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05 Aug

Young ‘Mums’

Young Bhola Island child

Child marriage is a big issue for both the government and NGOs such as Co-operation in Development.  We are at the front line of this issue and try to work with local authorities to counter the cultural pressure to marry girls off young.  The practice is hard to police as locals use means such as fake birth certificates, and switching identities to ‘facilitate’ the matter.   But we have in recent times managed to head off two child  marriages of kids at our school—brides who would have been no more than 13.

Something much more heartwarming however is the willingness of kids in Bangladesh to look out for each other, whether or not they are relatives.   This young boy is playing ‘mum’ to his younger sister outside one of our schools.   It’s a dangerous country for kids, with traffic to dodge, and the chance of drowning at every corner, so everyone is looking out for everyone else.  I’ll never forget a driver I regularly use there jamming on the brakes to try to avoid running over a chicken.  He well knew that that chicken meant a meal for a whole family.

Olav Muurlink

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