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  Volume 5 | Issue 36 | September 18, 2011 |


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After Class

Eid for Street Children 2011

Anika Binte Kasem

courtesy: Anika Binte Kasem

A question would often disturb me, “What have I done? What did I do for people?” Unfortunately shelves filled with crests, folders filled with certificates -- nothing could answer this question ever. Almost at the end of my student life, I suddenly realised that I have spent my life thinking about myself; my career, studies, family and friends. We keep telling ourselves that being a student, it is very difficult to get involved in social work; a few more months with these assignments, quizzes and midterms, then I would definitely do something for the country. However, that day simply never arrived, until one fine afternoon when some of my friends and I thought about celebrating Eid in a different way.

My friends Afsana, Wassi and Shuvashish, and myself; for us UNYSAB (United Nations Youth and Students Association of Bangladesh) has always been a part of our lives. On an afternoon last Ramadan, we were sitting with our Executive Vice President Erfan Bhai and were trying to plan our next projects. Suddenly we came up with a plan to celebrate Eid with street children. But all had doubts because there was not much time left. We finally decided to select a small number of children and began collecting a small donation for this. We came with a plan to arrange an Iftaar for the street children and then distribute Eid clothes amongst them. As it was already late, we thought we would be able to help 30-40 children. Although our plan was to collect around 20 thousand takas as donations, on the very first day we managed to collect over 50 thousand! I was literally jumping every time I was getting a phone call, getting a wall post on the Facebook event page confirming a donation. At the end of the day, we ended up collecting a whole lot more than we had expected. As a result we thought of a bigger plan, to help as many children as possible.

On August 26, we arranged an Iftaar Mahfil for some street children at the Dhaka University TSC. To make the afternoon much more fun, we gave them art papers and crayons to draw whatever they wanted to. They were jumping, screaming, dancing, drawing, and demanding for 'Michael Pants' at the same time -- a bunch of multitaskers at their very best! Thanks to Dhaka University for allowing us to use the TSC Cafeteria and my heartiest thanks to all the volunteers -- especially Fahad, Alif, Lakshmi, Nabila, Jafa, Sufian, Armin, Sajia for making everything so smooth. Managing 60 children is tough work!

Goodies for the underpriveleged.
Ccourtesy: Anika Binte Kasem

Now the hardest part; SHOPPING! We started the first day of shopping with New Market and Chandni Chawk. Haggling and screaming at the top of my voice, carrying hundreds of clothes, keeping track of money, fasting at the same time, wasn't simple. But when the shopkeepers came to know about our cause, they made our work much easier. I was overwhelmed with their responses. Some of the shopkeepers were letting us buy their products at cost prices! The next two days we continued our massive shopping spree on Priyangona Market. We were able to buy about 350 clothes in 3 days. Since we still had some money left, we decided to distribute shemai. We made about 150 packets containing shemai, sugar and powdered milk. My living room turned into a store-room with packets, bags, strings, tags lying everywhere.

On the day before Eid, we rented a pickup truck and planned to hit all the main traffic signals of Dhaka. Our journey started from Sonargaon signal. We, a team of 11 people, were too excited. What a journey it was! Children running towards us, jumping with joy after getting clothes, giving a heavenly smile after opening the packet, waving at us -- everything was picture perfect. We were able to cover Panthapath, Sonargaon Road, Tejgaon, Moghbazar, Gulshan, Banani, Mirpur, Dhanmondi, Agargaon and many more locations. When we gave out our last packet of clothes and food, we felt something we had never felt before -- an achievement we never thought we'd accomplish. We would never forget those smiling faces and those watery eyes. I was more moved when my colleague, Vice President of UNYSAB, Shuvashish said, “Our so called civilised society created two detached poles - rich and poor. But these little angels must not be affected by poverty. At least, never in the festive occasion of Eid.”

Loads of thanks to our event partner FYL and DUMUNA. We also thank all the donors.

(The writer is Director, UNYSAB.)

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