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First hand view of need in Bangladesh

Wed, 9 Jun 2004

First hand view of need in Bangladesh

As World Vision launches its major child sponsorship campaign for the year, World Vision New Zealand programme officer, Bernard Gomes, has just returned from Bangladesh, where thousands of children urgently need to be sponsored.

Sixty-seven million people in Bangladesh, nearly half the population, live below the poverty line. Thirty-two million people are malnourished.

"The most urgent need in Bangladesh is for children's basic needs to be met," says Mr Gomes, who is from Bangladesh. "World Vision is working in many places, but we need New Zealand sponsors to come on board and help these children."

However, he says there are encouraging signs for this struggling nation. "Bangladesh has done very well over the last few years, with help from agencies such as World Vision. It is on the way to food sufficiency, but there is still hunger in the poorer communities as well as other basic needs such as education, health, roading, and income generation for the parents."

He was particularly impressed with men's and women's groups and savings groups, which organise themselves, with World Vision's help, into cooperatives. "With a bit more assistance, many of the groups that I saw are well on the way to being self-sufficient. They have gathered enough capital and now no longer need financial assistance. But they still need guidance and business mentoring."

Child sponsorship helps whole communities, firstly addressing basic needs of the children such as food, health care, shelter and education. Then the parents are helped with training in jobs, skills training, animal husbandry, better crop farming practices. World Vision helps community members work together to start small savings schemes, establish community banks, and progress towards self-sufficiency. The community development programme, funded primarily by Child Sponsorship needs World Vision's help for approximately 15 years before the community is ready to stand on its own.

"Child sponsorship is, in my opinion, the best way to fund community development," says Mr Gomes, who has been a development worker for ten years, and who monitors programmes throughout Asia and the Pacific for World Vision New Zealand. "If the child is helped, and the whole community is supported towards self-sufficiency, that spells long term development success."


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