BAGERHAT, Aug 01 (UNB): The lone Sarkari Shishu Paribar in Khulna division is plagued with various problems, including accommodation crisis, forcing the authorities to halt admission of children to the orphanage.
Lack of a building has also forced the only state-run childcare in the entire Khulna division to cease the operation of its school five years ago.
Visiting the Sishu Paribar, this correspondent found the accommodation capacity of the orphanage came down to mere 31 from 400.
The children were found sleeping, eating and studying on a chouki (wooden bed).
Even official works were being done in the same room.
The existing building is considered to be risky for staying, as the plaster from its walls are falling apart and the rods getting rusted in addition to constant emission of foul stench.
Fourteen children were compelled to leave the orphanage in one month due to the dilapidated condition of the building where the orphans had been living. The authorities have decided to relocate the existing children to another place due to the risk.
The orphanage was established to house vulnerable and orphan children on a five-acre land in 1958 in Fakirhat upazila's Mulghar area, initially named as Khulna divisional Shishu Sadan (later renamed as Shishu Paribar).
Lack of maintenance and renovation caused all five of its buildings remain abandoned for years.
In 2013, one of its two-storey buildings, meant to house the children, was demolished as it was abandoned for years and no replacement was offered.
Rabiul Awal, a resident of the orphanage and hailing from Sahaspur village of the district, said he was sent here four years ago by his family, in an attempt to help him have education.
But currently his family is apprehensive due to the orphanage's precarious building condition.
Speaking to a few more children, this correspondent found that they have been living under precarious conditions. Many of their families are considering taking them back for lack of their safety.
The Sihsu Paribar authorities said the government spends Tk 2,600 per month on a child, aiming to rear them into self-dependent through rehabilitation and technical training facilities.
Although 30 officials are said to be working for the childcare, 13 posts, including the post of the caretaker, have been lying vacant.
Ayesha Siddika, a technical teacher at the Sishu Paribar, said lack of a building has prevented them from providing technical education.
Assistant teachers Pushpa Rani Biswas and Feroza Sultana said the children call them 'Amma', despite being their teachers, and they consider them as their own children as well.
But an atmosphere and equipment necessary to provide education remains absent, they added, expressing anxiety over their future.
Sheikh Khalil Al Rashid, assistant director at the Bagerhat District Social Services Department, acknowledged how the students and officials of the Sishu Paribar are languishing in the two-room tin-shed house.
They had last admitted a child back in July 2017.
Shahnaz Parvin, Fakirhat Upazila Nirbahi Officer, said a proposal to renovate and expand the childcare infrastructure is awaiting approval at the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC).
Kaniz Mostofa, deputy director of Bagerhat Social Services office, hopes that the proposal would be approved at Ecnec, but for the time-being they are pondering whether to build another tin-shed house to relocate everyone in the orphanage.
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