The Rotary Club of Dryden raised $36,000 through its Second Annual Xmas Promotion for schools in the urban slums of Bangladesh. These funds support our sponsored school, the Durbar-Shaikat Rotary Mothers’ School, and other similar schools in Bangladesh. Each school teaches 25 mothers in the morning, each of whom teaches five neighbourhood children at their home in the afternoon. 
Rotary support has amazing impact and reach. The Xmas promotion pays for a total of 4.5 Amarok schools. That’s enough to cover the basic education costs for 113 mothers to teach 563 children for the year. Every one of these children are the first in their families to learn how to read and write. Most will go on to graduate from high school. All get jobs and many complete college or university degrees.
Literacy is a game changer in these communities. Women have changed from disrespected and abused child brides to community leaders and catalysts for lasting social change. They are now active in educating neighbourhood mothers on nutrition, maternal health, and reducing household conflict. The mothers have organized significant supports to the neighbourhoods in the face of COVID, including sourcing of food, and education on sanitization, to combat the epidemic. They have even engaged governmental officials to improve infrastructure in their communities. Amarok mothers have prevented every child marriage in each of the 23 neighbourhoods for more than 2 years.
How do you measure self-esteem? Panna’s story is compelling. Her mother and father separated when she was 2 years old and was sent to live with her grandmother, a beggar. She, too, was a young beggar and not very good at it by her own admission. A neighbourhood Amarok mother approached her with an offer to teach her how to read and write. From a former mindset of no future and no dreams, she has developed newfound confidence: “I want to do some respectful job in my future and build a home for my granny so we don’t have to live with walls that leak and blow away. A place where we can be safe and happy.”
Rotary support for literacy in the slums of Bangladesh has led to transformation of lives and communities through mothers and children who now have the tools to make a difference.