During the Bangladesh Medical Mission in 2014, PWH provided primary healthcare services to women and children in the Kandapar Brothel in Tangail. It was an incredible experience to care for the sex workers and their children, and to listen to their stories about living in such a place. Many of the women were born there, grew up there, and became part of a mother daughter team. There were nearly 900 sex workers and more than 200 children living in the Kandapar Brothel in tin sheds, concrete-roofed houses , one-story houses and even a multistoried building with small chambers for each person. Sadly, due to political strife in Tangail, in the summer of 2014 the mayor of Tangail ordered all of the sex workers and their children to leave their homes. Even the elderly lady who had been born in the brothel and swept the courtyard was forced to leave. They all moved out quietly overnight one night in July, some not even allowed to take their belongings with them, and they dispersed to different villages, other brothels in JamalPur and Dhaka City, or even onto the street.
Because of the persistence of many of the sex workers and some NGO's, however, in the fall of 2014 the high court determined that the eviction of the sex workers was an illegal act. The court stated that the sex workers could not be evicted without the establishment of a rehabilitation center for retraining. So, they were allowed to move back to their meager homes. They slowly trickled back in December but found that many of their homes had been destroyed, or had roofs damaged, personal items ravaged, windows broken, cement walls crumbling, tin roofs gone and our treasured clinic was demolished. More than 500 women and children went back and have been slowly trying to piece their dismantled lives back together.
I visited the Kandapar Brothel again in June, 2015, and the Madams, and all the women met me and my colleagues from the Bushundhara Group with open arms. I saw a lot of the women and children that the PWH volunteers and I had befriended in 2014. A walk through the maze of narrow, broken sidewalks was disheartening, but I also witnessed the determination and resilience of this strong group of women. They led us to the new courtyard where brightly painted pictures of a lush garden, trees and children playing adorned the walls. We listened to the women's stories and heard of their struggles. It was quite an impressive sight.
When PWH had visited the brothel back in 2013, the Madams had asked that we return and provide primary health care to the women and children. PWH kept our promise and returned the folliwng year. We held our first primary care service in the small courtyard where there was a small, two-room house. In the center of the courtyard was a small temple cared for by one of the elderly women who had spent her whole life in the brothel. Although the space was small, it was sufficient for our primary healthcare service. But in 2015, that little two-room clinic lay in rubble. Remembering what we had done to care for young women with STD's and sadness and shame in those two rooms made me feel empty. And now the facade of a clinic we began as a request by the Madams was gone. I felt defeated; where do you start? As we all gazed at the rubble with blank stares, I made a vow: "Partners for World Health is going to rebuild the clinic"!
Everyone, no matter what your religion, your color or your choice of work, deserves to have access to healthcare. Even in a small clinic of cement blocks in a brothel. Partners for World Health has made a commitment to the Kandapr Brothel in Tangail.
Would you help us rebuild the clinic for the women and children in the Kandahar Brothel in Bangladesh? Can you support our project and make a difference in the lives of women halfway around the world? Will you buy a brick and help erect the clinic so we can provide healthcare to those in need?
The total project cost is $10,000. We can't do it without you. Buy a brick, buy a window, buy a door, buy a gallon of paint!!!! We need 10 bricks, 5 windows, 4 doors, 1 gallon of paint, 1 bag of cement, 3 tin roofs, 4 tables, 25 chairs and 10 bulletin boards. The prices are as follows:
Bricks - $50 each
Windows - $100 each
Doors - $200 each
Gallon of paint - $25 each
Bag of cement - $25 each
Tin roofs - $75 each
Tables - $25 each
Chairs - $25 each
Bulletin boards - $10 each