Creating Pillars for a Better World!
Raiyan Abdul Baten
What does it take to change the world? asked Jeremy Rifkin.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Now imagine that 30 volunteers are given two weeks (with a fixed budget) to change the country, if not the world itself. Sounds crazy?
The participants brainstorming on social volunteering.
CommunityAction (CA), a student-run non-profit organisation, started doing exactly this, from March 26, the Independence of Day of Bangladesh! In collaboration with The Dhaka Project (TDP), which is also a not-for-profit programme working for education and other basic needs, such as balanced nutrition food and medical support and service of 500 children living in slums, CA threw an exciting challenge to the members, called “Action: Essence of Shadhinota 2012.” The project was initiated by Maria Conceicao. The mission of the project is to contribute in making lifetime transition from extreme poverty towards a complete and rewarding life, focusing on the children.
The Action or the project aimed at creating thoughtful and committed citizens, thereby building stronger pillars in society and moving towards achieving the bigger picture.
The participants (almost all of who had little or zero field-work experience) were put in teams, each having a creative assignment to execute at TDP's school for underprivileged children, their families and their surroundings. They were given two weeks, till April 10, 2012, and a limited budget. They had to spend time with the children in such a manner, which would create a lasting cultural and ideological impact on them. They had to conduct a survey on the children's families and assist them to start a career. The participants also had to analyse the surroundings, work on environmental problems, equitable health solutions and come up with creative and meaningful solutions.
The project aimed at creating thoughtful and committed citizens.
Since the participants were new to the world of social volunteering, it was essential that they were trained before starting with the project work. An exciting workshop was arranged on March 26, 2012 to help them get started. Working in a team for an assignment required proper planning, goal-setting, developing working policies, establishing and monitoring proper distribution of responsibilities and much more. But while actually carrying out the tasks, all the primary estimations and course of work seemed to evaporate. Hence, the skill of handling any unforeseen situation was required. Later on, the teams, joined by three students from class nine at the TDP, brainstormed on ideas for their assignments and presented their work-plans, which were constructively criticised.
Interestingly, what is more important is the big picture CA aims to construct. The projects might be creative and exciting, but what is the use of a two-week-limited-budget work if it has no lasting outcome for the country? This is where Essence is unique: it does not offer high-class training sessions, but rather it provides an opportunity to the participants to use the skills taught practically, focusing on developing themselves as thoughtful, responsible citizens all the way. The whole process only makes sense once we achieve skilled and dedicated groups of social activists, experienced in field level voluntary work, ready to work to create a better country and a better world.
(The writer is an undergraduate student of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.)
This kind of programme can empower young people to bring positive changes in society.