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07/03/2022 Bangladesh (International Christian Concern) – This week, on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, the government of Bangladesh honored a Christian-run rehabilitation center for its ongoing work to help addicts overcome their struggles. On behalf of the government, the Home Minister of Bangladesh, Asaduzzaman Khan, presented a crest of honor to the Bangladesh Rehabilitation and Assistance Center for Addicts (BARACA) and two other organizations. The director of BARACA said, “We are very happy and proud because the government has recognized our work.”

Founded in 1988, BARACA was the first addiction treatment and rehabilitation center in the country. It has become a strong focus of Caritas Bangladesh, the social development wing of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Bangladesh, and has successfully served over 5,000 people at its four centers. In addition to its direct addiction rehabilitation efforts, BARACA also works to spread awareness about the harms of drugs, to improve risk reduction, to provide voluntary counseling and testing, and to run daycare and night shelters for street children. Over the years, 1,500 street children have found shelter at BARACA centers.

This and other impactful initiatives by Christians in Bangladesh—such as Caritas Bangladesh’s recent and ongoing aid to flood victims — represent the nation’s Christian community. As persecution against Christians in Bangladesh is on the rise, it is philanthropic efforts such as these that can ameliorate tensions between Christian and non-Christian communities. While only making up a tiny fraction of the total population of Bangladesh, Christians, particularly Catholics, are highly active—the Catholic Church of Bangladesh boasts its own university, more than three hundred other educational institutions, and around 100 hospitals and healthcare centers overall. We pray that efforts like these would further advance the Christian community in Bangladesh and would continue to win them greater respect and religious freedom.

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