Founded in 1946, the Bottomley Home Orphanage is now run by the Associates of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and houses 152 girls. For its director, the facility provides an education thanks to the good heart of local donors.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) - Bottomley Home Orphanage (BHO) has celebrated 75 years since its foundation.
Located in the heart of Dhaka, the orphanage has hosted girls and boys since 1946, the year in which Holy Cross missionaries decided to open a safe and welcoming home for Bengali children orphaned by the Second World War.
The Brothers of the Holy Cross ran the facility in the very central Tejgaon neighbourhood until 1970 when Sisters of Our Lady of the Missions took over.
Less than a year later, the management passed to Associates of Mary, Queen of the Apostles who are still in charge today.
"In 75 years of history, thousands of children were welcomed and received a good education thanks to this institute and to the people who have served it,” said Sister Mary Bijoya, who heads the BHO, speaking to AsiaNews.
"We are committed to supporting them in their growth and provide them with everything they need, such as food, shelter and education so that they can fully mature,” she added.
Before 2004, both boys and girls were housed at the orphanage. Today, only girls can stay at BHO.
For Sister Mary, at BHO since 2012, the home “is not just an orphanage,” but “a real family”.
“This is why we do not limit ourselves to giving them a good education, but we involve them in all areas of the management of this place, from daily prayer to cleaning the house, from gardening to household chores, plus all those manual crafts that can be useful once they leave.”
Currently, the orphanage has 152 girls and young women, most of whom have lost only one of their parents.
“It often happens that mothers come to us asking to take care of their children because they have been left without a husband and do not have enough resources (both time and money) to raise them.
When "Relatives, such as uncles, aunts or grandparents, are unwilling to help in this task, it is up to us to do everything possible to give these girls a future."
Financial aid from the Ministry of Social Welfare is always very limited so the Sisters have to rely on the good heart of donors, especially local people, since "donations from abroad are fewer and fewer.”
Most former BHO students have succeeded in life, both professionally and socially.
“I will always be grateful to this orphanage,” said one of them, Sumi Gomes, speaking to AsiaNews. Today she works for a multinational in Dhaka.
"In addition to my studies, I was given a spiritual and cultural education that allowed me to be successful in my life,” she noted.