Sujon was furious when he heard that his wife gave birth to another girl. He took it as a curse from God. He already had one daughter and one son.
Sujon is a simple day laborer. Maintaining a family of five is a huge pressure. He was anxious about his family’s future and the future of his newborn daughter. In Bangladeshi rural culture, a dowry is a burden for the parents of a girl. This practice has become a curse in the remote villages of Bangladesh.
In some cases, husbands throw out their wives for failing to provide dowries. Every year in Bangladesh, a large number of young girls are killed or commit suicide — victims of the dowry system.
A girl’s marriage becomes a matter of distress for millions of families in rural villages. The bitter experience of the dowry system has deep impact on the minds of new parents. Parents, mostly fathers, don’t accept a daughter because, in this culture, girls do not carry the family name.
Sujon was no different. He considered his newborn girl, Somapti, a long-term burden for him and his family.
So little Somapti started her life with rejection from her father. Sujon decided never to see his daughter’s face. Ignorance, superstition and the effects of a dowry system had hardened his heart. Little Somapti had a father, but she was virtually fatherless.
But the Bible says, “The LORD sustains the fatherless” (Psalm 146:9). And God kept His promise to this baby girl.
Somapti and her mother, Shefali, were soon registered in the Child Survival Program, where Somapti was given baby food, health care and lots of love from our staff. Sujon didn’t have to provide additional supplies for his daughter, something he was afraid of. The needs of Somapti and her mother were addressed and taken care of.
One day Shefali shared her story with Sushila, the Child Survival Program implementer. Her story shook the entire staff. Project manager Manik advised Sushila to have a conversation with Sujon.
Sujon was a little surprised that one of our staff members visited him. He knew that the church-based program was helping his daughter, but it didn’t change his mind about her.
Sushila spent time with Sujon and his wife, but couldn’t change his attitude. So Manik came to meet Sujon. Manik has a wonderful heart for children and he tried to help Sujon see what a wonderful blessing he had in his daughter.
But the father’s ignorance and stiff mentality hindered Manik’s every effort. When Manik saw that his efforts were in vain, he told Sujon,
“OK, let it be according to your wish. You don’t have to look after your daughter. We will take care of Somapti. Let us see in coming years whether your daughter is worthy or not.”
Manik left, but he kept in touch with Sujon. As the months passed, God moved Sujon’s heart and he realized the importance of his little daughter.
Today, Sujon is a wonderful father to Somapti.
There were a few factors that led to his change of mind, the most important being the commitment of Manik and Sushila.
“When I had my second daughter, I was very angry. I was thinking that I have to feed another mouth. At the same time, I was anxious because, when Somapti will grow up, then I will have to pay big money as dowry for her marriage.
“I didn’t want to see her face. But Manik and Sushila talked with me so many times. I wondered about their love and affection for my daughter. I realized if these people who are not my family members could be so concerned for my daughter, then, as a father, I have to be caring about my child.”
The moment Sujon realized the importance of his daughter, he became a new person. Previously, his wife, Shefali, had to walk a long way to attend the Child Survival Program. But now, Sujon carries his wife and youngest daughter on the bicycle and brings them to the CSP center on activity days.
It was Manik’s continuous attempts that made it possible for Sompati to have her father’s love.
“When I heard of Somapti and her father, my heart was broken. Somapti is such a beautiful baby, and she was deprived from her father’s affection.
“Through the Child Survival Program, we were able to bring changes in her and her mother’s lives. But she needed her father too. We unceasingly gave him counseling. The result is visible now. It is only because of this program that we can continue our counseling with Sujon, and God turned his heart.”
Through the Child Survival Program, we are able to go inside the homes of families. Fathers like Sujon are experiencing the difference when they see our staffers walking the extra mile for their benefit.
Baby food, medical support, care and education for mothers are regular activities in the Child Survival Program. However, a caring attitude and the love of Christ are bringing huge alterations in families.
Somapti is no longer rejected by her father. Sujon now understands that his daughter is not a curse but a wonderful blessing from God.