Life Born in a Slum

Sajila is a working mother living in the Korail slum of Dhaka City, Bangladesh. She lives with her husband, mother-in-law and three children (two daughters and a son). Her husband cannot afford all the maintenance of the family on his own. So Sajila works as a labourer to help support the family even though she is pregnant.

Sajila was four months pregnant when the photo shoot for this piece began. She had to starve for several days during her pregnancy as her financial condition worsened. The poverty-ridden family were not planning to have their family extended; nonetheless, Sajila continues nurturing her hope to have another male-child this time.

They live in a small, suffocating room in a slum surrounded by a lake. As it is in most slums, there are no doctors or medical service readily available nearby. However, there are midwives, who administer pregnancy deliveries in Korail, but giving birth to a child under their supervision has led to the death of mothers and their children in the past.

Due to the family’s economic constraints and lack of proper medical service, Sajila is forced to give birth to her child under the supervision of a midwife. Sajila believes, if she has God by her side, she will make it safely, for all her three children have been born this way.

The death-rate at the pregnancy period in Bangladesh is 440 among every 100,000; highest in the world. Death rate at child birth is even higher. Since 2007, the rate is 151(either child or the mother) in every thousand. As for the children, the number is 61 per thousand. The reason behind this high death-rate is most of the child-birth in our country is maintained by untrained midwives.

Finally on the due date, Sajila gives birth to her child in another home under the guidance of a midwife. Without any modern facilities or medicines Sajila gives birth to a healthy baby boy. It might sound incredible, but Sajila walks herself to home with her son only after an hour of having given birth.