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Meena’s blog

Child Rights Week 2012 

01 October 2012
Apa said today is the first day of the Child Rights Week. Everyone will listen and talk on issues related to our rights. Like many other places, my school has also organized a special programme where my Headmaster invited all the villagers and our parents to attend the programme.

My friends performed dance, drama, poetry recitations, and performed so many other things! I am so happy today, everybody talks about us. We also talked with the elderly people about your wishes, fears and dreams. I never thought our Union Parishad chairman would respond to our questions and inform us what he will do for the betterment of the children of our village.

The chief guest of the programme, Dr Uncle said we need to eat nutritious food to grow as healthy and intelligent citizens. He said it is important to take care of pregnant mothers of the community as cognitive development of a child starts at the mother womb and it is important to feed nutritious food to the child till at the age of five. I did not know all of these. I have to tell Amena Apa, she is my neighbor and she will have her baby soon.

As Dr. Uncle also said we need to eat nutritious food for our growth and development. These kinds of foods are available around us, such as green vegetable, animal protein, vegetables and so on. Above all, we need love and care of all of you to grow as a worthy citizens and Apa said Child Rights Week is all about us.

My Birthday Wish 

24 September 2012
Today is my Birthday! Yes, today your ‘Meena’ is celebrating her 20th Birthday!

I started my journey of being your friend since 1993 and throughout this time I have been overwhelmed by the love that I have received from children as well as the parents across Bangladesh. Like any other child, I have a wish for this birthday – ‘I want all the children living with autism to be loved and profound social support extended towards all autistic children so that they are well accepted by their peers at school’.

Can you fulfil my birthday wish?

I know that there are around 8 autistic children among every one thousand children in Bangladesh and they have special demand in all fields, including the family, society, education and working life and it is our responsibility to meet those demand. Today, I would like to urge all parents not to show any negligence to their disabled or autistic children who need only an ideal environment to flourish their talents.

Did you know that world famous scientists Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton had also passed few years of their lives through autism? I believe that every physically and mentally challenged person has special qualities and they need ‘love and care’ from all of us.

I believe in you and I know you will fulfil my birthday wish!

Living in a slum, changed life of my best friend 

February 29, 2012
I was so excited – I was going to meet my friend Rubina who left our village last year with her parents to live in Dhaka. She is one of my best friends, and she is back for attending a wedding of her cousin-brother. This afternoon I met her - I was little bit shocked. She is no longer healthy, lovely & sprightly Rubina anymore!

She told me that she is living with her parents in a makeshift house close to the railway track. It’s a small room with no ventilation. She has to live with her parents and four siblings in the same room. It is extremely challenging during monsoon and summer. Her mother has to cook outside the room where she has to share the same oven with 30 other families. There is no space for children to play, except the railway track!

Rubina told me that initially, it was a challenge for her to cope with new situation in this unknown world. Since last month, she has been suffering from fever. Her father could not take her to Doctor as it is very expensive, but a compounder from a pharmacy gave some   medicine. It works for a while, but she is still suffering. Her father will take her to the local health complex tomorrow for her treatment.

I feel sad to hear how people like my friend live in the slums.

Children to Know the World through the Use of Information Technology 
  

3 October 2011

I have heard that many people are talking about "Digital Bangladesh" and was wondering what it meant. Do we, the children, have any share in it, or is it only an issue for the elderly people!

Once I asked this question to my cousin sister Beena, who lived in Dhaka and came to our village to spend her holidays with us in the village.

Beena explained to me that the word digital means information and communication technology, By using computer and internet facility, we can do many things.

This is a tool of communication which brings the world to our small village by using a computer. Beena has her own small computer she showed me its use. Initially, I was not at all confident , but slowly I have learnt by clicking the mouse and small buttons in order to get access of the world of information, fun and learn new things.

Beena showed me that we can even write through the computer by using Bangla alphabets. Don't you think it is an amazing technology?!!

