Educating Children in the Chittagong Hill Tracts
Moanoghar was founded in 1974 by a group of Buddhist monks and lay persons to provide shelter to children of the Chittagong Hill Tracts affected by conflict or living in remote areas. Moanoghar provides formal education, vocational training, health services and support for the overall socio-economic development of its students in the area and of the wider community. Currently more than 1,250 children study at Moanoghar, half of them residential. Some 40% of the students are girls. Many of the children were left homeless or orphaned as the result of a decades-long ethnic conflict. All children at Moanoghar receive free or highly subsidized education.
BGR is currently sponsoring a three-year project to establish a sustainable educational system that can generate income to maintain the institution and support the children being schooled there. The project is now in its second year, during which the aims are: (1) to establish sustainable income to support the institution and the students; and (2) to add nutrition for students with crops like papaya and bananas. To meet these goals, BGR sponsorship allows the creation of a bamboo plantation on five additional acres of land (beyond the three acres that BGR supported last year); the planting of various fruit crops; and the hiring of an additional gardener to maintain the gardens.
Enhanced Homestead Food Production
Last year, BGR entered into a partnership with Helen Keller International on a three-year expansion of its innovative Enhanced Homestead Food Production program in Côte d’Ivoire’s Bouaké District (Gbèkè Region), an especially poor district where families struggle with food security and lack access to food markets. Teams teach the Enhanced Homestead Food Production model to community gardening groups comprised mostly of women. The project is designed to increase the availability and quantity of micronutrient-rich vegetables.
A key component of the program is growing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, a food rich in micronutrients, especially vitamin A, essential to preventing blindness. The project improves gardening practices, irrigation systems, and income generation. It also provides instruction in nutrition and hygiene to young mothers. Women farmers learn marketing strategies for selling their crops. Successful small-scale irrigation systems will be applied not only to programs in Côte d’Ivoire but throughout the region, especially to areas vulnerable to climate change.