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Watch this space for stories, bringing you closer to the lives of the urban poor children.
Stories of hunger, odds stacked against them, deprivations pinning them down to their grit in striving through it all and interventions that nurture them to be healthy and hopeful.



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Juvelyn, or Juvy as called by her family and friends, is a 14-year-old teen from a highly urbanized city in the Philippines. She is the eldest among three siblings. When her parents separated when she was still a child, she and her little brother came along with her mother while her little sister came with their father. 
She lived with her mother and brother in a shanty home in an informal settlement. Eventually, her mother found a man and became Juvy’s stepfather. When she was around 8 years old, she received physical abuse from her stepfather and they struggled financially. Without enough guidance from her parents, she decided to stop in the middle of her 1st grade in primary school. Her mother and stepfather ultimately broke up. 
In 2019, her mother was imprisoned due to an undisclosed case. This event devastated Juvy, who was 12 years old at that time. Thankfully, her grandmother is living nearby to take care of them.
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When the pandemic started, the family had to rely on the government’s aid for their food and other basic needs. Zeny, the grandmother, would offer laundry services to her neighbors. Her livelihood was affected when the quarantine restrictions tightened due to the pandemic. 
When the restrictions were eased, the average income that Zeny used to earn before the pandemic couldn’t be achieved anymore. She was struggling to provide for her two grandchildren. 
Seeing the situation of her family, Juvy initiated to help her grandmother earn. She approached a neighbor who produces brooms. She brings five of them to a nearby mall and sells them. She prices them for P30 ($0.60). She then gives half of her earnings to her neighbor who supplies the brooms. She keeps the other half and buys food for the family. 
However, she can only sell once a week due to the limited supply. During the other days, she begs for alms right outside the mall. 
“I need to find ways to earn money because my grandmother is already old and she can’t earn the same as before,” says Juvy. 
Juvy has been selling in the streets for more than a year already. She shares that she encountered all kinds of danger while she was outside. Aside from the existing virus that constantly puts her at risk, she also faces the danger of vehicular accidents because she is always crossing a busy street. 
While selling brooms outside the mall, security personnel would also chase them away because it is not allowed. During one instance, Juvy was chased by a mall guard and she dropped some of her brooms. She asked for alms for almost a week to pay for the lost brooms. 
Among all of those risks, the worst is being sexually assaulted by teenagers who also roam the streets where she works. “I feel scared because sometimes there are people who follow me all the time. I would join other girls in the street so that I feel safe,” says Juvy. She hopes to see her mother because she misses her a lot. She also wants to continue her studies even if she has to start from Grade 1. 
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“I want to be a teacher someday so I can provide a better future for my family, especially my siblings,” she shares. 
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The warm glow from a candle exposes beads of sweat on Binsa's face. The room has no electricity or windows and is dark even though it’s the middle of the day. Outside, the temperature is 35 C°. The sultry heat is harsh for her little body, but it’s not unfamiliar for the 5-year-old and her mother.  

"We get very little sleep," says Binsa’s mother, Lakshmi, with a nonchalant shrug at the suffocating heat. She is squatting on the floor as she prepares food. They don't have a separate kitchen, and the makeshift shelf under a table is where they keep most of their food supplies. Most containers are empty though. 

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Binsa lives in this one-room house with her mother, Lakshmi. The room has just enough space for a bed and a table. Tuberculosis took her father away, leaving them still grieving the loss.  

"We don't have a single photo of him with us. There is one photo of him, and it is with Prem bhaiya (Brother)," says Lakshmi, pointing towards the owner of the brothel where she works as a sex worker.  

Binsa follows her mother everywhere except when she is working. She doesn't understand the nature of her mother's job yet. She is a bubbly child with bright, beautiful eyes. She likes to spend time at World Vision India's Child-Friendly Learning and Recreation Centre (CFLRC). Here, she gets to learn, draw pictures with crayons, interact with other children, and enjoy some snacks. This is Binsa's heaven.  

“I enjoy learning and the snacks that I get at the centre. I want to attend school,” says Binsa. She can write the English alphabet and count up to 10. 

Binsa is yet to understand the challenges and discrimination hurled towards children of the red-light area. Lakhsmi foresees this but dreams of a better life for her children. That pursuit had a setback during the two phases of COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. With the lockdown putting restrictions on daily activities, most people employed in the informal sector lost their jobs. Lakshmi struggles to get food on the table. 

"Since the lockdown, I have been struggling to earn even Rs.100 a day ($1.82). I had no clients due to the lockdown. I borrowed money to buy food and took credit from the shopkeepers. I could do with one meal a day, but the children have to eat,"  
says Lakshmi. They live from hand to mouth, one meal at a time. 

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Already debt-ridden from the slow business and her husband’s treatment, Lakshmi still has to pay a monthly rent of Rs.1000 ($18.23). She also gives half of her earnings to the brothel owner. “If I earn Rs.200 he gets half of that. It’s a 50/50 deal,” she says in a matter-of-fact tone.  

Lakshmi is grateful to World Vision for the help they received during the two COVID-19 lockdowns. They were one of the beneficiaries of dry rations distribution worth Rs.2200 ($40) provided to 354 families at Siliguri red-light area. This was the fourth relief response World Vision has done since the first lockdown in 2020.  


