What we do
EchoStars Inc was established for the purpose of raising funds to give to the Bangladesh NGO SLUM..Society for Lowest Urban Mass, to complete the construction of the Bright Stars School in the Vatara Slum District of Dhaka, in Bangladesh. EchoStars works closely with SLUM to provide funding for the school and to develop other welfare programs to help the students and their families live a sustainable lifestyle.
While the school is still being built, it is functioning in the floors already constructed. It provides basic education for 150 slum dwelling children who live in grossly underprivileged conditions.
In the short time EchoStars has been operating BrightStars School has now completed four storeys. Funding must now be acquired to build the final fifth floor to construct a roof playground. EchoStars is now focusing its fund raising effort on finishing construction of the school and developing the sewing for sustainability program and the soon to be established medical centre.
As well as these 150 children, BrightStars School also accommodates another 70 children with special needs.
SLUM works in association with another NGO based in UK & the Netherlands. This Trust provides all the funding for the ‘Sanjeevani Centre’ which operates on the ground floor of Bright Stars School. The Centre specializes in providing specialist care and teaching support for special needs children.
Besides the gift of an education that opens hope to these children they are provided with basic medical care, a daily hot protein rich meal and best of all a place where they can be with other children and play and learn in a safe environment otherwise not available to them.
Rose Figtree, the founder of EchoStars has been travelling to Dhaka for many years and decided to start EchoStars as her way of helping in a lasting way. Through her travels she realized that no matter how overwhelming the issue of world poverty is for people living in developed countries, when you see it up close in the flesh the need to help cannot be ignored.
Without the desensitising effect of television the connection to the gross level of poverty that exists makes you realise that whatever you do is going to be better than doing nothing. So began EchoStars as her way of helping in a very tangible way.
The EchoStars committee members who work with Rose are:
- Robyn Kremer is a retired teacher who believes that access to an elementary education is a universal human right.
- Michael Williams is recently retired from a life in teaching as a Career Counsellor. He is committed to EchoStars goal in providing opportunity through education.
- Aliki Darlow – a lawyer
- Celeste Rosetto – a university lecturer
- Susan Hoffman – an extremely active Rotarian and committed humanitarian.
What better way to help make a difference than to build a school for slum dwelling children who have no access to education.
How it all started
Rose met an Bangladeshi educator Chitto Halder who was once a slum child himself but through the intervention of the mission schools was fortunate enough to receive an education and then to go on to receive a Masters in English from Dhaka University.
Instead of working in one of the international schools or major NGOs where he would have a good middle class income Chitto has continued to work with those children who most need a hand up and he has chosen to give back this precious gift of education that he received to other beautiful and deserving children.
His dream became my dream and together amazing things are happening to change the lives of many street children who would otherwise be little rag-a-muffins struggling to fill their bellies with no hope or future
Inspired by people like Chitto, Rose set about the formalities of forming a charity and began her fundraising.