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My Encounter with a "Street Child"

My Encounter with a "Street Child"

My Encounter with a "Street Child"

In the summer of 2012, I had the opportunity to visit Bangladesh, my parents' home country. I traveled there several times before, but being older and more mature, I noticed things that struck me. As Bangladesh is a developing country, its infrastructure is weak, and about one third to one half of its population lives under the poverty line. Many of the poor include children and adolescents, who often end up living on the streets.

One sweltering summer afternoon during our stay in Bangladesh, we were stuck in the usual obnoxious Dhaka traffic. Feeling exhausted from shopping and the heat, I was almost about to doze off when I heard a knock on the car window. I jerked my head up and immediately saw a young girl, about seven or eight years of age peering into the car and holding a bag of fruit candies. Her hair looked disheveled, and her clothes ragged. Her eyes were sunken and she looked hungry, melancholy, and tired, but here she was, roaming through dangerously stuffed city streets, trying to sell lozenges for a living. My mom offered her some money and told her to keep it without giving us the candies, but she insisted so we ended up taking them. She then politely said thank you and walked on to the next car.

I had always thought that most of the street children in Bangladesh (and elsewhere) were up to no good. Why would children who were supposed to be going to school live on the streets and do petty, "dirty" jobs then? The encounter with that young girl made me think twice. Even though we had offered her a donation, she wouldn't take it without giving us the fruity candies. After talking to some of my relatives in Bangladesh and doing some research of my own, I found out that many of these children had migrated to Dhaka (the capital and largest city of Bangladesh) from rural parts of the country in search of better job opportunities to send money back home to their struggling families. Though the government has set up programs and many NGO's have formed to get children of the streets, the issue remains. According to recent estimates by UNICEF, there are about 100 million children living in the streets worldwide. 

Recently, the issue of street children has been put on the back seat due to focus on other social issues, but we should work on addressing it as it is greatly related to issues such as violence against females, poverty, and education. 


Noorhan is a high school sophomore. She is the founding president of her school's Girl Up chapter, and is a member of several other clubs as well. She is passionate about female empowerment/education and STEM/science research. When she's not busy with school, she enjoys writing, photography, outfit-planning, and traveling with her family.


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