Every morning, Bonita feeds her children breakfast and walks them to school. Since the school is so far away, she stays until they are finished, then the family walks home together. Bonita’s husband, Hilton, is a fisherman. He was in a bus accident early last year and saw several people killed. He was left shocked and traumatized and now suffers from ongoing back and chest pain. Although he can no longer do strenuous labour, he works through the pain to feed his family. Bonita, Hilton and their two children, Likhon and Likhia, are among the poorest families in their village in Bangladesh.

ChildCARE Plus Bangladesh

ERDO’s child sponsorship program, ChildCARE Plus (CCP), has been in Bonita’s village since 2010. The program is run by the local church, the Pentecostal Assemblies of Bangladesh (PAOB). PAOB knows each family in the community and desires to care for its neighbours regardless of their religion or financial status.

Although Bangladesh has one of the fastest growing economies in the world and is working to reduce poverty, 1 there is still a lot of need, especially where Bonita and Hilton live—in a village accessible only by river. Families in our CCP communities struggle with high unemployment and malnutrition. Many children are still in need of food, clean water, health care and education.

Although education is free and mandatory for all children in Bangladesh, many children do not meet the minimum education requirements to start primary school, and their parents cannot provide a basic education at home. Other families are too poor to send their children to school as both parents must work.

The Local Church and Community Development

At ERDO, we often say the church is the greatest agent of change in the community. When we empower the local church to reach beyond its borders, bringing tangible relief to people in the community, we can see the love of God in action.

We desire to have people point to their local church as their source of help, hope and healing.

The PAOB recognizes that the needs of children and families in these rural areas of Bangladesh are great. Together, we have helped the church establish community development programs that work hand-in-hand with child sponsorship. One major component is a feeding program that runs alongside child sponsorship. The primary school students receive in-school meals, while the secondary school students come for weekday lunches.

When ERDO cannot find a Canadian sponsor for a child to join CCP, the church supports children in need within the community. Likhon, Bonita’s oldest son, was in child sponsorship for three years before he was officially sponsored through ERDO, but he did not miss out on the benefits of CCP. In this way, the church is giving more and more children from the community an education.

Knowing many young children were being turned away from primary schools, the PAOB started a preschool program. This program gives children the groundwork they need to meet and exceed the minimum requirements to enter schools in Bangladesh. Likhon’s little sister, Likhia, attends the church’s preschool program. The church employs teachers who genuinely love their students. When a child misses school, the church sends someone to their home to make sure the family is doing well and to see if they need any help. We call this church-based community transformation, meaning that the local church is empowering the whole person with the whole gospel to transform lives, freeing them from physical and spiritual poverty.

ERDO listens to churches as they explain the needs of their communities, working with them to establish projects that will bring tangible help to families. In Bangladesh, we’re providing food, clean water through a new well, and humanitarian relief to assist even more families in need. Alongside ERDO, The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada’s (PAOC) Mission Global is also partnering with the church to reach families in the area.

Training Leaders

One of our PAOC global workers has been in Bonita and Hilton’s village since January 2023. This global worker2 is partnering with mothers, community leaders and teachers, empowering them to identify and find solutions to the needs in their community.

Together, they meet once or twice a month and go through a curriculum called Community Health Education (CHE). This curriculum uses story-based sessions, role play, guided questions and other engaging methods to lead people to self-discovery. Bonita has joined the CHE training and is on her way to becoming a leader in her community!

Last fall, our global worker took 24 CHE leaders from this small village to the capital city in Bangladesh for more training. There, the global worker was joined by another global worker, Matthew Price, who wanted to see how he could implement what he saw and heard in his own field, Thailand. He said, “The CHE model allows us to learn alongside one another, both participants and trainers. We gather not as experts and novices, but rather we come around the circle with distinct gifts and insights and skills. We see that not only has God given us local resources and skills, but also that we are the hands and feet to put those assets into action. Seeing participants shift their mindsets from recipient to active change-maker is a true joy. The change they’ll create in their community will impact deeper and last longer than anything an outsider could bring.”

One CCP mother who had joined the group was Shodu. She felt out of place in a group being led by the local church, as she was not a Christian. After hearing the story of the Garden of Eden and learning how everyone is created in the image of God, she responded, “I learned that everyone is accepted.” Another mother heard the classic story of stone soup3 and said, “I learned about unity and that everyone has something to contribute.”

Through CHE, our global worker in Bangladesh is seeing mindsets transformed, and people are excited again about their community. Matthew Price said, “Often, the best way to support a community is to listen. In that community conversation you’ll hear that they already have what they need, even if they don’t see if yet.”

Together, we are bringing transformation to lives in Bangladesh. To support the work of ERDO and our global worker, please visit and give to Bangladesh.

Alicia Kolenda is the marketing and communications manager at ERDO (Emergency Relief and Development Overseas). This article appeared in the April/May/June 2024 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2024 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo © ERDO.

  1. “Explore All Countries — Bangladesh,” The World Factbook, CIA, accessed January 18, 2024,
  2. This global worker’s name has been withheld because they work in a restricted context.
  3. “Stone Soup: A Traditional Folk Tale,” Canadian Foodgrains Bank, accessed January 18, 2024,

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