"I’m stuck in the red-light area, and I can't change that. But I want my children to move out from here and have their own life,"  says Lakshmi. She especially worries about her daughter because she knows how unsafe and vulnerable the area is for girls. 

“Binsa had no place to play earlier. When I had customers, I had to send her out on the streets. Now she can stay at the centre, and I feel safer for her,” says Lakshmi. 

Today, Binsa is one of the youngest to attend the CFLRC. World Vision has three centres in Siliguri red-light area. Since the lockdown, the number of children attending these centres has almost doubled from 240 to 462.  

"When mothers are soliciting customers to earn their daily meals, hardly any child has a separate space at home,” says Jyoti, a World Vision volunteer at Siliguri red-light area. 

“This centre offers them a safe place to play and engage in fun activities and learning. The children eat nutritious food as well. This has been a great help for the community during the lockdown as many children couldn’t afford to get decent meals during that time. Sometimes, the whole family shares the food package we provide at the centre,”  
says Jyoti.  


At 15, Lakshmi was brought to Siliguri by a friend with a false promise of a good job but was sold into sexual slavery. Since then, the Siliguri red-light area has been her home. “World Vision has made a huge difference in our lives. Binsa is fortunate to get all this help,” says Lakshmi. She says she sees the transformation in the community since World Vision began working in 2018.   

Binsa makes sketches on plain paper and runs to her mother’s lap. She lifts the paper for her mother to see. Lakshmi has a smile on her face as she listens to Binsa talk.   

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“I want Binsa to have her own life, not this life,” says Lakshmi, as her eyes scan the rugged walls. Just like the dimly lit room, her life has been a claustrophobic one.  

Binsa is a ray of hope in that sea of darkness. When asked what Binsa wants to be when she grows up, she promptly replies, “Police officer!” Her mother’s face lights up with a smile.  




Sakib Al Hassan’s father died of kidney failure when Sakib was just a year old. His mother, Rabeya Begum, sold mats, but could not make enough to feed her two children. Now both Sakib, 13, and his 17-year-old brother, Sohug, have dropped out of school to contribute to the family income.

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For a year, Sakib has worked on batteries and dynamos in a machine shop. The 500 taka or nearly 5 SGD he earns goes to his mother. He doesn’t want her to have to work outside the home.

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The job hazards are real. He has gotten painful electric shocks at least 3 or 4 times when recharging car batteries.

Sakib misses school and the time he spent playing with friends there. For the past month, he’s been attending World Vision’s Child Friendly Learning and Recreation Center (CFLRC) where he’s had a chance to make new friends. “I can pass my time very joyfully with my friends,” he says.

The CFLRC is part of World Vision’s child protection program in Bangladesh. At the center, children can begin to receive informal education to prepare themselves to return to school.

He hopes that one day he’ll get to return to school, and that’s what the staff at the CFLRC are working towards so he can pursue his dream of being a doctor.

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For the past year, Choad Hossain, age 12, has worked in an engine mechanic’s shop for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. All that work earns him 2,000 taka (S$30) a month.

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The truck engines he works on are half his size. Sometimes the screwdriver slips from his grip, cutting his palms and leaving him throbbing from the pain.

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His father abandoned Choad and his mother, Jamila.

Jamila works at a plastics factory. With her meagre earning, the family struggles to have sufficient food, let alone Choad’s school fees and expenses.

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About the same time Choad was forced to quit school, World Vision invited him to begin attending their Child Friendly Learning and Recreation Center (CFLRC) in his community. The CFLRC is a big part of World Vision’s child protection work in Bangladesh. World Vision staff in the center tutored Choad to help him catch up on the education he missed over the past year.

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Choad knew that if he stayed in this job, he faced a future with limited possibilities. Now, with education he can expand his vision. “Now I have a bigger hope,” Choad says. He hopes to become an army officer one day.

You can help children like Choad have a brighter future.


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 Bristy Shraboni Akter is an eleven-year-old who spends her days working in a fish depot.

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Her world came crashing down a year ago when her father, the sole bread winner abandoned her family. She had to quit school to help provide income for her and her mother. Life has never been the same ever since, every day is a fight for survival.

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Bristy has to work long hours, doing backbreaking work at the fish depot. Prolonged squatting to clean the fishes has left her waist and legsthrobbing in pain. Due to overworking, she is physically and mentally fatigued.

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No matter how careful she is while cleaning the fishes, she cuts her fingers on a part of the fish that is as sharp as a knife.

She has to numb the pain and continue working as her boss in the fish depot shows no mercy. She has seen other girls getting slapped for messing up their pile of work.bristy- cities- story5

All that Bristy dreams of is for her to return back to school, wearing a uniform. She hopes to become a doctor someday.

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You can let Bristy know her dreams are not far away by supporting child labourers like her to go back to school.

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Knowing that they can go home to a nutritious meal is a blessing you can deliver to the lives of the children.
Support our Children in the Cities projects to provide so much more than a meal.

World Vision Singapore is currently supporting nutrition and urban poverty-related projects in Bangladesh, India, and the Philippines.


Nurture urban poor children to be
healthy and hopeful

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Journey with vulnerable communities to sustainability through Child Sponsorship

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