‘The right place for me’ – Standing with the pre-schoolers at the Friends of Basha daycare

When we ask Angela Lovely Mondol (Lovely) to identify a moment that reassures her that she will overcome the challenges that Friends of Basha faces in its work, her eyes light up.


‘It’s whenever I get to the daycare and the children are smiling and learning and playing. I know this is the right place for me,’ she says.


For many children, happy play at pre-school might not represent an enormous hurdle overcome. However, for the 120 pre-schoolers who attend the Friends of Basha daycare centres in Bangladesh, there has been no guarantee of a smiling childhood. These are the children of women who are survivors or at risk of trafficking. Their mothers are supported by Basha into dignified work, and Lovely’s job is to offer early childhood education for the next generation because as she says, ‘through education, everyone can have an opportunity.’


Children in Basha Boutique's day care
Play is an important part of the day for children in Basha Boutique’s day care.


The barriers these little ones face are immense – social exclusion because of the stigma of their mothers’ previous experiences; overcrowded homes, and often illiterate parents. Girls are also at risk of early marriage. But instead of looking at the problem, Lovely sees the potential: if children come to the daycare centre then ‘they have an eight-hour opportunity to learn every day. And if we have a loving and caring environment, and we as a staff are able to teach them properly, then they will break the cycle of trafficking.’


Over the eighteen months that Lovely has been in charge of Friends of Basha’s daycare, one focus has been a preschool pilot programme. With training, support and sponsorship from Rezwan Hussain and advising from Sarah Welch, Lovely and her team of staff and volunteers have set about creating what she describes as ‘a beautiful place for children to learn’. This has involved changing the kinds of learning activities offered to the pre-schoolers, giving them the chance to engage creatively with puzzles and blocks, offering music and dance and storytelling. It’s required staff training, too, followed up by observations of the teachers at work, and supported by English teaching from a volunteer. The mothers have been offered training, too, through International NGO, Normisjon’s, International Child Development Programme.


A chance to learn and play and flourish
Learning is fun at Basha Boutique’s day care


Lovely’s vision is a big one – first of all to demonstrate the success of these new approaches through the pilot programme, and to roll it out to Friends of Basha’s other four daycare centres. But she says that the impact won’t stop there – each of these children who have benefited from the rich new curriculum at their daycare centre is now an ambassador.

‘These children are setting an example in their families and communities… other girls will dream of a better future, and other parents will also be encouraged.’


Friends of Basha Programme Manager
Angela Lovely Mondol heads up our Friends of Basha programmes


This model of project beneficiaries ‘paying it forward’ is core to Lovely’s philosophy. ‘This is not just giving out some money,’ she says ‘- if we help them to believe in themselves then we create the opportunity to learn and be empowered – through education, through awareness and through dignified work.’


Lovely says that her dream is that these children will ‘stand on their own feet with dignity and self-respect’. Her request for others interested in helping? ‘Stand with them!’




Written by Elizabeth Gowing


📸: @tekoarosephoto