October 20
Khulna, Bangladesh
 
Dear Members of The Rotary Club of Dryden,
 
I (Rahima Begum) am happy to share with you about my efforts during the days of extreme Covid-19 and lockdown.
Rahima gathers food for children
 
Presently number of deaths and critical illness have decreased but infection is still happening. We are maintaining all necessary health regulations in family and 25 Amarok mothers are sharing & motivating others in community to obey the COVID health regulations like constant handwashing, maintaining social distancing and use mask to be safe from the virus. As a result, nobody has died because of Covid-19 in our slum. The surrounding areas was marked as read zone with red flag in April but our slum that time was in green zone. There are still few areas in our city with red zone alert. We are still in green zone. In that time poor people were desperate to go out for earning. Yes, many people of our slum did that too but they were careful and always followed the cleanliness and became well. During the bad days of food crisis all mothers of our school received a handful food package from Amarok that was very timely and useful for our life. Thanks to you and Amarok for the support.
 
As the lockdown was extending day by day the poor people lived on daily basis income were fallen in crisis of food. Our livelihood is always challenged even before COVID but closing of local markets, street foods, restaurants, factories, construction industries, education institution, transport services even selling in street shops or selling door to door by foot created an awful livelihood condition for many of them. Mothers of Amarok school visited door to door to aware people to stay at home to save them from the virus. But the livelihood needs specially food crisis made them worried for searching of works. People wanted to work but there was no work opportunity for earning even the personal employers were worried to take new people in. Mothers became worried for food shortage specially for young children. That time quality of food didn’t matter to me but we wanted something eat as little children needed food as it was difficult to make them understood”. We understood the situation and have control on skipping meals during hunger especially the women in the family always adjust food in our society.
 
When the situation was like this, then some of my friends Janu Begum, Amane, Johora, Jumur created a new idea in May, 2020. We thought as Amarok mothers in school we have some responsibility to feed the slum children if they could not eat in family. We already have an identity and a good reputation in our community. We arranged a meeting in Amarok Mother School on 24 May of this year and came up with the following agenda and proposal;
  • To cook in a house for children age 5 to 12 who did not get food at home or feeling still hungry.
  • Every day we will cook for one meal in a house of a mother for about 10 children. The host mother/s will be rotated started with the mothers of Amarok School.
  • Rice and a curry with inexpensive vegetables will be cooked at the mid of the day.
  • Capable mothers will contribute and if it is difficult for an individual mother 2-3 mother jointly could arrange the meal for a day.
  • We will collect donation like rice, vegetables and lentils from their own community and from 3 nearby communities to feed the children.
We formed a committee with 5 members leaded by Janu Begum. Amarok Teacher worked with us as a guide. We also selected few adolescent children from little better off families as volunteer for the “Day Meal for Young Children”. The first meal cooked on 28 May and continued for 5 weeks until the lockdown is little bit relaxed and poor parents started to get some work for earning. At the beginning we were little disorganized but after a week they developed a schedule and shared the responsibility.
 
Our Mother School and the Micro Schools for the children are opened from the 1st week of August. We maintain health safety & security joining in school. Our teacher has placed a bucket full of water and liquid handwash beside. We wash hand first then enter into the schoolroom. There is a doormat wet with Bleaching Powder placed outside where we wash our feet and leave our slippers outside. We use face mask and maintain distance in sitting.
 
Thank you for your support to me and to my micro-school for children.
 
With my love,
 
Rahima
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