Hope and Despair

Dhaka Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 12 › view all entries

Today we have seen two starkly contrasting realities. One is the visit to the children's Village; and the other the slums of Dhaka along the railroad tracks.


The SOS Childrens village is an oasis amongst turmoil, situated in central Dhaka. One of our friends, Mucco, works in the administration and was kind to set up a tour for us.


SOS Children's Villages is an independent, non-governmental and social development organization, which has been active in the field of children's needs, concerns and rights since 1949.

Its activities focus on neglected and abandoned children and orphans, as well as disadvantaged families. This village has 15 "villages" (or apartments). Each with 10 children.

If a child cannot stay with his/her biological family, his/her right to care, protection and equal opportunities should still be guaranteed. This is the basic principle according to which SOS Children's Villages makes it possible for children to be part of a family once again by providing family-based care.

In 1949, Hermann Gmeiner laid the foundation stone for the first SOS Children's Village in the small Tyrolean town of Imst (Austria). Shocked at the plight of so many children left orphaned and homeless after the Second World War, he pioneered a family approach to child care based on four principles.

The goal at all SOS Children's Villages is to prepare and equip the children for an independent future. Each child receives education and training according to his or her needs, so that when the time comes to leave the SOS Children's Village, they are able to stand on their own two feet and achieve the goals of self-reliance, financial independence and social integration.


In the afternoon, Sara and I both felt compelled to also visit the destitute. Too poor to pay rent , they are confined to the real estate along side the railway tracks - "no mans land". Their shanty tarps held up by poles constitute their home. It is evident that foreigners are rare. People come out to meet us and treat us like dignitaries. We are overwhelmed by the number of children and babies. Most of which are malnourished. As we walk down the tracks, we are somewhat speechless as we see the condition in which these people live.

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photo by: cimtech