In end August 2022, Plan International (Hong Kong) CEO Dr. Kanie Siu travelled to Bangladesh, one of the countries in the world with the highest child marriage rate, to learn about how girls struggled to survive under child marriage and our related work. Poverty there is further intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to surging child marriage cases in these 2 years. The girls’ situation is worrying.
Kanie met 16-year-old Khadija and her daughter, who is 3 years old already. Under deep-rooted gender inequality, girls are seen as a burden. To reduce financial stress, parents often marry off their young daughters. Since then, the daughters could not but say goodbye to their childhood and dreams. Raised in a poor family, Khadija is so weak and has suffered from malnutrition. The burden of pregnancy and giving birth served a severe blow to her body and mind as she never received proper recovery. As a full-time mother, receiving education and achieving her dream was made impossible by never-ending housework. Plan International is currently striving to end child marriage through providing scholarships and public education, hoping to change the fate of many girls.
Khadija, who is 16 only, was married off by her parents when she was 11 years old. At 13, she gave birth and became a mother. She could not but say goodbye to her childhood and school life.
Bangladesh is also a country seriously affected by climate change, hindering children’s learning process. Kanie visited a school of around 500 students in Kurigram, one of the 5 classrooms was damaged by severe floods making the study environment even more crowded. Furthermore, there are only two toilets available for all the students. To ensure students could receive education in a safe environment, Plan International has launched several projects to renovate a school building, improve school facilities and provide students with various learning aids, helping them to get back on track with studies as early as possible.
Floods damaged many schools, and without a safe learning environment, it is difficult for students to concentrate on their studies.
Getting access to clean water is the key to health, yet, for the students in Bangladesh, it is not as easy as we imagine.
Christmas is a wonderful time to give your blessings. We sincerely invite you to partner with us to offer your helping hand to girls like Khadija and the underprivileged children in Bangladesh. They, just like everyone else, should never be constrained by child marriage or poverty and they have the right to explore the world and fulfill their dreams.
Apart from sending the blessings yourself, you can also send Gifts of Hope in the name of your friends and families and send a heart-warming e-card to them via our website or Facebook. Are you willing to give the children a happy Christmas?