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Broken pieces

To look at the life of a poor girl in Bangladesh and the work of the Meider Jonno Asha charity, and to encourage students to appreciate that we are all made in the image of God with an ability to be creative.

by Janice Ross

Suitable for Key Stage 3

Aims

To look at the life of a poor girl in Bangladesh and the work of the Meider Jonno Asha charity, and to encourage students to appreciate that we are all made in the image of God with an ability to be creative.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. Explain that in our country at the moment there’s a job crisis. Through no fault of their own, many people are losing their jobs. Many students leaving schools and colleges are not able to find work.

    The reason is that our nation is struggling to recover from a recession (possibly this wording may need to be updated). We are not as well off as we used to be. We have to do without some things, and make do and mend rather than go out and buy.

    But we are still a rich nation compared with many other lands. Today we are going to hear about what it can be like for girls living in Bangladesh. (Show location of Bangladesh and Dhaka on map.)
  2. Rehana was 11. Like many other girls from the slums of Dhaka where she lived, she had never been to school and had to work to earn money. Her job was brick-breaking. This involved sitting in the sun all day breaking up bricks for reuse in the building sites of Dhaka. It was tedious, mindless, painful work. There was nothing of beauty in her work, no satisfaction of a job well done at the end of her day, no thanks. And just a few taka to show for her labours.

    Every morning Rehana would set up her umbrella at her spot on the building site, and start on the mindless task of breaking bricks. (Optional: put up umbrella and chip away at brick with small hammer.)

    Read the text, ‘There is a saying from India: You don’t pour water on another man’s field’ and discuss what this might mean (see Preparation section).

  3. Rehana might have spent her whole life brick-breaking if it had not been for a couple from Britain who were working as teachers in Bangladesh. Mike and Rosey saw her, and many like her, and were filled with pity. They saw that, like the broken bricks, this young girl’s life was broken. She had no hope of an education, no hope of finding out what talents she may have, no hope of finding beauty and fun around her.

    This is what happened on that first day.

    Read Rehana’s story as far as, ‘the very sweetest smile of hope and longing that she could manage’ (see Preparation section).


    Rosey and Mike decided they had to do something. This is what girls like Rehana are now doing. (Show picture of crafts.)

  4. An education was of first importance. Rosey and Mike began by approaching the parents of the girls. They offered to pay for their girls to come to school, a weekly payment equivalent to a week’s wages for brick-breaking. Rehana loved spending her days with other girls who also used to break bricks, or carried heavy shopping in the market for a living, or worked long days in a garment factory. They learned together, had a nourishing meal together and had fun.

    Rosey and Mike quickly realized that many of the girls were very good at needlework and could do beautiful, intricate embroidery. So Rosey and Mike researched and designed beautiful things. These are sold to the wealthy people of Bangladesh and are even marketed in Britain to friends and neighbours.
  5. Today, more than ten years later, you can hear the girls, now beautiful young women, chatting and laughing as they work and learn. They have dignity, a sense of self-worth and they receive much love and support for themselves and their families.

    The Bible says that God wants to bring into our lives, ‘beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning’ (Isaiah 61.3, Authorized Version). That’s why the charity that Rosey and Mike formed to raise money for the education and training of girls like Rehana is called ASHA, which means hope.
  6. What are you good at? What creative talents have you been born with? Maybe you are a skilled sports person, maybe a musician, maybe acting is your thing, or crafts, or writing, or caring for others.

    Be grateful for the opportunities we still have in our nation to develop these talents and gifts. Grasp hold of all the education, advice and support you have at home, school and in your clubs.

Time for reflection

(Silent reflection for a few minutes as you show the website homepage.)

Prayer
Lord God,
thank you for people who notice others
and are compassionate and caring.
Thank you for people who see potential in others
and do something to help.
Thank you for all those who influence our lives for good.

Bless the work of the ASHA foundation in Bangladesh.
May many other girls find the broken pieces of their lives
changed into something beautiful as they receive your love.
Amen.

Hymn

‘For the healing of the nations’ (Hymns Old and New (Kevin Mayhew), 139)

Publication date: August 2011   (Vol.13 No.8)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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