'Operation Hope' and Sara Sidner win TV award
December 9th, 2013
04:58 PM ET

'Operation Hope' and Sara Sidner win TV award

Senior International Correspondent Sara Sidner has won a prestigious television award for her CNN Freedom Project documentary, "Operation Hope".

The documentary, aired earlier this year, was a powerful update to Sidner's original reporting in 2011 about a seven-year-old Bangladeshi boy who was viciously attacked, castrated and left for dead because he refused to be forced into begging.

"Operation Hope" was voted Best Social Awareness Program at the Asian Television Awards in Singapore.

Watch the documentary in three parts here
Topics: In The News • Operation Hope
December 7th, 2012
12:14 AM ET

How one e-mail changed a little boy's life

Editor's note: "Operation Hope" will air on CNN International on Saturday, December 8 at 0900 GMT and 2000 GMT. It will also air Sunday, December 9 at 0200 GMT and 1000 GMT; and Monday, December 10 at 0300 GMT. Once it has aired you will be able to watch it in full on this page.

(CNN) – It was a short e-mail - a few simple lines. It appeared in my inbox on May 12, 2011. It had been forwarded several times until it found its way to me.

"I saw a story on CNN a few days ago and can't seem to get it out of my head," wrote American businessman Aram Kovach. "I want to somehow help this little boy."

Click here to find out how you can help

He was referring to a Freedom Project report that aired on CNN a few days earlier. The story, filed by Senior International Correspondent Sara Sidner, was about a 7-year-old boy from Bangladesh who had been savagely attacked and mutilated by a gang that routinely kidnapped poor children and forced them into the streets of the capital, Dhaka, to beg for money, which they would then keep for themselves. FULL POST

A terrible lesson to learn
December 6th, 2012
01:29 AM ET

A terrible lesson to learn

Editor's note:  "Operation Hope" will air on CNN International on Saturday, December 8 at 0900 GMT and 2000 GMT. It will also air Sunday, December 9 at 0200 GMT and 1000 GMT; and Monday, December 10 at 0300 GMT.

(CNN) – It was the first lesson a taxi driver tried to teach me when I moved to India.

A woman cloaked in dirt-stained sari holding a child with a bandaged and blood-soaked hand knocked on the taxi window. She pointed to the child and held out her hand for money.

Filled with a combination of sadness, guilt and responsibility I began to roll down my window. “No madam!” my taxi driver implored. “This is very bad,” he continued, shaking his head ever so slightly. FULL POST

'Operation Hope' for maimed boy
December 6th, 2012
01:10 AM ET

From horror to hope: A boy's remarkable recovery from brutal attack

Now you can watch the whole of "Operation Hope", the documentary charting the amazing story of Okkhoy and the strangers who worked to help him change his life. See the video in three parts here

(CNN) - "You cannot die! You cannot die!" the father mumbles to the bloodied, mutilated boy who lies unconscious on his lap.

His hands press down on the boy's slashed-open stomach to keep the insides from spilling out. He sobs convulsively. "Listen to me! You cannot die!" he repeats his morbid mantra. "If for nothing else, to exact justice."

The two are on a rickshaw headed to a hospital in Dhaka. It's not the most effective way to transport a dying child through the cramped, congested streets of the Bangladeshi capital. But it's all that the impoverished father can afford. Hours earlier, four men had surrounded the 7-year-old boy, bound his hands and feet and cracked open his head with a brick. They held him down and took a switchblade to his throat. They sliced his chest and belly in an upside down cross. And in a final brutal act, they hacked him sideways, chopping off his penis and his right testicle.

Click here to find out how you can help

"It's amazing that he lived," a doctor would later say. "I'm really surprised he didn't bleed to death prior to getting to the hospital."

This is the story of a boy who not only survived, but is now the key witness in a trial that has forced Bangladesh to confront the cruel but overlooked practice of forced begging. It is also the story of strangers, half a world away, who set out to show the boy that good exists in equal measure as evil - and who set off a chain reaction of kindness to make him whole again.

FULL STORY

November 8th, 2012
03:28 PM ET

Coming soon on CNN: Operation Hope

In May 2011, the CNN Freedom Project highlighted the story of a seven-year-old boy kidnapped off the streets of Bangladesh by a criminal gang that, according to authorities, snatched children, crippled them, and then forced them to beg.

When this young boy refused he was beaten, stabbed and mutilated. His injuries shocked everyone. But one CNN viewer was so outraged, he took a stand.

He offered to help the boy, and triggered a chain reaction of goodwill that spanned the globe – and changed the boy’s life.

In Operation Hope, CNN Senior International Correspondent Sara Sidner charts the boy’s remarkable journey and the people who made it happen - complete strangers half a world away.

May 4th, 2011
12:07 AM ET

Gang profits from maimed child beggars

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -  Deep scars crisscross the frail body of a seven-year-old boy at the center of a criminal case that investigators say exposes “pure evil.”

His father pulled the boy’s pants down, wanting to show the injuries that fill him with rage and anguish. His son’s penis had nearly been cut off.

“They beat me. They said they would make me beg. They would kill me,” the boy said. “I threatened to tell my father and police on them. They cut my throat, they cut my belly, they cut my penis.”

They also bashed his skull with a brick.

Investigators say members of a criminal gang were trying to force the boy to become a beggar on the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.

FULL POST