Boy on the street (Ai generated)

By Stephan Uttom Rozario, Dhaka

Mar 11 2024

Mahfuz was just seven years old when he left home and started wandering the streets. 

At a very young age, his parents sold him to another couple, by whom he was abused. He also suffered abuse from his teachers at the Madrasa (Islamic education center) where he was sent to study. Outside the school, he was labeled as “adopted,” with no parents to protect him.

Mahfuz had no place to call “home”.

After leaving home in 2012, life became even more difficult for Mahfuz. He began asking people for food, collecting and selling plastics found on the streets, and occasionally buying food with the money he earned by carrying goods for people at railway stations and launch terminals.

Mahfuz had to sleep on roadsides, at railway stations, or launch terminals. During this time, he encountered many young children addicted to various substances, including alcohol, marijuana, heroin, phensedyl syrup, and yaba (tablets containing a mixture of caffeine and methamphetamine, produced in Myanmar).

Grim streets

In December 2023, the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, with support from UNICEF, published the ‘Survey on Street Children 2022’. While the total number of street children wasn’t specified, UNICEF experts estimate it could exceed one million. 

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