A study of BIDS in the year 2004 shows that there were 6,74,178 street children in Dhaka city of which 75% were in Dhaka city. Further A BIDS and UNICEF joint study (2009) reveals that the projected number of the street children in Bangladesh by 2015 could be 11,44,754. The founders of Ekmattra, the then students of the University of Dhaka during the first decade of the 21st century, were concerned about the results of growing unsafe migration of the children in Bangladesh due to the social injustice, discrimination, micro level poverty, family aberrance, natural disaster and the blind fascination to capitalism through the city life.
Ekmattra’s primary inception started back in 2003 through an in-depth observation of the plight of the rootless disadvantageous children living on the street in the most of public places of Dhaka city. Our observation revealed some shocking features of their lives. Living on street is not only the misery of these disadvantageous children; rather any opportunists take this gamble to exploit and abuse those children. They misplaced their childhood serving as different role including illegal trade like street sex workers, helping hands at restaurants, transport labors, rickshaw pullers, van-driver or bus assistant, street hawkers, drug seller and the like. One of the shocking matters is that they start begging when they had nothing to do or another way-out they have which is to involve themselves in many criminal activities or to become a victim of the gangs. In this effect, they become drug addicted severely. Basically these street children are being deprived of basic needs and privileges what they deserve as social being and they are going to grasp a dark world to survive them. Nonetheless, there are a few to stay beside them, to give them love, affection, care and to command them for their betterment.
In such circumstances, we, a group of the then students of Dhaka University became interested to contribute directly in resolving the misery of these street children. We tried to get closer to those street children and passed time listening to them. We tried to understand them to feel their grief, miseries and the uncertain future. We realized the inner risks of these children are at the brink of misuse and abuse. In this sensible ground, we felt a quick urge to do something effective for them. But at that time, we didn't have any major plan to establish an organization. We just started an open sky school for them. Our initial objective was to teach them basic skill-based education, health and hygiene education, and to provide them a piece of recreation by singing, painting or playing outdoor games, which might help them to ease the pain of their monotonous life. At one stage, we realized that they need something more beyond their basic needs like food, cloths, shelter and education, which is that a close mental support and mental attachment what people get only from family. In 2003, we extended our support to them with evidence and conducted a baseline survey on street children in Dhaka City. The findings of the study gave us a holistic picture and a compulsion to do something for those endangered children on street. We realized having no alternative to have a decent life this is the destiny of these destitute children. Existing social injustice and discrimination that gradually increasing has provoked them to sustain but as there is no way to sustain fairly, they are bound to grasp any unfair way to live. Therefore, we started to plan and trying to communicate with other who can support and contribute to materialize our dream. In 2004, we formed Ekmattra Society formally taking the registration from Joint Stock Company Act authorities of the Government of Bangladesh.
We organized meeting among us, expressing our views, thoughts and plans. The different spots of the Dhaka University were the venues of our meeting and discussions. We started with teaching children in Osmany Park, Gulistan, Dhaka. That beginning never ends further. Finally we opened up an office which including a shelter home for those children who were most vulnerable in the open sky school. We took our first office in Paikpara, Mirpur 1 of Dhaka after one year's hard work in the field with our open-sky classes. We had a very limited number of children with us and we started taking the best care of them. We moved to Rupnagar residential area in Pallabi to address the demands of a better and safer accommodation of our children. At present Ekmattra Children's Home has 40 children and all are going to formal schooling and pre primary school. Ekmattra believes that short-term initiatives can never change the lives of street children. So Ekmattra takes a long-term measure to care them until to reintegrate to the mainstream society.