|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 33, Tuesday February 22, 2005|
Social work: A calling?
The Sufis question: 'Is this what I am here for?' 'Is this the best I can do?' Indeed there comes a time in everybody's life when they seek answers to such conundrums. The motivations are aplenty-- they could be disillusioned with the existing materialistic way of life, have more leisure time or grown up children who no longer need full time attention.
Against this backdrop, working for the needy and marginalised fills a lacuna in many people's lives. What's more, even the younger generation has embraced the cause of the underprivileged through school programmes for fund raising and education.
Here's a glimpse of a low profile person and institutions for which social work has become a calling:
Gunasekara, pianist and music instructor
Shanta focuses on the health sector in various ways. Along with donations to organisations and individuals, she has sponsored doctors to provide medical aid to the residents --ranging from small babies to old people--of the Mother Theresa home and Shishu Bhavan in Dhaka.
Shanta also extends support to the needy outside Dhaka, such as Kaligonj. There also she works with the missionaries who run a small clinic for pregnant women. Sometimes she helps supply necessary things like clothes, cotton or medicine.
Shanta has also extended her hand to needy individuals. Among their ranks is a former freedom fighter who stands at the road and sells bananas. Eking out a living on the streets, his two daughters were victims of acid attacks. (apparently due to a marital dispute). Disturbed at this gross injustice against the women, last year she referred them to the Acid Survivors Foundation and helped with monetary support.
Music therapy, which she learnt in Russia, is another passion for Shanta. As she says, " I would like to do more music therapy, especially for the disabled, drug addicts or mentally disturbed children-like rape cases and the abused. Through playing the piano, singing, games and activities, the aim is to divert their minds and provide them inspiration."
Explaining the motivation behind her choosing the vocation of social work, she says her mother (a Catholic) used to extend help to poor people, go to orphanages very often and give clothes to the children. She also used to stitch clothes for the children for the New Year.
The other factor, which propelled her to take up the social cause, is wrong medical treatment by an unscrupulous doctor. As she explains, because of erroneous treatment for a gynaecological ailment by this medical practitioner in Dhaka, she could not have any more children after one daughter.
What about the younger generation's involvement with the social sector? "There could be a group of young people who are involved but, on the whole, most of the children don't have the time and are busy going for tuition and other activities. They are not given a chance or motivated towards social work," says Shanta.
Then there are clubs such as Habitat for Humanity (for the high school), and a club called Roots and Shoots which focuses on environmental issues such as deforestation and habitat loss. Grade 5 students learn about bird life in Bangladesh in order to promote awareness about loss of habitat.
The children also raise funds to help filmmakers Dr Haque and Dr Halder generate awareness about the need to protect wildlife in Bangladesh.
There are other elements as well: in Grade 4, the children from the AISD raise money for children who are physically challenged.
Another school that takes pride in its work for the underprivileged is Scholastica, Uttara branch. The school's Community Service Club (CSC) has a regular literacy programme in which student members of CSC teach underprivileged children. Scholastica also rises to the occasion whenever their help is needed. For instance, CSC members collected toys, children's clothes, saris, dry food and sweets from the students for the "Eid gift box" of Bangladesh Association for Social Advancement (BASA). This was done for the Eid-ul-Fitr of 2004. Likewise, in November 2004, four students organised several magic shows and a concert to raise funds for two cancer patients. These programmes raised Taka 1 lakh.
Clearly the drive of individuals and institutions to make this a better and more equitable world, will leave its imprint for future generations. In the meantime, even a drop in the ocean is cause for celebration.
By Kavita Charanji
They say 'Appearances aren't everything'. Well I disagree. It's common knowledge that people are attracted by beauty. And this explains why 'Chopati' is almost always busy and buzzing.
PROS: Situated just opposite the Prabartak entrance road to Sarson Road, Chittagong, 'Chopati' has been attracting attention from a relatively long time. It is sponsored by Oxford Telecom. Step inside and it seems like you have stepped into a different world. Artistically rustic, the interior is decorated in a 'Native American' theme, somehow transporting you back in time. The lighting is subtle and the tables are arranged to accommodate cosy groups of four. The music in the background is audible but quiet enough to enable people to enjoy conversations without too much effort. Being in a busy area, it guarantees good business.
CONS: The food could definitely do with a major boost, as it leaves much to be desired. Most of the time whatever you order isn't even available. Apart from offering very limited choices of fast food snacks, they also serve Indian chaats, dahi boras and so forth, thereby resembling 'Dhaba' slightly. Dahi Chatpati and fuchka were stopped after several customer complaints, and an insider confided that this was because they were buying the 'fuchkas' from outside, instead of making it themselves. The limited parking space can also be counted as a drawback.
All in all, the interior ambience makes it a nice place to visit if you want to meet and chat with friends, or just generally kill time. However, the quality of food ensures that this is not a place to visit if you are REALLY hungry!
By Jennifer Ashraf
Let me make a list.
So, disconsolately I give you another recipe today diary with my favorite seafood- prawn.
prawn in hot sauce
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