The Independent recently reported an effort by Bangladesh’s government to count and interview beggars in the capital for the purpose of designing rehabilitation programs (article). While this is an important task, I would like to see the government take bigger steps towards addressing education for persons with disabilities before they become beggars. This statistic from the World Health Organization’s World Report on Disability (report) caught my attention, and I hope it will draw the attention of Bangladesh’s government as well:
In Bangladesh, the cost of disability due to foregone income from a lack of schooling and employment, both of people with disabilities and their caregivers, is estimated at US $1.2 billion annually or 1.7% of GDP.
Currently, Bangladesh only provides Braille education for a small fraction of students with visual impairments at its five special schools. BERDO’s School of Happy World responds to this unmet need by offering opportunities for children from Bangladesh’s remote regions to learn to read and write Braille at a residential school in Dhaka. Here are the stories from two students at the School of Happy World:
Md. Ashadul Huq was born with partial vision in only one of his eyes. An only child, he came to BERDO’s School of the Happy World when his father died and his mother was unable to care for him. Ashadul is smart and assertive and has incredible leadership skills for an eleven-year-old. He volunteers to help with chores and always asks me if I need hot water for tea or anything else to eat. He has made great strides in his ability to read and write Braille in his five years with the school and has adjusted well to the residential environment at BERDO.
Md. Sajib was discovered by a BERDO scout while begging on the street. His father passed away and his mother barely makes enough money to feed herself. He had sores all over his body that required immediate medical attention when he came to the School of Happy World, but since then he has made great academic strides in his three years at the school. However, the thing I have noticed most about Sajib is his playful sense of humor. He carries his mischievous smile with him all over BERDO’s facility and adds energy to any playtime.
The students spend most of their time inside of BERDO’s facility, so I decided to take them out for a special dinner.