Bangladesh: Supporting a school

(Fotos: Chittagong Hill Tracts, Moanoghar)

Brief report by Olivia Haas, 2022:


With our Bangladesh project we support a school in Moanoghar. Recently we received the following message, which also includes a report on the Corona situation in Bangladesh:


"The Covid 19 pandemic has affected us in many ways. Throughout the country, all educational institutions have remained closed since March 17th 2020 until today. We had expected that school operations would resume this month, but then suddenly the second wave of Covid-19 began. As of April 5, we were back in lockdown. The government has announced a complete lockdown across the country from April 14. Every day the number of Covid-19 cases and fatalities is increasing, with an average of over 6,000 Covid-19 cases reported last week. Since last year, a total of 684,756 cases of Covid-19 infections have been reported nationwide, of which 7,279 have died.


Some individuals in our neighboring regions have also been infected with Covid-19. So far, we are safe in Moanoghar, and no one has been infected. But the lockdown has far-reaching implications for us and for the children's education. We are trying our best to deal with this situation."


The lockdown of educational institutions from April 2020, referred to in this message, lasted 18 months and was one of the longest worldwide. The government decided to do so because the country has neither significant testing capacities nor a healthcare system that is remotely comparable to ours. During the lockdown period, the general social climate in the country worsened. Only a small part of the schoolchildren and students were able to make use of online services offered by the educational institutions.


Previous report  from 2020 by Karl Wirtz /Ed. RH:


As another aid project, we as "Mitgefuehl in Aktion e.V." have decided to support a school for poor children in Moanoghar, Bangladesh, which is run by a local non-profit organisation in the village of Rangamati, with the help of Buddhist monks. Our project director writes:


Nila is a 12-year-old girl, originally from Moanoghar, who had a dream of once being able to attend a proper school. In her homeland in Bangladesh, a country in East Asia that is regularly hit by great floods, about 165 million people struggle to survive economically, often facing great difficulties. 60 million children in Bangladesh, including girls like Nila, want to be able to laugh, play, learn and do many things like all the world's children.


Nila is lucky in a sense, because after fleeing the region's war zones, she and her parents stranded in the Cittagong Hill Tracts, a region in the far southeast of Bangladesh. Her parents have struggled to provide food daily, by offering unskilled labor and farming on a small piece of land. The family as such is very poor, with a total of 7 children. Nevertheless, Nila is very happy now because she can go to school in Moanoghar. Two of her siblings are still on the waiting list for a school placement.


In Bangladesh, many children (about 6 million) cannot attend school. Nila is one child who can. 

She was very happy when the list of new school children was posted at the end of the vacations in Moanoghar.


Nila's dream came finally true with her first day at school. In addition to her place in her new class, there was another huge surprise waiting for her: For the first time in her life, Nila and the 80 other children each had access to a real bed, a table, a chair and a bookshelf of their own.


You have to understand that in Bangladesh, children love going to school, they feel very happy when they are allowed to do so. However, in many schools there is only very basic equipment. The most important things are often missing. For example, there are no school desks. These are often only available for the taller students, while most children simply have to sit together on the floor or on benches that are far too small for them. That is why aid organizations such as Buddhist Global Relief (BGR) from the USA and Mitgefuehl in Aktion (MiA) from Germany help with donations to pay for furniture and to secure the running costs of the school, because the official subsidies from the state school authorities are sadly far from being sufficient for the running of the school.


The school in Moanoghar has existed since the end of the civil war in 1974, when Buddhist monks collected aid money and founded the "Moanoghar Peace School". 

Right from the beginning, their aim was to enable particularly disenfranchised children to attend school.


Today, 1250 boys and girls attend the state-approved school. There one now finds an active parents' council and intensive teacher training. The latter is very important, because there are often 50 or more children in a single classroom, a challenge for any educator. The school itself is organised according to the three-shift system, which means that each classroom is used three times a day by different classes.


This school also makes an important contribution towards enabling peace and reconciliation efforts in the region. The Buddhist monks who founded the school in 1974 still take great care to facilitate peaceful and religiously tolerant behaviour. For the girls from often extremely remote regions, there is the opportunity of finding accommodation in one of eight boarding schools, a common institution for school children in Bangladesh. Here the girls also learn to deal with each other's sometimes very different backgrounds.


The societies from which these children come are heavily dominated by men, which is why promoting girls and women is of particular importance here. Due to the fact that in Bangladesh it is mostly girls who have to drop out of school prematurely, special attention and care is given to the female students in Moanoghar, in order to give them a more secure future through education. 


In addition to the primary and secondary school, Moanoghar offers additional important "pillars": In the spirit of helping people to help themselves, a bakery and an agricultural program have been set up, contributing to the project's self-financing efforts. Furthermore, 45,000 coffee bushes, vegetable seedlings, fruit and cashew tree nurseries as well as bushes for erosion control were planted by parents and teachers. In addition to this, students are taught basic skills from various trades: tailoring, carpentry, agribusiness and food processing.


Basic healthcare has been established and vaccinations against Covid 19 have been organized and administered. Moanoghar is an exceptional teaching facility, because in addition to school education and basic medical care, peace and reconciliation work is also carried out here.


The school in Moanoghar has been working successfully with our partner organization, BGR, for over 10 years. During the last few years, BGR was able to build a new dormitory and implement an agricultural programme to meet the immediate nutritional needs of the children there. Especially the agricultural program is very close to our hearts and will be supported by us this year. Mitgefühl in Aktion is committed to these projects in order to secure the basic needs of the children and their families and to invest in the agricultural training of the young people in the spirit of helping them to help themselves.


With YOUR donation you will help children from poorer families in Bangladesh to have a more secure future through school education in a school in Moanoghar. Please use our donation account for one-time transfers and the donation form for regular donations. On behalf of the project, we thank you for your generous support.


*Names changed for privacy reasons