Ruhi, 20 years old, is a committed Scout in Bangladesh. She has been a Scout for over 10 years and heavily involved in Ticket to Life (TTL) project for the past two and a half years in the capital city, Dhaka. Read on to find out about Ruhi’s story, learn about the Ticket to Life project and hear how Scouting has impacted her life and the lives of those around her in an interview with World Scouting.
As a troop leader and instructor of Ticket to Life, Ruhi is working hard to protect, educate and train street children to help re-integrate them into society by giving them better opportunities through Scouting.
1. Tell us about the Ticket to Life project and your role in it?
Ticket to Life Project is an Asia-Pacific regional project implemented by the World Organization of the Scout Movement to educate street children aged 10-16, (unprivileged, orphan, abandoned, homeless) through Scouting and thus integrating them back into society. Ticket to Life is present in five countries in Asia including Bangladesh. Besides teaching them Scouting, the project also aims to provide counselling, soft skills, teaches them about hygiene and health care, and raises their awareness on violations of human rights, and other social issues.
I’m part of Ticket to Life as an instructor to the children and I currently co-lead a unit of 20 children.
The project started in 2006 with only one unit in Dhaka, but has grown to have 13 units around Bangladesh and expanded into other countries.
I’ve been including some of the topics I learn at university into my trainings to these children, to share the knowledge that I am fortunate to get, with them.
2. What challenges are you facing in this project?
Currently I’m a student at university, assistant unit leader in my scout group and involved in Ticket to Life project . I have to find the right balance between all these activities.
As for TTL, the main challenge we face is integrating new children but also keeping them in Scouting.
These children are very poor, so their priority is to earn money, even if they really want to join us. We are also faced with the challenge that the children move from one place to another. There’s also the issue regarding the older kids that we still do not have Rover Scouting for these children after they turn 18.
But the biggest challenge I face as leading a girls’ unit, is the social issue of not wanting girls to participate in such activities that require them to go outside and engage in outdoor activities. The reasons behind this is fear for their safety. The social setting here can stop girls from chasing their dreams, where they fall under gender stereotyping and sometimes gender-based violence.
3. What is the general feedback you have been receiving about Ticket to Life project?
Ticket to Life is a successful project that is currently helping almost 400 street children in Bangladesh. Over the years, around 1500 children were part of the project but as dropout rates are high, it is challenging to keep track of the numbers.
When I share stories or projects on social media, people are inspired, they want to join the Ticket to Life project.
When girls outside of Scouting, see my unit and I engaging in community work and activities, they see us being active and enjoying our time together and this encourages many girls to join. Girls from my unit have also inspired friends and family members to join Scouting. This is how Ticket to Life project is helping Scouting to grow in Bangladesh and encourage more and more girls to join.
4. Can you tell us of one success you witnessed from the Ticket to Life project?
One of the children who benefited from Ticket to Life project is a great success story. He grew up in an abusive family, that forced him to run away from home to a life on the streets of Dhaka when he was seven years old. After one year of living in the streets he joined the Ticket to Life project with other street children, and has been part of Scouting since. Through the project, he later earned a scholarship and is currently in college in Bangladesh. He is known as one of Ticket to Life’s success stories and gets invited to speak at global events for Scouting. His dream is to become an aeronautic engineer. What a long way he and many others have come!
5. How does the Ticket to Life project contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?
The project answers to several SDGs. Because I work with girls, to teach them to be active in the community, it supports SDG 5 (Gender equality), SDG 4 (Quality education) and then there is SDG 10 (Reduced inequalities) because we are providing opportunities for vulnerable children. We teach them about human rights, violation and violence so also SDG 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions) is being achieved as well. We also raise their awareness about hygiene, sanitation and how to be healthy, so it supports SDG 3 (Good health and well-being). For the fact that TTL teaches children how to dream big and be successful in their future despite their position in the society, this project supports SDG 1( No Poverty) and SDG 8 (Decent work and economic growth).
6. How do you imagine the future of Ticket to Life? How do you imagine your future with Scouting?
I want to stay in this project all my life, I really love this project. I do hope that there will not be a need for it in the future because no more children should be living on the streets. However, I have seen the way this programme keeps these children interested and I have seen the positive change in them.
This programme and helping those children is one of the reasons I want to stay in Scouting.
7. How has Scouting influenced your life and the lives of other children?
I believe scouting is helping me and others in taking away some of the stress of studying. Scouting keeps me busy and allows me to do activities that serve my community instead of just sitting at home.
So that’s one of the main reasons why I chose to be a Scout.
I received the Presidents’ Scout award and I want to aim for more. I want to be a better Rover Scout so that I can help my scout group, the Ticket to Life Scout unit and my National Scout Organization. Scouting changes the lives of many children as well as elders and I see this through Ticket to Life project all the time. I keep developing my own skills so that I can teach these children the best way possible.
Source: World Scout Bureau scout.org