bangladesh. It leads the world in manufacturing cheap, ready-to-wear clothing; it’s also now known as home to the largest garment factory disaster in history. Bangladesh is one of the world’s 10 most populous countries and it’s also one of poorest.
One half of the population struggles to find adequate food and other necessities on less than $1 a day. Making a living is extremely difficult for all but the elite few. Hard work in a giant clothing factory is a coveted job, though it pays as little as $70 a month. Human rights advocates call out Bangladesh for its terrible record on trafficking. Exact figures are not available, but estimates point to hundreds of thousands of children in slave labor – and millions of underage girls trapped in prostitution.
This video portrays the hopelessness in one of Bangladesh’ largest brothels (video content may be disturbing, use discretion). Girls are sold into sexual slavery by families, and work for years without pay. Since the people of this country are malnourished, extra body fat is considered desirable, so madams give their charges a dangerous medication called “cow pills” to plump up their bodies. The meds also make the girls look older so police don’t interfere with business. The pill is officially used to build fat on cattle. The brothels are places of misery, disease and hopelessness.
Even Bangladesh’s geography is disadvantaged. About two-thirds of the country is a vast low-lying floodplain leaving it vulnerable to natural disasters. Situated on deltas of large rivers that flow from the Himalayan Mountains, this terrain is laced with rivers, canals and creeks that offer no protection from frequent floods and cyclones.
Our David C Cook Global Mission team recently visited Bangladesh to link arms with more than 20 denominations and other church networks in the country to build a high impact ministry outreach to children and youth – something they do not yet have in place. Global Mission staff trained trainers who, in turn, will show hundreds of Bangladeshi volunteers how to serve thousands of at risk children. (The picture at the top of the page shows Bangladeshi Christians at the training interceding on behalf of their country’s children.)
During a visit we met one child who represented the desperate need to reach this next generation for Jesus. A team member said:
This little girl will linger in my thoughts and prayers for a long time. She came to the orphanage within the last month.
She is deeply troubled and hasn’t opened up yet to tell what happened her. The limited information they know is that both of her parents are dead and she is alone.
When we offered her candy, she took a piece and ate it, but never cracked the slightest smile. She remained expressionless with sad eyes and tight lips no matter what was happening around her.
Regrettably, this girl is not unique. Bangladesh is home to many thousands of heartbroken and abused children.
Hope, freedom, and dignity are alive and well in Bangladesh – and made possible through the Gospel in the hands of determined local believers. David C Cook’s Children At Risk program is giving them the tools to enable caring adults to gently and skillfully bring about emotional and spiritual healing in children who’ve faced horrific trauma.
The curriculum brings all the best features of an excellent Sunday school, but reaches much deeper, addressing tough issues involving violence, disease, abuse, trafficking, abandonment, and rape. The therapy-centered program develops character, teaches life skills, and makes biblical teaching relevant to where these children live. Many will identify their first heroes in the lives of David, Joseph, Esther, and others.
Please pray for the small minority of Christians in Bangladesh. They constitute 0.4% of the population and live among massive human need and pervasive spiritual darkness. (Muslims make up 85% with Hinduism covering another 14.5%.) This country deserves to be the focus of more ministry attention and support.
Also consider giving generously to keep this program reaching more and more at risk kids across the world. David C Cook covers all administrative costs, including translation and oversight. Your contribution goes directly to the heart of the program and helps us inject hope into thousands of children.