April 2014: Ashraful knew what he wanted in life: a better education. For the 14-year-old that meant heading to the busy metropolis of Dhaka in Bangladesh – but when he got there, his brother-in-law refused to support him.
He soon found himself homeless in the Bangladeshi capital, where up to an estimated 1.1 million children live on the streets.
"Everyone tried to exploit me - the police, older children, snatchers – everyone," says Ashraful.
To achieve his education dream, Ashraful worked as a newspaper seller to help pay his school fees. He tried to fit his 3 hours of school classes around his work, which paid 50 pence per 12-hour shift.
The long, gruelling days started at 6am and went on late into the night, leaving him just a few hours to rest.
Drop-in centre support
It was while he was at school that Ashraful was introduced to a Plan-supported drop-in centre for children living on the streets.
To date these centres have helped over 5,000 children with support – including literacy classes and vocational training.
For Ashraful, the drop-in centre became his home for over a year – then, through Plan's street children project, he was eventually reunited and reintegrated with his family.
“I have a father who cares for me and a mother who loves me unconditionally. I have siblings who hug me when I feel low. I feel protected. I feel happy. But every child who has lived on the streets is not so lucky. Many of them do not know or remember where their families are,” he says.
See how Plan’s drop-in centres are changing the lives of other children living on Dhaka’s streets:
International Day for Street Children
The International Day for Street Children* is celebrated every year on 12 April. The day provides a platform for the millions of street children around the world - and their champions - to speak out so that their rights cannot be ignored.
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