My teacher said that we will also get a computer for our school. Teacher will teach us how to use the computer for our education and to know the world. Wow....it is really a fun...I am looking froward to it ...
Meena Day Sept 24, 2011/ Corporal Punishment  
 

24 September 2011

Meena Day will be celebrated nationwide today! Everybody is raising voice against corporal punishment on this day.

Corporal punishment is a bad practice, I feel so bad when parents and teachers punish children. I do not understand why they beat and abuse children.

Yesterday, my cousin sister Rumi complained that her teacher beat her as she could not memorize the poem in class. The palms of her hands became red from the beating! She now hates her Bangla teacher. She does not want to go to school. I am sure this is not the only case … it’s happening in many schools.

We, the children, do not like beating and punishment. I heard from my aunt that the Government has banned corporal punishment in schools. But why teachers are still beating us! My mum said, you can win the world with your love and affection, and most of my teachers are kind. That is why I love to go to school.

I wish all schools and houses become a safe haven for children, where nobody will beat children. 

Child labour 
 

June 10, 2011

I’m really excited that today is World Day Against Child Labour because it teaches us that children should not be working; that they should be in school.

Lots of my friends have to work because their parents are very poor. Some of my friends don’t even have parents so there is no one to help them when they get hungry or feel sick.

Not everyone is as lucky as Rani, Raju and I. We have loving parents who look after us but even our parents can find it hard.  One year there was a terrible flood in our village so father, Raju and I moved to the city so that father could find work but it was so hard so he sent Raju and I to live with families.

The family I stayed with forced me to work for them. I had to wake up very early in the morning and mop the floors and clean the dishes. Then I had to prepare meals for the whole family. I wouldn’t get to sleep until very late. I felt very lonely and tired and I missed my parents and Raju and Rani and especially Mithu.

Finally, my aunt rescued me. She told my employers that it was illegal to employ someone under the age of 14. She said that all children had a right to an education and should be protected.  
My aunt told me that in the city there are safe places where children can go to learn and play with other children but luckily, father, Raju and I returned home the next day, where mother, Rani and Mithu were waiting for us.

Keeping clean means staying healthy
 

March 22, 2011

I’ve had a very fun day today. It all started at school, where we learnt about keeping clean. Teacher told us that we get sick because of dirty germs that get on our hands and underneath our fingernails.

Germs are too small for us to see so most of the time we don’t even know they’re there. They can get onto our hands during lessons and play time. If germs get into our bodies they can make us very sick will illnesses like diarrhoea.

Teacher also taught us that if we wanted to stop germs from spreading, we needed to behave in a hygienic way. She told us to wash our hands after going to the toilet, after wiping babies’ bottoms and before eating. She also told us we should wash fruits with clean water, cut our fingernails on a regular basis and use proper latrines.

After school, Raju and I saw our friend Dipu coming out of a latrine and walk away without washing his hands. We told him why it was so important that he keep his hands clean.  Dipu didn’t know that clean hands can help, keep you healthy and neither did many other people in the village.

Raju and I decided we should spread the message that teacher had told us so we set about teaching everyone how to be clean and hygienic and they all thanked us for teaching them something new.

Saying ‘no’ to early marriage
 

January 13, 2011

My friend Mukta usually loves school, but today she looked very sad all day and hardly spoke when Teacher asked her questions.

As Raju and I were walking home after class, I asked Mukta what was wrong and she burst into tears! She said that her parents were arranging to marry her and that she wouldn’t be able to come to school anymore because she would be busy learning how to cook and clean for her new husband’s family.

Raju and I comforted Mukta, then ran home to tell our parents what had happened. They were shocked and Grandmother especially was very angry “It’s not right”, she said “It is illegal for girls to get married before they are 18, and Mukta is just 13 years old!

Mother and Father decided to join with other people in the village, and speak to Mukta’s parents as a group. Together, they explained that Mukta was too young to be married and that she should be allowed to finish her studies. Grandmother pointed out that pregnancy would be very dangerous for someone Mukta’s age.

It worked! When confronted by the whole village, Mukta’s parents felt ashamed and they agreed to let Mukta finish her schooling before they spoke of marriage again.

