WACIT Bangladesh: Then came the action plans – from slum dwellers themselves

After the visit, stakeholder interviews, urban and service mapping, came the crunch: the service transformation workshop. Elated to see five dwellers joining, but anxious whether they felt excluded and powerless.

Some frustrations inevitably came out in the morning discussion, but the way the small groups and action plans are structured (child-centred, realistic, concrete and measurable) brought them all to life by feeling empowered. Some examples: one representative per slum for each key area (child protection, health, education etc), monthly paren groups, twinning parents and do on – this was no fluke, but it took a long time and many people to get to this point.


WACIT Bangladesh: Slum service mapping in an urban context

Our service mapping was more systematic than before, building up to the service transformation workshop, thanks to the local Development Research Institute.

What was different this time, was involving urban planning and transport stakeholders, and exploring access to services. Pretty clear they have to be outreach, as slum dwellers an only afford to walk – even if their bread winners are rickshaw drivers.

But it was even harder to locate space for a playground and other leisure activities for children. One had to walk over a pile of rubbish and hazards to get to the only play facility…

WACIT Bangladesh: Mental health can build on existing health awareness programmes in slums

This is usually the order of events, but is gradually coming. The priorities have been sanitation and physical health promotion, but psychosocial issues are increasingly being tackled such as child protection, domestic violence and adolescent girls’ priorities, notably child marriage.

The note at the slum school that ‘there is also mental health’ was small, but will grow. The key is to engage and work with communities and parents – the evidence from volunteers was that parents would usually come round with dialogue and education, despite their initial reservations.

WACIT Bangladesh: Looking for service seeds in slum area

After the great DRI service mapping and stakeholder interviews, and the spatial mapping by Cristina and Marios back home (a typical inverse correlation of poverty and service access), I wanted to see for myself.

Found some deeply motivated people – community leads, volunteers, NGO and health outreach workers. Also some functional health promotion initiatives, a day centre, some schools within the slum and three health clinics a week.

The rest, as the map shows, is not accessible for people who can hardly afford a rickshaw fare, unless they are seriously ill. Only snippets of welfare – child protection – by NGOs, and those not with authority or clear remit. Most slum schools relied on short-term NGO funding, and the facilities were a struggle but with good community initiatives inside. This was evident in the school drop-out project – the children were warm and many working during their holidays. They seemed desperate to drop in, not to drop out.

WACIT Bangladesh: Looking for ways in for child psychosocial supports

We started the scoping analysis through the brilliant work of the Development Research Initiative in Dhaka who mapped existing services, identified and interviewed key stakeholders from communities and different disciplines.

But what does it mean on the ground? Where does one start with mental health concepts, available but scarce supports and services, and limited resources? Wanted to get a feel by visiting our target slum, and got some good vibes on entry points (to follow), but let’s start with the overwhelming needs facing residents and services.

What are our girls in Pakistan trying to tell us?

Two years ago, these girls at the Pakistan care home did not know what it meant to be asked for their opinions. Fast forward, and Sajida with the Hussaini Foundation have turned this round. It is as if the new nurturing environment has unleashed their potential – now they can’t stop! One could witness a similar safety/nurturing layer at the Hayat Foundation in Turkey with the more mobile street and refugee children.

This new ESRC IAA grant thus came at the right time to capture the views of these vulnerable children, their parents or caregivers, and professionals involved such as teachers, in order to help others. The purpose of the project is to adapt the service transformation intervention to a digital module. The additional innovation will be that, unlike the previous digital training, children and parents will offer their own solutions and recommendations to stimulate practitioners in their training.

We have a great team across several fields to deliver, not least Hussain our young entrepreneur and his amazing group.

Will get cracking after Eid!


Child Resilience Tour of Greece: Stage 4 – Crete

Putting aside the slight distraction of the elections and the early early start, a strong end to a great week and the of the first cycle, as south as it gets.

Key reflection? De-institutionalisation is so much more complex and challenging than mere simplistic aspirations of moving children out and onward (but where?). There are many levels of strengthening staff competencies, adjusting care pathways, putting guidelines and processes in place, making settings more child-centred and, of course building community (fostering, adoption and care leaving options).

More to come – special thanks to SOS Children’s Villages Greece, of course to Alexandra and Thanasis!