In the Rajbari district of Bangladesh, many orphans live in poorly-built houses made of thatch, straw and leaves. The houses let in the rain and cold, causing children to fall ill frequently, and this affects their education as well as increases the financial burden of medical care. Their widowed mothers, living hand-to-mouth on low or irregular incomes, have little hope of improving the family’s living conditions.
In 2014, Islamic Relief Waqf constructed 85 houses to provide basic shelter for orphans, like Omar, and their families. The houses were also fitted with solar lighting systems, enabling children to continue studying after dark.
Twelve-year-old Soriful Islam used to live in poor accommodation with his mother. “We were a happy family, although my father’s income was so small,” Soriful recalls. “When I was four my father died suddenly, of unknown causes, while pulling his rickshaw. After his death nobody came to help us. We spent many days without food or had just one meal a day, and we wore other people’s clothes. It was very difficult for my mother to support our family. We had no source of income.
“Without support from Islamic Relief it would have been really difficult for me to continue my education. I achieved GPA-5.00 (A+) in the Primary School Certificate examination in 2014. Now I am confident that I can continue my studies. I want to complete my education and become an independent person with good character. I want to be a doctor in the future, and will serve the poor and orphan families, without any fee.”
The housing project also encouraged community participation through voluntary support from neighbours, relatives and civil society, helping to strengthen social solidarity. Materials for the houses were locally-sourced and local expertise and labour was used for construction and installation, providing valuable employment opportunities.
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