I’m so glad that Mukta will be able to keep studying. She’s the best at mathematics in our whole school and she told me that one day she would like to become a doctor.

When girls are allowed to study and learn, they can achieve many wonderful things and be a great help to their families. Let’s all take care of girls!

More than just a day

October 15, 2010

At school today our class celebrated Global Handwashing Day.

On Global Handwashing Day, girls and boys all over the world learn about how important it is to wash their hands with soap.

Teacher said that Global Handwashing Day is about more than just one day - it reminds us that we need to practice good hygiene every day of the year!  Teacher told us that many diseases could be avoided if only everyone would remember to wash their hands before they eat and after they visit the toilet.

At the end of the day, teacher took us outside to the tubewell and we all practiced washing our hands with soap. It was a hot day, so it was fun to splash about in the water with my friends!

In my family we all wash our hands together before we eat, and mother and father always wash their hands after changing baby Rani. I think that’s why we are so healthy.

Not everyone in our village is healthy though - some of our neighbours get sick very often. That’s why a group of older boys and girls in my village have formed a School Brigade! Together, they visit our neighbours in their homes to teach them about being clean and healthy.

When I grow up I want to be in a School Brigade!

Learning should be fun

October 4, 2010

This week, my friend Ruby and her mother have come to stay. Ruby does not live in our village, but sometimes she comes here to visit her grandmother.

Today, Ruby came to spend the day at school with Raju and I. We had so much fun! We drew pictures, read books and played games. Then teacher told us about CRC Week.

CRC Week is when we celebrate the Convention on the Rights of the Child – a special law recognised by countries all over the world. The CRC says that every child should be able to go to school, and receive healthcare, and that no child should experience physical or mental abuse.

Ruby does not like going to school when she is at home. She says that her school is not fun like ours. Our teacher is kind, but Ruby’s teacher sometimes hits children if they misbehave or have trouble understanding.

I hope that when more people learn about the CRC, they will realize that children should never be hit or hurt. Not at home, not in the workplace, and especially not at school. Learning should be fun!

The best place for a child to work is at school

September 20, 2010

In school today, Teacher read us a book about a bird that could talk. The bird reminded me of Mithu! I love when Teacher reads us stories. It is one of my favourite things about going to school.

Some children are not as lucky as me. Instead of going to school, they have to work to help their families earn an income. Some children work very long hours and are forced to do work that is dangerous. Sometimes working children don’t even get paid!

I get sad when I see children working every day and missing school.

I asked Teacher why not all the children in our village come to school, and she told us that all children have the right to go to school, and that no child should have to work long hours or do work that is bad for their health.

Teacher explained that, in the cities, working children can attend special afternoon schools once their work for the day has finished. I know about afternoon schools, because my friend Sarah goes to one.

I wish that all the children in our village could come to school with me so they could learn things and play and have fun.

Playing cricket like my heroes!

August 26, 2010

A couple of months ago, my whole family went to our neighbour’s house to watch Bangladesh play in the Asia Cup cricket tournament on television! It was very exciting. We were all cheering on our players and yelling “Hat trick!”

Ever since, Raju and I have been meeting with the other village children to play cricket. My favourite cricket player is Mohammad Ashraful. When I grow up I want to be a great batter, just like him.

One day my grandmother saw us playing cricket. Afterwards she scolded me and said that girls shouldn’t play sport. I don’t know why my grandmother said this, because playing sport is fun.

When I asked my teacher, she said that playing sport is important for boys and girls. She said that playing sport can give us confidence and also keep us healthy.

I’m glad that I can play cricket with Raju and the other children. Maybe one day I will represent Bangladesh in the National Women’s Cricket team, and I will be the star batter – just like Mohammad Ashraful!

Healthy food, happy life

July 19, 2010

Yesterday, Raju and I helped Mother take Rani to the Health Clinic to receive her latest immunisations. Rani was very good and didn’t cry at all! She must know that immunisations are good for her and will keep her healthy.

