In Bangladesh, there are no public educational services available for children with disabilities. Just 11% of children with disabilities attend (mainstream) school and for those with particularly complex needs, there are no educational opportunities at all; they remain at home, hidden and often ostracised from society, and denied external support to progress their cognitive, social, and physical growth.
In 2022 ALMT funding enabled the set up and running of two new Community Caring Centres in Savar sub-district, on the outskirts of Dhaka. These centres have quickly become established as vital services for disabled children and their carers, with the children making significant developments in learning and independence and the mothers reporting reduced isolation and improved wellbeing. This three year project will enable Carers Worldwide to fully embed the centres within their local communities and secure long-term funding for ongoing operational costs.
Working in partnership with local NGO, Centre for Disability in Development, over the next three years the centres will provide early intervention, therapeutic and educational activities for 50 children with disabilities, as well as providing mothers the chance to socialise, take time off from caring and earn income. By 2026, 25% of children will transfer to mainstream schools.
Each centre will operate five hours a day, five days a week for fifty one weeks per year and provide a nutritious meal to all attendees. A physiotherapist will attend weekly to work with the children and provide basic physiotherapy training to their mothers. Following feedback from year 1, children and carers will also receive quarterly support with Occupational Therapy and Speech and Language Therapy. Currently, most children with disabilities in the area have no access to such simple yet transformative care. Livelihood training and wellbeing support will also be available for all carers and family members.
Funding will also cover training for centre staff in goal setting, integrating therapy into daily life, play based learning, nutrition, safety and effective teaching methods. This will enable better outcomes for all children. Ongoing engagement with local government aims to secure local funding for the centres so that they are sustainable after the end of the project.