Hearing impaired Eti Akter and her brother Hridoy Mia at CFS, KDC slum in Barisal. -AA
Child Friendly Space has become blessing for Barisal slum children. The UNICEF project named 'Child Sensitive Social Protection in Bangladesh' under the Ministry of Social Welfare (MoSW) is working for the betterment of slum children of Barisal city.
In the recent visit of a Child Friendly Space at Balurmath, KDS slum, in Barisal City this correspondent has found some excellent works by the UNICEF for the wellbeing of slum children. Activities of the Child Friendly Space are done to ensure access to services for children who are living in the urban slums. One teacher, one social worker, one peer educator placed to ensure wellbeing manifest activities at each child friendly space. Aparajeyo Bangladesh, a NGO is operating the CFS.
Strategically CFS is situated in close proximity of government mainstream schools. It has multiple effects in improving school attendance among children in the communities. The objectives of the CFS services are: To identify children in need of special protection; to build relationship and to get them access to basics services in psychosocial, health, education, life-skills and personal safety; referring children to other relevant actors and services so that children remain protected in all aspect of their daily life; to use child-friendly place as breezing for children with disabilities before entering into main stream or special school; to do case management of vulnerable children
including out of school children and facilitate children in entering into government schools.
Aparajeyo Bangladesh has been running five CFSs since 2012 in Barisal city with UNICEF support. It provided capacity building training on running the CFSs, case management and vulnerability assessment to NGO staff also supported by the UNICEF.
CFS projects have some achievements so far. These are: approximately 400 children are receiving services from the CFS social workers assessed vulnerability of 1594 children and referred to CFS including children with disabilities and 27 children with disabilities integrated into CFS for receiving services.
Challenges of the Spaces area: Involving social workers of department of social services with the project, sustainability of the project after withdrawal of UNICEF support, ensuring proper care and support for the children with disabilities.
Eti Akter, 13, and her brother Hridoy Mia, 11, the hearing impaired, are studying in the CFS. They told The Asian Age, "We are studying at Space. It is a very good place for us. We are learning here how to overcome our physical difficulties."
Their mother Maksuda Begum, 35, said, "UNICEF is helping my family and two children. Before admitting in Space, my two children could not do anything. But now they are able to do something." Rumana Reshmi, a social worker of CFS, said, "General schools in Barisal city usually don't show interest to admit physically challenged children of slum areas. But when Space recommends, all nearest schools of slums admit them. It has been very effective for the slum children to get education from a recognized educational organization."
Another social worker Gautam Dhali of CSPB (Sensitive Social Protection in Bangladesh) said, "CFS selects some children who are at more risk. Of them we give Tk 36, 000 by 18 installments to four children for the improvement of their condition."
-Golam Rosul, back from Barisal
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