Standing in the Gap

When hardworking parents can’t meet their daughter’s needs, a church and a Texas family supply the missing pieces.

Sejoti Debnath, 8, lives in a rural village in Bangladesh with her parents and 3-year-old brother. While her mother, Beauty, cares for the children and keeps the home, Sejoti’s father, Pobrito, works as a rice farmer.

It’s hard, honest work — and the best Pobrito could find after losing his job at a nongovernmental organization a few years ago. Although farming usually keeps the family fed, it leaves little money for other needs like doctors, medicine and school expenses. Thankfully a church in their community and a Texas family have partnered with Compassion to stand in the gap for Sejoti.

The photo essay below follows a typical day in Sejoti’s life.

After climbing out of bed at 6 a.m. quietly to avoid waking her brother, who shares her bed, Sejoti heads outside to brush her teeth. She rinses with water she collected from a neighbor’s well in rural Bangladesh. Sejoti’s father is a farmer, and her mother cares for the children and the home.

After brushing her teeth, Sejoti finishes her homework on the front porch. “I like to wake up in the morning and study outside, as I don’t have electricity at home,” says Sejoti, who needs the daylight to see her work. “But the fresh air helps me study better.” Her parents help her with homework when possible. “We are not very educated,” says her father, “but we will do everything possible to educate our children and make them strong enough to stand on their own feet.”

After studying, Sejoti eats a breakfast of rice with milk and banana that Beauty prepared. “The children run about a lot when they are at school,” her mother says, “so I feed my child with sweet milk and rice almost every day so that she does not feel hungry during her school time.”

Sejoti’s walk to school takes about 15 minutes. She tries to get there early every day to spend extra time with her friends before class. Her sponsors — the Larsons of Waco, Texas — help cover the cost of her school supplies, uniform and other expenses her parents can’t afford.

After school, Sejoti rushes home to change out of her uniform and walks to her Compassion center, where she meets up with friends on the playground there. They jump rope, slide and swing before going inside to eat a filling meal, learn about God and get one-on-one attention from tutors. Caring tutors at the center, or “project,” commit to knowing, loving and protecting every child in their care. “I feel valued by all who take care of us at the project,” Sejoti says.

After classes and playtime at her Compassion center, Sejoti goes home to help her family with chores. She collects water from a well on their neighbor’s property two to three times per day. Their neighbors share the water with them because water from the well at Sejoti’s home contains too much iron and traces of arsenic. Her family will need the water for preparing dinner and washing up before bed.

Pobrito sometimes asks for Sejoti’s help with the rice harvest. She helps stack the crops in their front yard, and then sweeps up the debris left behind. By now they’ve worked up an appetite and are ready for dinner.

After joining her mom in the garden to pick vegetables for dinner, Sejoti helps prepare them by cutting off the inedible parts and putting the rest in a bowl. The meal she ate earlier at her Compassion center helps take some pressure off her parents to make sure she gets all the food she needs to grow and thrive. By the time she finishes with dinner, chores and homework — as the sun allows — Sejoti is tired and ready to get into bed. Tomorrow will bring more work, but her sponsors, parents, friends and tutors will be there to lighten the load.

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Standing in the Gap

When hardworking parents can’t meet their daughter’s needs, a church and a Texas family supply the missing pieces.

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