Mahmudul Kabir is the Country Manager for Terre des Hommes Netherlands in Bangladesh. He has dedicated 40 years of his life to providing support to people in his country, especially children. Kabir is leading his team in implementing projects and programmes that benefit the most vulnerable children and those who are exploited.
“We have noticed that the most vulnerable children have shown their talents and best performance in schools academic records, music, dance. All the children have talents, no matter whatever their family background. If we give them the opportunity, they can rock like any other children from so called rich families”.
Talking about his motivation in being part of the child focused organization, he said, “The country was destroyed during the war of liberation in 1971. Moreover, Bangladesh suffered various natural disasters for which the country was still very poor and could not offer adequate support to many poor families and children. That was my motivation, otherwise I would have become a civil servant like many of my friends and family members”.
Over the years, Kabir had been involved with TdH’s various humanitarian and development aid. “TdH has saved hundreds and thousands of lives from malnutrition through therapeutic feeding, emergency medical treatment, provided access to education, skills for the youngsters for gainful employment, withdrawn children from child labor, protected many street children from abuse and exploitations and provided rescue and rehabilitation support”, Kabir said.
“Gradually TdH has moved more into structural development with preventive health care, support to the children of most vulnerable communities like ethnics minorities, families in hard to reach areas like offshores islands in the south with integrated comprehensive development. Livelihood support to the vulnerable families has been the key to support the children”.
He added, “Later since 2012, TdH started focusing on child labour, commercial sexual exploitation, child abuse, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and child trafficking. We have also been working on preventing child marriage, empowering the early married girls, combating commercial sexual exploitation of children, and online sexual abuse and exploitation”.
Currently, Kabir and his team are running three projects. One is IMAGE Plus where they have been supporting children who were married as a child and deprived of their rights, stopped going to school, having the risks of pregnancy as a child and a big barrier to lead a dignified life.
Kabir and his team has been able to improve their bonded conditions, creating an enabling environment by engaging their spouses, mothers-in-law, families, communities, and organizations, and the government. Thanks to the project, many girls are going back to school, learned how to take care during pregnancies, obtained skill training, and engaged with better livelihood options, and knows how to deal with gender based violence.
The other projects focuses on advocacy in preventing online sexual abuse and exploitation and implementing government laws and policies on trafficking of children and women, respetively.
Through the years, Kabir had to overcome challenges to his work in Bangladesh such as poverty, social norms, and poor implementation of government policies and laws. In response to these problems, his motivation was not affected.
Kabir hopes to see similar actions towards the support of vulnerable children in his country and around the world. As continues to work through the COVID-19 pandemic through continuous awareness sessions on preventive and curative measures through visual platforms, he believes that children and their families need more support more than ever before.