For Heidi Hatch, a Food for the Hungry staff and child sponsor, her journey began with her sponsored child Rhaki four years ago in Bangladesh.
Rhaki’s community is Hindu and is walled off from the greater population, which is predominantly Muslim. According to the Hindu religion, the caste system ranks people in this community as “untouchable” or the lowest.
Journeying to her community during a school visit with Food for the Hungry, Hatch met Rhaki when she was 8 years old.
“She kept passing notes to me on her little chalkboard,” said Hatch. “Of course, it was in Bangla, so I didn’t know what she was saying. But I felt immediately connected to her.”
Since Hatch started sponsoring Rhaki with Food for the Hungry, she’s visited her several times and rejoiced in the new hope Rhaki now has for her future.
“When I first visited her community, I didn’t understand the issue of child marriage,” says Hatch. “Now Rhaki is 11-years-old. I know she’s at the marriage age. I was thinking she was going to end up married the next time I saw her. But now, I have hope that she’ll go to high school and get an education.”
Five years ago, Rhaki might have dropped out of school before the sixth grade. Since Food for the Hungry trained mothers in the community through savings groups, a change is taking place. The mothers are not letting their children get married before age 18.
“She just finished her sixth grade education,” says Hatch. “That was unfathomable for a girl in that community five years ago. The odds were really against her. Now, she’s planning on going to the seventh grade. Her older sisters weren’t able to do it—but she can do it.”