For many children in villages all around Bangladesh, access to education is out of reach. Read more about how 13 year old Maruf left his village to build a better future through the Muslim Hands School of Excellence.
Maruf Hussain's village is a world away from the school he attends in the busy town of Roynagar, Sylhet. The area is lush and green and tall trees bursting with coconuts and bananas provide the five families staying here with daily sustenance.
The only water supply is a stagnant pool of rainwater. Maruf's mother boils the water over their open log fire to make it safe for consumption. But even in this apparent natural paradise, life is tough.
Maruf, his mother and five siblings live in three rooms. Their roof is made from corrugated iron and there are no carpets on the bare mud floors.
This village is not unusual. Many people living in villages all around Sylhet, Bangladesh, would be familiar with the scene. And for many children in villages like this, access to education is not readily available
But fortunately, with the encouragement of his mother, Maruf joined the Muslim Hands School of Excellence in Sylhet in 2010. Now, five years on, 13 year old Maruf is top of his class.
During term time, Maruf stays in accommodation provided by the school as his village is over a two hour drive away. The school accommodation sleeps up to 68 pupils, all orphans like Maruf, whose father died before he was born. The students remain here until they are eighteen, when their education at the school comes to an end.
The facilities for residential students are basic, but very clean. The children, aged between 7 and 18 years of age, keep their clothes on their beds, (one of them lifts their pillow up to reveal a clean, freshly starched shirt) and the rooms are kept immaculately tidy. All the students staying here are given 3 nutritious meals each day and homework support is available, when the school day is over.
The School of Excellence teaches the national curriculum. Subjects include Science, Maths, Computer Science, Islamic Studies and English. Despite the provision of a top notch computer lab for I.T studies, it is English that really interests Maruf. He tells us that, when he leaves the school in four years, he wants to study the subject further in order to become a teacher.
Muslim Hands takes a holistic approach to education, with the overall welfare of students an important aspect of our projects. In our school in Sylhet, the large playground allows space for Maruf and his friends to enjoy their favourite sports; cricket and football.
With 12 classes, made up of girls and boys of all ages, including a kindergarten for children under the age of five, the Muslim Hands School of Excellence really does cater to everyone. For children like Maruf, the positive impact that the school has had reaches far beyond the classroom. Maruf tell us, “This school gave me a start in life and Muslim Hands also gave my mother a sewing machine to make clothes for us.”
Through the generous support of our donors, Muslim Hands has been able to provide education for Maruf as well as the means of a livelihood for his mother.
Insha'Allah, with the continued support of those who give to our education projects and orphan sponsorship scheme, Muslim Hands can make access to education for children in villages like Maruf's a reality.
By Tijen Horoz, Senior Communications Editor