My baby is pretty flipping lucky.
Born in a well-funded hospital with well-trained staff. Immunised to keep him safe from dangerous diseases. Lots of friends and family able to support him and his parents. Clean, warm clothes, a well-nourished mother to feed him, laundry and sanitation facilities to keep his bottom dry and his gut free from bad bugs. Lucky, lucky, lucky.
There’s free education to come, too, and a welfare safety net should anything terrible happen. Lucky boy.
When I was in Bangladesh a few years ago I met some other lucky boys.
One of the big boys – young men, really – taught me to play a cool drum and another to write my name in curly Bangla. Then they ran off to play cricket with the little boys.
We were all at John Takle Hostel in Brahmanbaria, run by the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship, where they lived and went to school.
They were all from extremely poor ‘tribal’ families in rural Bangladesh, where they could expect none of the advantages my son was born with.
Probably, none of them could have learned to read or write in their home villages, and they would have grown up to earn very little, live anxiously and lose children to preventable diseases or child labour.
But these boys were lucky too, like my boy, because the Bangladesh Baptist Church Fellowship offered them places at John Takle.
With the cost entirely funded by overseas rich folks like me, BBCF can take a boy from a village, feed him good food, house him with a bunch of new mates in a hostel, give him clean clothes (the ‘warm’ part is taken care of by the climate, mostly), healthcare, haircuts, books, shoes and a matron to supply the cuddles he misses during term-time.
They get to know Jesus and each other very well. I was struck by how brotherly they were to each other (and not just when they saw us looking).
These kids (there are girls’ hostels too, but I was visiting a boys’ one) go home at holidays, pass onto their families the literacy and hygiene skills they’ve picked up, the songs and stories they’ve learnt about Jesus, reconnect with their neighbours and then come back. They’re known for giving back to their communities when they graduate.
When they get to 18 and pass their final high school exams (the pass rates are brilliant for our kids), they enter the five per cent most educated Bangladeshis and are ready to make a difference in this troubled country.
And so they do. I met medical, teaching and leadership staff in Brahmanbaria who had come through the Baptist hostel system. I gather there’s even been a Chief Justice among the hostel graduates.
Whole families are lifted out of poverty as these children are given what my son will inevitably take for granted.
I pay $35 a month to cover the entire cost of a child’s board and education. I get awesome letters and can visit him when I’m next in Bangladesh.
Having visited one of the hostels, I am completely sold that this is the best bang for my overseas buck. The whole system is a local one, with just the funding coming from overseas Baptists (and anyone else interested).
If you’d like to make a Bangladeshi kid as lucky as a Kiwi one, click here to read more.
And if you have any personal recommendations to make about how we can give some of our luck to a kid like these, pop it in a comment below.