Calgary: Bangladesh needs your help

Plan Canada launches community sponsorship program to help lift an entire village out of poverty

CALGARY, May 8, 2013 /CNW/ - Plan Canada is launching an innovative sponsorship project in Calgary to support the community of Hatibandha, Bangladesh. Located in one of the poorest regions of the world, Hatibandha is a village where 44 per cent of people earn less than $1 a day. In Hatibandha, families, and particularly young girls, face severe challenges and barriers to basic health, education, and income opportunities. With the reputation of being tenacious, hardworking, and generous to their community, Calgarians are well-suited to help the community of Hatibandha begin its journey out of poverty.

Plan Canada's community sponsorship program will help young girls like 13 year-old Shohagi who lives with her parents and three younger siblings in a small house made of tin and straw. Shohagi is in grade four, and a good student, but like most young girls in her community, she won't be in school for much longer. Priority for education will be given to her brothers since money is tight and travel to school becomes too dangerous for a young girl. Shohagi will stay at home where she may face an all too common occurrence of child marriage. With support from Calgarians, this program aims to break that cycle for young girls like Shohagi.

"Generational poverty is difficult to change in places like Hatibandha, but with the support of Calgarians we can help make it happen," says Dr. Tanjina Mirza, Vice President of International Programs at Plan Canada. "This sponsorship program will enable real and comprehensive solutions to address multiple barriers and challenges in the community, meaning girls and their families will have better access to clean water, health care, basic education, and income-generating opportunities."

Olympic Gold Medalist, Hayley Wickenheiser, and Calgary Stampeder, Jon Cornish, are proudly stepping forward to help create awareness of this sponsorship project and encourage their fellow Calgarians to join them in changing the lives of children and their families in Hatibandha.

"I am so proud and honoured to be partnering with Plan Canada in the launch of its community sponsorship project in Bangladesh," said Canadian Olympic Champion Hayley Wickenheiser. "As the first female professional hockey player, I understand how important it is to address barriers and challenges that hinder or prevent girls and women from pursuing their passions and talents. This project is going to provide young girls in Bangladesh with opportunities to build a bright future for themselves and for their families and communities."

"I couldn't be more excited and proud to be partnering with Plan Canada in the launch of this community sponsorship project in Bangladesh," said Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish. "I believe this project is going to give young girls in Bangladesh the tools they need to succeed, like an education, so they can claim a better future for themselves and their communities."

In Hatibandha:

  • Two-thirds of children do not complete elementary school. This community sponsorship program will help children by training teachers and providing the necessary school supplies to learn. In developing countries, a lack of girls-only bathrooms is one of the main reasons girls don't attend school. To that end, the program will also look to set up girls' dorms and separate and private girls' latrines in primary schools.

  • Infant and maternal mortality rates are high, as women do not receive proper obstetric care. This program will address this challenge by rehabilitating health clinics, securing medicine and equipment, and training local staff and volunteers to deliver obstetric care, including family planning, pregnancy support, and nutrition.

  • The vast majority of girls will drop out of elementary school and marry before the age of 18. These girls have little chance to become independent women who can support themselves and their families. This program will provide education for girls, reducing drop-out rates, raising awareness of gender equality and ultimately changing social attitudes and practices.

For $37 a month, Calgarians can help develop sustainable, community-led programs that will improve the quality of life for children, specifically girls, and their families in Hatibandha. While the program will directly impact as many as 8,900 people in Hatibandha, it will also complement and support Plan's ongoing and broader programs in Bangladesh, including Plan's Women and Their Children's Health (WATCH) initiatives, that are reaching millions of people.

For more information on the community of Hatibandha and how to get involved and donate to Community Sponsorship, Calgarians can visit www.plancanada.ca/Calgaryhelps.

About Plan Canada Community Sponsorship
Plan Canada's Community Sponsorship program helps communities develop the tools and learn the skills to be self-sufficient in order to give their children a better future. Donors are supporting community-based, comprehensive solutions including gender equality, clean water, accessible health care, basic education and microfinance opportunities within a specific community. Plan focuses on communities in greatest need to reach as many people as possible.

About Plan and the 'Because I am a Girl' initiative
Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world's oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan has only one agenda: to improve the lives of children. Because I am a Girl is Plan's global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls' rights and lift millions of girls - and everyone around them - out of poverty. Visit www.plancanada.ca and www.becauseiamagirl.ca for more information.


SOURCE: Plan Canada

For further information:

For media inquiries, contact:

Abigail Brown, Media and Public Relations Manager, Plan Canada
T: 416 920 1654 ext 277  |  C: 647 971 3764  |  abrown@plancanada.ca

Angie Torres, Media Relations Specialist, Plan Canada
T: 416 920 1654 ext 244  |  atorres@plancanada.ca

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