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Chalantika Slum: Story of Arif

“My mother had two sons before me, but unfortunately they all had died at an early age. Now, I am the only children of my parents who are still alive,” said Arif, an eleven-year-old schoolboy.

Seventeen years back Arif's family came to Dhaka from Pirojpur district which is located in the southern part of Bangladesh. His father Shahjahan Hawlader married twice and have two different families to take care of. But Arif's mother Heria Begum Sweety did not know about her husband’s second family. “My father brought my mother to Dhaka soon after their marriage because of poverty,” said Arif. “Then, he started driving CNG auto rickshaw and my mother started working in a garment's factory,” he added.

Arif’s mother was in trauma as she lost her two sons in a row. In the meantime, she got to know about her husband’s second family. She struggled a lot that time both physically and mentally. Later, she gave birth to another son, this time it’s Arif, and he survived luckily. Afterward, she resigned from the garments factory and started to make paper bags what she learned from her uncle as a hobby.

Chalantika is a slum, which lacks every basic amenity needed for a better life. Also, the people here are unaware of the importance of education. This slum is predominantly occupied by laborers migrated from different parts of the country. Arif and his parents live together in a single room which is made of CI sheets. Here in this slum, every eight families use a single common toilet which is hanging on the lake.

When Arif was five years old his mother admitted him to ‘Islamia School' but the schooling was so costlier that they could not bear the expenses. Also, the quality of education was not up to the mark. In the meantime, Arif's mother came to know about CSCDP project of ADRA Bangladesh. “In the year of 2016, my parents brought me to the ADRA Bangladesh CSCDP project office. Then, they admitted me to Grade two in CSCDP Center. That day I was so happy that I could not even explain that you in words,” Arif was explaining about his ADRA school admission amicably.

Last three years he has been studying here and now he is in Grade Five. He is learning so many good things from his school and ADRA center.

“My parents are very happy as I am their only son who is still alive. They both were upset as they lost their two sons in a row. Now, they love me a lot. I like to play cricket and football after school. In my leisure time, I watch cartoons and popular TV shows like Gopalvar,” Arif was describing his hobbies spontaneously.

Arif always helps his mother in household chores like rice cooking, collecting water and cleaning. He has become famous among his friend groups and to his neighbors. Everybody admires him for humble, friendly and polite manners. Right now, he is attending grade Five in his school and getting all sort of supports from the CSCDP project, such as educational materials, health, and medical support, etc.

“Now, I am the class captain of my class in ADRA school. I want to complete my graduation from university, then I want to join in a school as a teacher. I would love to take teaching as a profession. I think I can help underprivileged students by this profession,” Arif said confidently about his life goal.

Arif and his family are very grateful to ADRA Bangladesh CSCDP Project for making their life a better one and obtaining an opportunity to make a better future.

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