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A Mothers Tale | Momtaz
““I used to be so afraid of losing him. I was always scared that, someone would steal him and I would never know where to look for him,” recalls Momtaj with tears in her eyes. At the time, clutching her newborn child she named Morsalin, Momtaj had taken to the streets to beg once more”.
24-year-old Momtaj’s world had been shrouded in darkness her whole life, as she was born with blindness. But it was after she had a child that she truly longed for sight. Her whole life she had suffered rejection and stigma. Children made fun of her, people treated her with disrespect. Her own family regarded her as a burden. She grew up in neglect and deprivation in a family struggling with extreme poverty. Unable to find any work at the village, the family moved to Dhaka city in search of work and took shelter in the slums of Titi para. Momtaj’s mother started begging, taking Momtaj along with her so that people took pity on her blind daughter. Momtaj was paraded on the streets for a while until her mother decided to marry her off out of desperation. And thus Momtaj was married to Forhad, a boy from the streets who had no source of income. He abused her because of disability and she continued to suffer in silence. After two years of marriage, Momtaj gave birth to a baby boy, which only led to more hardship as the family could not afford proper meals for themselves, let alone feed another mouth. The final blow arrived when Momtaj’s husband left her and her child and got married to someone else.
“I used to be so afraid of losing him. I was always scared that someone would steal him and I would never know where to look for him,” recalls Momtaj with tears in her eyes. At the time, clutching her newborn child she named Morsalin, Momtaj had taken to the streets to beg once more. Just like she had accompanied her mother as a child, Momtaj’s son now accompanied her when she begged. With whatever amount of money she got, she tried to take care of her son. “I couldn’t even clean my child when he passed his stool,” she wept, recalling those dark days. “I couldn’t wash him, couldn’t bathe him. And I was always afraid of losing him. I had never felt more helpless.”
Momtaj was discovered by Program Officers of SAJIDA’s Amrao Manush Program as she lay on the street with her child. She found out that the SAJIDA operated Pavement Dweller Centres equipped with day care centres for people just like her. It was the answer to her prayers. Morsalin was 2 years old when he was enrolled in the day care centre of SAJIDA’s Pavement Dweller Centre in Maniknagar. He is now almost 3 and in daily care of the program staff, getting proper food, water, sanitation, education, healthcare and shelter. Momtaj no longer has to worry that her child will be
stolen. She avails all essential services from the Pavement Dweller Centre, and has also started saving money there for her son, so that he doesn’t have to face the kind of difficulties she did. “He is my whole world. He is all I have,” says Momtaj. “I feel so much joy when I hear his voice, and hear him speaking politely with others. He is learning so much. I hope that someday he will be a big officer and take care of me.”
Mothers In the Margin: Overcoming Adversity
Mothers in the Margin – ii