The end of the year brings both nostalgia of times gone by and excitement for what is to come in the new year. We have had an incredible year again thanks to your support.
Memories and milestones of 2023
This year we expanded our street outreach and skateboarding programs to Cox’s Bazar where we provide showers, meals, medical aid, personal hygiene items, and skateboarding lessons to a group of an average of 15 children and youth under the ages of 14 per session. These children work and live on the beach and it is our hope to eventually open a home for them in Cox’s Bazar. We hired two female skate coaches who are also some of the top female surfers in the country to run our skate and outreach programs, both who came from impoverished and oppressive backgrounds themselves. They attended a week-long skate coach training at the skatepark BSKA built in 2021 where they learned the BSKA way of running safe, structured skateboarding lessons for street-based youth. They were also trained on how to offer street outreach services to engage more kids in the skate programs and care for their basic hygiene, First-Aid, and nutritional needs.
Orthopedic surgery for our participants
With the help of a Bangladeshi-American who started a GoFundMe campaign for BSKA earlier this year, we were able to provide two of our participants with life-changing orthopedic surgery. One was Riaz, now age 14 who has cerebral palsy. We have seen him on the streets begging from morning until evening, left on a roadside, covered in dirt and without access to a bathroom, food or water, since he was about 8 years old. He is now able to stand on his own and continues to receive the physical therapy support he needs to eventually be able to walk! The second participant was Sharmin who has special needs and was hit by a motorcycle while begging in the streets. Her leg was severely deformed from not receiving immediate surgery. Her leg is now straight and healing day by day! Big thanks to Dr. Bari, a world-famous orthopedic surgeon in Bangladesh who performed the surgeries at a reduced rate.
Our transitional home
Our transitional home in Dhaka continues to run more smoothly day by day as the youth in our programs receive the counseling and attention they need to overcome the traumatic effects of a life on the streets prior to being involved in our programs. The home has a capacity for 20 children and youth and the residents range from ages 3-15 years old. There are two house mothers, one male caretaker, and a night security guard who ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children 24/7. Five days a week, the home is staffed with an administrative assistant/bookkeeper, a psychosocial counselor, and a teacher. Classes run from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and focus on literacy and math. In the afternoons from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. topics include: environmental and social justice, life-skills, creative arts, and group counseling sessions. Kids are taken to different locations to skate on the weekends which are Friday and Saturday in Bangladesh.
Overall, our monthly reach is up to an average of 300 children and youth who are getting access to any one or combination of our services : drop-in services, housing, counseling, nutritional support, medical aid, personal hygiene support, literacy and informal education, and of course skateboarding lessons!
Electronic Arts (EA), a company that makes video games in the US, selected BSKA as one of 10 skate-related nonprofits this year to receive a donation of $10,000 USD. They create a game called Skate and are on their way to releasing the latest edition, Skate 4. BSKA will be featured on their social media to help generate further support for our programs.
Ending the year with a bang
We have recently signed a partnership agreement with the award-winning organization Skateistan. With Skateistan’s financial and programmatic support, BSKA has designed a program called “Bangladeshi Girls Shred” that will begin to be implemented on February 2024. Within this program, four of our long-term female program participants in Dhaka will be given the opportunity to become skate coaches and run creative arts programs while earning a monthly salary that will allow them to continue to skate and study. Many of the girls that are aging out of our programs are still at risk for child marriage and this program aims to continue reaching more at-risk girls through the empowering sport of skateboarding and the beautiful sense of community it creates that transcends all barriers that tend to divide us in our “normal” social settings. The main program goal is to give our female participants the leadership and organizational skills they can carry with them into future employment and educational opportunities. Looking forward to seeing how far they take the opportunity!