The Founder of PEP with the help of two of its staff, who live nearby Town Hall field, began a small effort during the 2013 winter months to provide warm clothing to these neglected street children, some of whom were sleeping on the footpath or Town Hall field. These three PEP persons regularly go to the nearby Town Hall field for exercises and running and join by the street children whoever presents in the early morning, aged 5 – 13. Later, the tea stall breakfast has been introduced, children with medical problems have been given opportunities for medical treatment, and a football was purchased to arrange daily game with great enthusiasm by these children, who previously had no play activities in their daily routine. They had spent their daytime carrying a large plastic bag and filling it with old plastic and metal to sell to the recycling businesses, earning a little money for their slum-dwelling families. A local social worker, Amjad Hossain, has been helping in many ways and is eager to get the children into afternoon schools.
The behavior of the children is gradually improving. They were habituated to lash out at each other with a fist or foot when any disagreement, but are slowly learning to be more patient with each other and to get an elder to resolve their small problems. However, at the tea stall, the adults who sometimes become impatient with the children and want to smack them, are also being trained not to do so, but to patiently help the children overcome their bad habits.
PEP is contacting other Mohammadpur organizations which are working for the poor of the slums to build more unified and effective efforts for assisting them. The organization is also contacting the MP elected from the area and intends to invite shopkeepers and local residents to make some commitment for ongoing help for these street children and their families. The tea stall owner already started donating about Tk. 10 per day from the breakfast cost. An ordinary resident may sign up to provide Tk. 19 for one breakfast for one child per month. Those who can afford more and local shopkeepers will be organized for helping to make the program more sustainable. There is good hope too that the government will contribute towards this new and important intervention for the children and their families.
A long-term resident of Mohammadpur Town Hall commented: “I have been here for 35 years and have never seen anything like this done for these poor children. The result has been that these neglected children, whose fathers and mothers work full time as laborers, rickshaw pullers, bicycle van drivers and small traders of vegetables and fruits, gradually learn unsocial behavior, often becoming the local mastans.” If the program could be established for long-term, it will make a significant change on the lives of these deprived street children.