French philosopher and poet Gaston Bachelard had once said, “Even a minor event in the life of a child is an event of that child’s world and thus a world.” Children are our future. What we teach them today and how we treat them determine the individuals they will become. They are our successors and the future leaders of the world. To honour them, Children’s Day is recognised on a variety of days worldwide. The concept was introduced at the ‘World Conference for the Well-being of Children’ in 1925 and later established universally in 1954. Universal Children’s Day in particular is celebrated on November 20, under United Nations’ recommendation.
JAAGO’s participation in Universal Children’s Day celebration is almost as old as the organisation itself. JAAGO was established in 2007 as a collective effort of a group of youngsters eager to bring change. At the heart of the Rayerbazar slum in Dhaka, JAAGO was born in a room with a tin roof, with 17 children, a blackboard and a tattered carpet. The organisation started celebrating Universal Children’s day in the year 2009, a time when this day was much less heard of. The reasons for observing this day were twofold. Children are bearers of hope for a better future. They are wonderful gifts who are every bit worth celebrating. The latter reason – not as cheerful as the former – being, the generation of awareness for children who are deprived of their very basic human rights.
Over the years, JAAGO Foundation’s Universal Children’s Day (UCD) campaign has become its largest flagship event. The awareness campaigns and celebrations for UCD have grown hand in hand with the organisation itself. Every year thousands of volunteers advocate the cause of ensuring the education and well-being of children all over Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh, deprived children eventually get absorbed by the tides of destitution. None of us are strangers to sitting in cars, CNGs, rickshaws or whatever our modes of transportation might be, witnessing the slow withering away of precious lives around us. A staggering number of underprivileged Bangladeshi children take to the streets to beg or find some form of employment. JAAGO’s UCD is observed by taking these children off the streets of the cities. Volunteers donning yellow, the colour of the organisation, take to the streets to spread the message of basic human rights for them. The children who have never lived a normal childhood are taken to a carnival organised by JAAGO for a day filled with fun and smiles. This year, on November 19, across 8 Divisions and 32 Districts, thousands of volunteers will advocate the GOAL4 which is the 4th Sustainable Development Goal by United Nations General Assembly, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Bangladesh is on a rapid path of progression. However, the current success will be short lived if children are not invested in. We hope, through this initiative we can turn our attention towards facilitating the wellbeing and education of disadvantaged children all over Bangladesh.