Promiti Prova Chowdhury
Courtesy: Nabila Idris
'Discipline' was our Principal's key word at Sunnydale School. I was blessed enough to be able to study at two outstanding institutions like Sunnydale and Mastermind from where I did my O levels and A Levels respectively. I maintained a steady stream of grades. Not that I had no social life, but I knew how to balance both worlds. I am very lucky to have a bunch of friends, mostly from Sunnydale who were with me at Mastermind as well. However, things have now changed as my friends are in different parts of the world pursuing their goals but, thanks to social networking sites, we are still in good connection.
In Mastermind, I discovered my ultimate focus, which was to do community services. The Community Service Club of Mastermind played a huge role in my life. The first ever voluntary work which I got involved in was raising funds for children at Dhaka Shishu Hospital. There I learned my first lesson which was to sort out the actual needs of the recipients. We intended to provide them with medication but after talking to them we got to know that they are in need of some other medical equipment. This opened my eyes and gave me the incentive to do something for others.
Then I joined Bangladesh Medical College. In 2008, our college's Sandhani unit arranged a national conference where I volunteered along with Sohaila Ridwan, without whom CommunityAction would never be a reality. There we met a female cleaner who was crying because she was about to get married but did not have any good clothes. So we gave her a red sari and helped her with the wedding expenses. However, a year later we came to know the truth behind her misery where she was obligated to marry a married man for the sake of 30,000 taka needed for her mother's treatment. She was left with a child and physically abused by her husband. This incident taught us an important lesson and made us realise that we have a long way to go and a lot needs to be done before an actual change can take place.
Further on, MBBS is an intense area of study and you do not have any other option but to keep studying. In the middle of the programme I actually felt that being a doctor is not something I truly wanted. Rather, I would like to work in social policy making. So, encouraged by my husband (who thought I should apply for post graduate studies way before I finished my undergrad!), and by the kindness of Allah, I applied to York University in the United Kingdom for Masters in Social Policy and got accepted for the programme which starts in October.
I feel that in our country the government is a bit self serving when it comes to policy making. We have donors who make policies for us but in most of the cases it becomes dictatorial. We have to communicate with the recipients. Otherwise a gap will exist and the end result wouldn't be as worthwhile as desired.
As one of the founders and the President of CommunityAction, the matter which makes me anxious sometimes are the three mantras of CA-- to be moral, professional and influential. Now, one can be taught to become professional and influential but how can morality be taught to someone? Is morality a learned skill? For example, CA participated in an international competition where the prize money would go to fund a social business to increase literacy in rural areas. We were consistently in the top position, until our nearest competitor started to blatantly cheat with false votes. In such a situation, young Actioneers discussed whether it would be okay for them to cheat as well but with deep satisfaction I saw them reach a conclusion that it would be almost impossible for the Actioneers to be dishonest, no matter what the situation is.
As for future plans, after getting done with my Masters, I plan to return to Bangladesh and contribute in whichever way possible with my expertise and knowledge. For the young people out there, I would like to say that follow your passion. The best job is the job you enjoy the most.