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   Volume 7 | Issue 09| March 03, 2013 |


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Youth in Action

Trash The Ash

Rupam Saha and Salman Sabbab

Young enthusiasts working towards removing bad habits such as smoking and drug abuse. Courtesy

Rashed (fictitious name) is a school going teenager from a well-off family in Dhaka. He is currently studying in class nine. He is loved by his parents and teachers. Besides studying, he likes to play cricket and guitar. He aims to be an engineer; his parents and elder sisters also share the same dream. But all on a sudden, everything has changed. Due to peer pressure, at first he started to smoke and later started taking drugs. Smoking and drugs destroyed the dream of the family.

There are many stories alike the one above. Smoking and drug addiction has become a burning issue in our social life. The tendency to smoke or take drugs is increasing at an alarming rate. And one of the crucial reasons behind this is lack of awareness. To address the issue, “Shonkhoneel”, a small group of the ninth season of Building Bridges through Leadership Training (BBLT) programme at Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC) took the initiative and organised four campaigns on anti-smoking and anti-drugs under the title “Trash The Ash”.

BBLT, now a four-month long programme, is the signature leadership training programme of BYLC. Three main components are building bridges, leadership training and community service. The first month consists of intensive classroom training on leadership and the next three months, participants work in teams to execute service projects in underprivileged communities.

Organising campaigns for street children. Courtesy

At first, we conducted an online survey to know the baseline scenario of the tendency of smokers as well drug-abusers. We found out that most of the people tend to start smoking between the age of 13 and 19 years. Most of the people tend to smoke due to curiosity, show-off and of course peer-pressure. So, we then decided to design our campaign to create awareness among the young generation. “PRAN MR Noodles” was our title sponsor and AMIC (Addiction Management and Integrated Care); a tobacco controlling organisation of Ahsania Mission was the strategic partner.

Our first campaign was held at Academia School, Lalmatia. There we conducted two sessions regarding the anti-smoking and anti-drug issues.In the campaign one of the members of our group Bushra Humaira Sadaf said in her speech, “If you don't waste your money on buying cigarettes, just think – how much money you can save to buy your necessary goods.” Our second campaign took place at Rajuk Uttara Model School and College. We conducted three sessions there. Each session comprised of speeches from the teachers of Rajuk College and our group members, presentation by the expert and was followed by cultural performances by the students.

Homegrown leaders will take the nation to greater heights. Courtesy

After conducting two campaigns in renowned institutions among privileged students, we reflected and realised that the severities of these addictions are dominant in underprivileged communities. The children in those communities grow up without any proper guidance and thus more vulnerable to those injurious materials. Then we planned to launch our third and fourth campaigns in two community schools for street children ran by LEEDO (Local Education and Economic Development Organization) situated at Rayerbazar and Sadarghat launch terminal respectively. Since those children are deprived of recreational activities, we organised those campaigns slight differently.

Today's youth will lead the future Bangladesh. So these homegrown leaders should have sound health and mind in order to think and respond better. Otherwise, these social hindrances can nip this prospect in the bud.

(Saha completed his leadership training from (BYLC) and is pursuing his Bachelor's degree at Faculty of Business Studies, University of Dhaka. Sabbab completed his leadership training from (BYLC) and is pursuing his bachelor's degree at School of Business, North South University.)

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