Orphanage a residential institution for rearing up children whose parents are dead or financially insolvent. In Bangladesh, most of the orphanages are supported by zakat money or any other religious endowment. The lexicographical meaning of 'orphan' is a state of loneliness being neglected and demonstrated lack of proper cares. Orphan is a boy or girl who lost his or her father in childhood and as such was deprived of his affection. In Bengali, orphan has a synonym, Anath. It means helpless one who does not have anybody to extend help, protection and support. In Islamic culture, children who lost their mothers before attaining adulthood are termed as Azizyu. The period of orphan life ends with the attainment of adulthood. In Islam, strict directives have been given to take special care of the orphans. One of the most important social problems in the initial days of Islam was the rearing up of orphans who were deprived of their fathers' affection.
Many orphanages were established in Bengal as safe shelters for rearing up the orphans both at individual and collective initiative. These orphanages are being conventionally managed by either the contribution of any individual or the fund raised collectively from zakat money. During the British rule, the provision for granting endowment from the government exchequer was introduced to run orphanages and shelter homes for the helpless, Anath Asram. In Bangladesh, at present, there exist two types of orphanages like Lillah Boarding, an orphanage attached to a madrasah, and the independent orphanages having provisions for meal, lodging and education for its inmates.
Sarkari Sishu Sadan Moreover, there are government-run orphanages called Sarkari Shishu Sadan (Government Children Homes) which were set up under the Orphan and Widow Homes Act of 1944 to rear up, train up and rehabilitate the orphans in the society. The government set up such orphanages in district and upazila headquarters through the Department of Social Welfare under the Ministry of Social Welfare. Later these orphanages were renamed as Shishu Sadan or Children homes and at present, these are being converted into Shishu Paribar (Children's Family). So far the government has established 73 such homes throughout the country, where 9500 orphan boys and girls are being given shelter food education and training so that they can be rehabilitated in terms of proper socio-economic conditions. Moreover, the Department of Social Welfare took over the management of 1630 private orphanages in 1961 from the Department of Education. Later, these were also termed as Sarkari Shishu Sadan. A policy has already been formulated to run these organisations and to implement the programmes.
The Department of Social Welfare, as a nation-building organisation has taken up various programmes for the welfare and development of orphan children. The Department has been implementing many programmes for the welfare and development of orphans considering those as very sensitive and important to fulfill the requirement of the existing domestic law, constitutional obligations, and national and international commitments. Article 15 (D) of the Constitution of the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh envisages the nation's strong commitment to implement all national and international policies, programmes and protocols adapted for the orphans. The Social Welfare Ministry and the Department are managing all Sarkari Shishu Sadans and Shishu Paribars accordingly. Each Shish Paribar is comprised of small groups of orphan of different ages. Each of the group is kept under the close and round the clock supervision of an affectionate guardian in a family environment. In 2011, nine new Shishu Paribar complexes were set up and at present, rest of the Shishu Sadans are being transformed into Shishu Paribar. Orphan children from 6 to 9 years of age, belonging to poor families are eligible to get admission in the Shishu Sadans and Shishu Paribar. [AKM Yakub Hossain]