Oli is always hungry. The family have health problems, and are often forced to choose between buying food or medicine. Their income is small and uncertain and never enough. Photo by Lucy Aulich, World Vision
At World Vision we talk about ‘success’ in the field and it’s often hard to define, as it can be incremental. It’s usually the small things. It can be the ability for a family or a community to provide for themselves; to put aside savings for the future when the crops aren’t doing well. It can be a family that starts with one cow and then is able to produce a calf, a tailor who with the right training can build a business and employ others.
The thing that struck me when I met Sweety and Oli in Bangladesh was the difference having ‘success’ meant to the life of a child. Sweety came from a family you would class as successful. The only daughter of a farmer she spent her days playing with the other children in village, attending school and being treated to the cream from the milk after her father had milked the cow.
Sweety had a toy kitchen, with a stove and jugs to collect water, plates for imaginary guests. Her mother patiently helped her with her homework and untangling the knots in her hair and clipping her fringe with glittery accessories. Sweety proudly wore the jacket her father had given her as a gift and was trying to cajole her dad into buying her a matching hat.
We spent a day with Sweety and her family hearing about how her father had been through training with World Vision and how his cow was about to give birth to calves. He would milk the cow and then divide the milk into portions for sale and one for his daughter Sweety to drink. Sweety sat on his knee trying to distract him and being fed pieces of an orange. They were obviously close and due to the crops doing well, and her father planning to set himself up as rice wholesaler he can indulge her.
Oli was a spirited child obviously malnourished and lacking the opportunities of Sweety. His mother struggled to feed and clothe him and lacked the funds to send him to school. Oli spent his day building miniature dams, piling the mud and smoothing the edges to build walls to trap the water.
Oli’s parents had married young and were struggling. His father had borrowed money last season to grow rice which then failed due to heavy rains. To try to pay back the loan he had to fish through the night risking his health. Weary he would return home with either just enough fish to sell or to provide a small meal for the family. Oli would cry when there wasn’t enough food or when the bigger fish was put aside to sell at the market.
Even though both were only children, in a village not far away from each other, the situation between Oli and Sweety couldn’t have been more different. Sweety’s parents had taken the training and support from World Vision and created a secure future for their child where she could have an education, a future and a full stomach. Oli’s family on the other hand were falling further and further into a cycle of poverty where they were forced to borrow more to continue to survive and find a way out of basic subsistence farming.
World Vision works through it’s Area Development programs to identify families like Oli’s and to help them on to a better path where they can be supported through the difficult times, when crops fail and there is no seasonal work and build resilience and smarter ways to farm. Our funds to the field are crucial in helping families like Oli’s become ‘successful’ and giving a child the opportunity to access education and stop the cycle of poverty.
Help families like Oli’s achieve ‘success’ – support World Vision’s programs to help families earn a better income.