Photos courtesy: Odommo Bangladesh Foundation
Take a walk in Kamlapur, Sadarghat or even Mirpur – and you will come across a unique setting with children of all ages grouped together. The school, or rather called the Mojar School in no way showcases conventional classroom settings with uniformed children parroting instructors. Here, the 'school-rooms' are buzzing with activities – while one group of children read out loud from story books with some help from a young volunteers, others focus on the finishing touches of a masterpiece, filled with blue clouds and green oceans. The school equally pays attention to cricket crazy students who would prefer to hit sixes and fours, and to the silent chess players who would rather sit in a corner and concentrate on the plastic soldiers. All in all, the school truly is a fun space for the young ones! These children belong to the underprivileged families in society and study at the Mojar School for free.
The Mojar School, one of the many projects of a registered organisation Odommo Bangladesh Foundation, started on January 10, 2013. A non-profit organisation, here hundreds of street children study, eats and interacts on a regular basis. "Our schools are located all over Dhaka," says Arifur, one of the founders and also instructors. "We have schools at the Suhrawardy Uddayan in Shahbagh, Kamalapur Railway Station, Sadarghat Launch Terminal, Airport Railways Station, Gabtoli Bus Station and the Agargaon slums."
The school follows a blend of formal and non-formal curriculum, which includes sports, music, art, creativity and so much more. "We encourage our young students to voice out, to express themselves and care for each other," says Jakia Sultana. "The school makes sure that the children are happy at the end of the day and that they remain so for the rest of their lives. This world is so much more than just the materialistic talks we hear all the time. We want to make sure that the children become independent when they grow up and work towards achieving happiness." The children are also taught to stay away from illegal substances, where the negative impact on their lives because of drugs is explained and thoroughly communicated at all stages.
Yet another school, which is also a part of the foundation, is the Khola Akaasher Nicher School, literally meaning, the school under the open sky. This is a fun structure made with make-shift tin-shed materials, plastic covers and other materials one can find on the streets. On Saturday afternoons, crowds of children enjoy this school in the Sadarghat area. "We do tend to keep this school closed during rain, heat and cold," says Arifur."
According to the volunteers, there are some interesting projects happening under the banner of Odommo Bangladesh Foundation, with some interesting names. "To date we have around 3 running projects, aimed at educating street children and children belonging to the underprivileged families," says Arifur. "Other than the schools mentioned earlier we also have a shelter home for street children.
Usually we run this with our own funds, but we do welcome funds from outside."
Yet another project which takes place on a regular basis is a fun event with the children where they interact, play games and receive gifts. "We have an event called the Phol Utshob (Fruit Festival) where we display 5 different deshi fruits every year. On Eid-ul-Fitr, we give away new clothes and gifts, where as on Eid-ul-Adha, we have grand dinners of rotis made of rice powder, pitha (traditional Bengali delicacy)," he adds.
Winter is a lot of fun with lots of activities at the Mojar School! "We collect warm clothes and blankets for the children, organise sport weeks picnics and try to take the children out to eat at restaurants once in a while."
A bunch of young students, volunteers, dreamers of a better society, a better country, the builders of a stronger nation, are out there to make a difference. The Mojar School, clearly runs on youth power, passion and love. Let's join this group and help build a life for all the street children we see around us every day. To learn more, visit the Mojar School on facebook and spread the word!