I can still picture it.
The brown-reddish dirt. Children singing. Small hands gathering. The smell of food frying. A chicken passing by. Colourful drawings. Rice thrown in the air. And a sea of little faces.
This was one of a number of visits I made to Child Clubs in rural Bangladesh, on a recent trip with Baptist World Aid.
And each time, I was struck by the hospitality, joy, and most of all, the confidence and hope in the eyes and hearts of these precious children.
But before I go on, it’s worth clarifying a few things…
What is a Child Club?
The Child Club concept is simple. Gather a group of children together, help them to appoint leaders within the group, give them a safe space to meet, enable them to play, learn, and dream together, and then watch as the accomplish incredible things for themselves… and their communities!
In Bangladesh, I met well established Child Clubs who were saving money to build club houses and communal spaces where every child in the community would be free play and learn.
I heard an incredible story of two young girls visiting the home of another club member, to lobby her parents to allow her to keep going to school (as opposed to being kept at home to help with housework and on the farm).
I saw children that were equipped with the language and knowledge to fight to be educated, to learn dance, play music, play sport, and to work towards a profession that they might have had no other exposure to elsewhere.
Why do Child Clubs exist?
Do not underestimate the impact children can have. Giving them a safe space as well as the structure to meet, plan community events, and support each other, demonstrates to them that they deserve to be heard.
And that means they matter.
In an environment where the odds are stacked against them, children can be surrounded by their peers who empathise, support, and advocate on their behalf.
You see, change for this generation translates to change for the entire village. As these children rise to their full potential, they become even more confident in the fact that they can contribute back to their village. Not just in future, but today as well.
Why was I there?
As a Board member and long-time supporter of the work of Baptist World Aid, I was there to observe and understand (in a new way) the work that you help to make possible “on the ground”.
This was not my first visit to Bangladesh, nor do I suspect that it will be my last. But it was my first time meeting with children struggling with poverty – young girls in particular – who are fierce, confident, and ready to conquer life.
Seeing and understanding the work that you and I support – in the flesh – was a revelation to me.
So often we believe that organisations like Baptist World Aid exist to help fix problems. But this is so far from reality. We are there to give all people the space and opportunity to reach their potential.
Educate, equip, and empower these kids…then watch what happens.
So, are you watching?
You can support this work through your Big Hearted Giving. Build children up. Let them know they matter. Choose the Big Hearted Gift of Child Friendly Spaces and help create safe environments for precious children, TODAY.