While we were there, the health worker asked Mother lots of questions about Raju and I. She asked how old we were and wanted to know what sorts of foods we ate.

The health worker told Mother to feed us lots of different kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables, along with rice, meat, eggs and milk. She explained to Mother that lots of good, fresh food is especially important for girls like me, because when I grow up I’ll need a strong body so that I can give birth to healthy children.

My favourite food is Guava. Today, Mother bought home a fresh, ripe Guava and gave half to me and half to Raju. It tasted delicious!

Sara’s New Job

June 10, 2010

Today I got a letter from my friend Sara who lives in the city. Sara is 14 years old and I met her when I visited the city with father and Raju (and Mithu of course).

Sara has just started a new job working in a tailor’s shop. The owner of the shop treats her well and she earns a good wage.

Sara used to be domestic worker for a family in the city and all she did was cook and clean all day. Then one day she started going to a special afternoon school for working children.

At the school, Sara learnt how to read and do arithmetic. The teacher at the school was very kind. She showed Sara how to sew and taught her skills that would help her to look for a better job.

Sara is so happy now! She has even made enough money to go back and visit her family, who live in a village a long way away. Maybe one day she will come and visit me.

I’m so glad that Sara was able to attend the special afternoon school. I think that all working children should have the chance to learn new things and make a better life for themselves.

A New Year

April 13, 2010

This week my house is full of visitors. My cousins have come to stay for Bangla New Year! They have travelled all the way from their home in Khulna, right near the Sundarbans forest.

My mother gives my cousin Salma a pretty red salwar kameez to wear for the New Year celebrations on April 14. She is so excited. She says that her parents have been poor since Cyclone Aila hit their village almost a year ago, and she hardly ever gets new clothes.

Salma says that the water rushed at her village during Aila, and washed away her father’s chicken farm. Some of her friends’ homes were destroyed and they had to live next to the road under plastic sheets. Salma’s school is still completely surrounded by water and every time there is a high tide, it floods! Salma told me that her family stayed healthy after Cyclone Aila by making sure they only drank water from tubewells that were not contaminated by floodwater.

I feel sad that Salma is still suffering so long after Cyclone Aila. I hope the New Year is easier for her and my other cousins.

CRC Week

October 5, 2009.
Today my teacher told us about children’s rights because this week, it’s the Child Rights Week. She showed us a book with nice images and she explained that all children should be able to go to the doctor when they are sick. This is the right to health. All children should also be able to go to school. This is the right to education. All children should be protected from violence, this is the right to protection.

There is a document called the “Convention on the Rights of the Child’ that says all the rights that children should enjoy. It is the first time I hear about this.

Then she asked us what we think about the situation of children in our country and what we would like to change. I said that no more children should be hungry. I know that in some families, children only eat once in a day. They are very thin and weak because they get so little food. I hope, one day, all children will have enough to eat.

An injection for Rani

3 January 2009
The health worker arrived in our village early this morning. She put up a cloth banner next to our school to remind everyone to bring all babies and small children to get immunized. The banner is bright yellow and has a picture of a baby on it. There are lots of black arrows around the baby. The arrows remind me of injections.

Mother brought my little sister Rani to the centre to get vaccinated. When the nurse put the needle in her arm, Rani didn’t even cry! Maybe she knows the vaccination will stop her from getting measles and other diseases.

It is good that I have already had all my vaccines. They really sting at first, but I know they stop me from getting sick.

Today is National Immunization Day. 3 January 2009.

Happy New Year!

14 April 2009
Today is April 14: Bangla New Year.

April 14 is my favourite day of the year in Bangladesh.  Everyone wears new clothes in red and white colours. We say “Shuvo Nubo Borsho” to all our neighbours and friends. It means: “Happy New Year!”

Bangla New Year is a lucky day to open a new business. Father and Mother decided that today was a good day to start selling milk from Lali, our cow. Mother bought Lali and her calf with a loan that the bank only gives to women.

I’m glad there will be extra money in the house from selling the milk.

 

 

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