Thrive started out when three mothers got together with the simple but meaningful intention of giving hungry children in Dhaka some nutritious food. Development worker Priscilla Heffelfinger and teachers Regina Landor and Gina Gabel were deeply affected by the dire situation of underprivileged children upon moving to Bangladesh.
“I have been to many countries where there are many underprivileged people, but the situation is really tragic in Bangladesh, with small children begging on the streets,” says Regina Landor.
The three mothers decided they must do something to help, and when they visited various small schools across the city to see what they could do, they found that most students and teachers agreed on the fact that the children required food. There are a lot of NGO's working to improve children's education, but many donors and grants don't fund school feeding programs because it is not easy to monitor and evaluate. A lot of children were coming to school hungry, and they couldn't concentrate on their studies because of it.
The founders then launched the initiative “Thrive” in November 2012, by providing a banana a week to school children with money from their own pockets. When the founders started posting photos of their work on their Facebook page, there was a huge response from their friends who wanted to know if they could help in any way. Slowly but surely, their volunteer base grew to over 100 volunteers on and off, and now Thrive provides more than 1600 meals per week to schools around Dhaka. The meals are nutritious, consisting of a banana, a hard boiled egg, a handful of peanuts and a piece of seasonal fruit or vegetable. Thrive is particular about always providing nutritious, seasonal local food to the children, and the volunteers also promote good hand washing practices.
The founders and volunteers of Thrive organised an event on Saturday, 24 January to highlight this humbling initiative among a larger audience. The event brought together potential volunteers, donors and others who are genuinely interested in making a difference in any way possible. Thrive now has a Board of 13 members, and is an official NGO. American International School Dhaka is in charge of managing Thrive’s funds. From February 1, Unimart will purchase the food items on behalf of Thrive. Thrive is a completely voluntary organisation with no paid staff.
“Us founders conducted a meeting with local businesspeople to make a sustainability plan, and we were really excited by the support we got from people who have pledged to keep up our hard work in the future,” says Priscilla Heffelfinger.
The event was organised by Amna Rahman, Sadia Moyeen, Sarah Karim and Samreen Moyeen. Food, drinks, tea and coffee were donated by volunteers of Thrive, along with Holey Artisan Bakery, North End Coffee Roasters, and Kazi and Kazi Tea. The brochures and card support was provided by graphic design firm Jot Workshop.
“Putting this event together was important because Thrive has been doing such great work for so long, and many of us did not know about it. Those who are privileged are often protected from the reality of our country's people, and I hope by volunteering for Thrive we can become more active citizens,” opines Amna Rahman.
For more information and to become a volunteer, visit www.facebook.com/thrivefeededucategrow
Photo: Mehereen Aziz, Thrive