Junior Writers Reporting

Hiroshima group supports building and running Bangladesh school

A Hiroshima group called “Bondhu” provides support to the people of Bangladesh. The group has about 20 members who are residents of Hiroshima, in their 20s to their 40s. In Bengali, the language spoken in Bangladesh, the word “bondhu” means “friend.” The group was formed in May 2004, after the “Goodwill Youth International Study Tour” organized by the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation.

The members of Bondhu were among those on the tour, and their visit to Bangladesh brought them face to face with the fact that many children of that nation are unable to attend school and must work instead. They also learned that the literacy rate in Bangladesh is low. Moved by this experience, they decided to lend support to the people there and set a goal of building a preschool.

The school, named “Bondhu,” was completed in January 2007 with funds gathered by the group from fundraising activities, including collecting donations on the street and selling curry and sweets at events in town. Running the school also requires an annual budget of 100,000 yen. The school currently has an enrollment of 35 children, who attend the school at no cost.

The members of the group have continued their fundraising efforts on the street and at events. They also hold presentations to deepen understanding of Bangladesh among the people of Hiroshima. They travel to the country once every two years.

The group is marking its 10th anniversary this year and, in June, they will hold a “reunion” of study tour participants from the years 2001 to 2009, inviting more than 100 people. Takeshi Hata, 31, the leader of Bondhu, is a resident of Naka Ward. “The problem of poverty can’t be solved only through support for education,” he said. “Comprehensive measures are needed.” (Takeshi Iwata, 15 and Minami Tanioka, 13)

(Originally Published on April 29, 2013)