Most ultra-poor families in Bangladesh skip meals, and children living in single-parent families are twice as likely to go without. That is something ten-year-old Al-Amin, who lives in Vasantec slum in Dhaka, experiences almost every day of his life.
"For breakfast we often don’t get a loaf of bread, especially during the end of the month when we run short of money,” he says. "I go without breakfast when I'm at home but when I'm at school I get free biscuits.”
Al-Amin lives with his mother and three siblings. He admits he is scared of growing up in this poor community. “Often at night, the local criminals bang on our door, throw boulders on our tin-shed roof and threatened us. They ask for money, and as we live on my mother’s meager income, we can’t afford to give any,” he says.
Amin’s father has remarried and left Amin’s mother and her children without any support.
Al-Amin, his two elder sisters and younger brother ended up living in the slum with their mother when they were evicted from another nearby slum area two years ago. He says he feels "sick" at the thought of a future with no money to continue his education.
"I was sent off to a house where I worked for eight months as a domestic help and got 600 taka (about US$ 8) every month,” he says. “My mother couldn't afford to keep me with her at that time.”
Al-Amin, though, has some good news. He is going to school regularly now – a two-minute walk from his house, where he gets nutritious biscuits every day when he attends school. WFP, with the support of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), provides the biscuits.
"I think my life will be much better now. I can read, write and spell well now. This will help me to fulfill my dream. I want to be a doctor,” says Al-Amin. "I don't know whether all kids like me get biscuits in school, but I do, and I am grateful for this."