Despite the fact that the Government in Bangladesh has lifted the COVID-19 lockdown in May 2020, the socio-economic situation of many families remains critical. Even more concerning is the fact that the schools have not re-opened in Bangladesh since March 2020. The latest plans, indicating reopening in February 2021, still have not been confirmed. This means that children did not have access to education for nearly a year. As a result many vulnerable girls have disappeared completely from the radar of support networks. At the same time, in the current situation of COVID-19, Prime Minister Hasina has given instructions to enforce a "no mask, no service" policy strictly.
Our partner organisation has been working intensively in preparing the first face-mask making workshop for Dalit girls. Since the GlobalGiving funds have been disbursed to our partner mid November 2020 they successfully managed to gain the governmental permission to conduct the activities in the Dalit villages (such government permission is necessary and is quite a bureaucratic process). Up to this point in time a first batch of materials has been purchased: they have bought one new sewing machine, fabrics, scissors, needles and other small materials necessary for face-mask making.
Community workers have created awareness and enthusiasm about mask-making and a first group of 30 girls have signed up for the workshop. This opportunity will give them practical, transferable skills, will provide them and their families with necessary reusable masks, but most of all will provide a very welcome break from the isolation they are in now. The facilitators of the workshop will make sure that there will be plenty of opportunity for the girls to talk about their psychosocial well-being during the workshop. Any signals of risk of child marriage or abuse will be followed by swift interventions by the community workers. The venue is confirmed and we hope to kick off this activity before the end of this month. We will keep you posted on the results and will share pictures in the coming months.
We want to thank you for all your help and support to our programme because of which we are able to make positive changes in the lives of Dalit girls.