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Against all odds: An exposition of perseverance

An age old proverb insists that one should rather teach a man to fish than give a fish to him, in way of offering support. The idea is to promote self-sufficiency as opposed to disbursing of aid, because charity in the long run is never self-sustainable.

The magnitude of this statement is further felt when dealing with some of the most neglected and overlooked members of our society. With Financial aid from UKaid and logistic support from Sense India, Centre for Disability and Development (CDD) undertook a project to allow the tactlessly labelled “disabled” people a glimmer of hope for their future.

Since the project's inception in 2008, the often hopeless looking journey has finally borne fruit. In 5 years, CDD has helped to make radical changes in the lives of 700 handi-capable people.

In order to bring this change to the fore, CDD organised a day-long fair at Banani Field, showcasing the strides that not only the project has made but also the people who were made part of the project. The fair showcased the creativity, perseverance and sheer determination of those who were successfully rehabilitated by the project.

Titled “Deafblind People: Against All Odds”, the fair brought to the limelight the power of a human being's will in defeating any form of disability, given the proper support and care. A H M Noman Khan, Executive Director of CDD and Magsaysay winner along with Project Co-Ordinator Sadaf Noori inaugurated the event. Numerous stalls and pictures lined the Banani Field, each having its own tale of perseverance to tell. The event gained even further prominence when Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's daughter and prominent activist for handi-capable people, Saima Wazed Hossain Putul, made a surprise visit to the fair.

The fair had quite a number of eye-catching stalls. The pictures displayed in museum style hangings told numerous tales of hardship and overcoming odds. Visitors remain lost in the pictures that spoke more than a thousand words on the struggle many of us will never face and will always pray not to.

Apart from the pictures themselves, there were also stalls showing CDD's numerous works in more than the 15 zillas where the project is currently operating. Some of the stalls' main attractions were those afflicted by Deafblindess, a condition in which a person has difficulty with speech, vision and hearing among other additional conditions. One such girl had the time of her life, joking and laughing with the audience who encouraged her. The heart-breaking beauty of the scenario wasn't just the girl's entire conversation taking place in gestures but also her muted laughter, coupled with the evident hope and joy in her eyes.

Torikul Islam, the best evidence of one who has overcome all odds was also present. A celebrity in his own right, Torikul, with the aid of CDD, has now become a successful shopkeeper, who does all the work on his own, despite being Deafblind. A day care centre also showed how children afflicted by this condition can be supported to lead normal lives, via the help of the feeling of touch and associating that feeling with certain objects. Thus, when hungry, a child could pick up a spoon or a key or whatever it is that the child associates with a certain feeling. Another stall displayed the numerous technological advances and assistance-providing devices the project has innovated. Self-support walking sticks, prosthetic legs were all on display, although limited supply prevented them from being sold during the event. However, they did provide hope of a change that could be felt in the air throughout the evening.

CDD could have taken the short-cut path and provided monetary allowances to the dependents for as long as the funds poured it. Instead, it opted for the harder but more rewarding route by turning cash into incentive and adversity into opportunity. Visitors to the fair left a bit wiser than when they came in. The event managed to do what it planned to do and for one day turned everyone's attention to those many of us forget to give a second glance towards.

By Osama Rahman
Photo Courtesy: Centre for Disability and Development


The rise of the Phoenix

A fair complexioned beautiful girl; her loose long hair shades part of her face as she stoops at a side of the sewing machine to adjust the buttons. From afar she is just another ordinary girl with a pretty face but as you go close to her, you see the disfigured face with pencil drawn eyebrows.

Ayesha Akter, 26 was only a student of Class VII when her distant maternal uncle threw acid on her face and distorted it forever. Ayesha's father did not give his consent to the uncle's proposal to marry Ayesha and foiled her uncle's plan to get his hands on their property. Acid was his revenge.

She looked straight into my eyes and told me her story with no remorse at life.

“If you believe in destiny, then this was written as my fate and there is nothing anyone could do to change it. You people can see my pain and my agony, for which you feel sad or feel pity, but I tell you, almost everybody in my society has traumas and personal demons to deal with. They cannot tell you because they are ashamed, they live with their tragedy. Just because you can see mine written on my face and body you feel upset.

“After my accident I meet a lot of people and not everyone was kind, but this is my reality; if I sit and brood about it I will not go forward in life. I do not want to sit home and live on others' mercy as the girl who was burnt; instead I want to live life to the fullest. I am happy and content with where life has brought me now. I have a beautiful three-year-old daughter who is the apple of my eye, a husband who loves me and in-laws who accept me. I am living a fairytale life if you consider the stories of other girls in our society,” Ayesha says at one go as if forewarning me that sympathy is the last thing she needs.

And in saying so, Ayesha made life's hardest lesson absolutely easy for me. Will power, perseverance and determination are the things needed to deal with the downs of life. I give up so easily on things and accept defeat almost as soon as I face a crisis.

The sheer agony of living with a burnt body and a disfigured face has given Ayesha an inner strength that is unparallel to any other and she rose from the ashes of her burnt childhood dream of being a teacher to be a pressure garment maker. She came to Acid Survivor's Foundation three days after her accident in 2000 and after going through countless operations, counselling and rehabilitation sessions, and court cases, Ayesha was given training in ASF Tailoring Project in 2002 and she is one of two specialised tailors who can make pressure garments. The use of pressure garments is important for burn patients to retain the mobility of their joints and to avoid possible deformities.

Recently I met Ayesha while I was visiting her workplace and after talking for a while our conversation led to the twists of fate and living life at its cruellest end. She with her easygoing and unbreakable approach towards life taught me a hard lesson in the simplest manner and I thought I would share it with you all.

You cannot change your destiny but you can most certainly mould it and make the best of life.

-- Raffat Binte Rashid


Oh! Calcutta unveils new menu

What sets Oh! Calcutta apart from the hoards of eat-out places in the capital is its cuisine. It boasts a wide range of Bengali cuisine; specialties from both our part of Bengal and West Bengal.

On the occasion of Christmas and New Year, Oh! Calcutta has introduced a new menu titled “New on our Chef's Menu”. The menu was inaugurated by the franchise owner Ashish Kejriwal. Talking about Oh! Calcutta, Ashish said, “We in Bangladesh have grown very inclined towards foreign cuisine. We forget just how delicious, sumptuous and diverse our local cuisine can be. That is why we have brought Oh! Calcutta to Bangladesh.”

The menu consists of items which are both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Among vegetarian dishes you will find tomato and mint sorbet, roasted corn soup, chana kofta, paneer butter masala, black daal. Among non-vegetarian dishes you will find Mymensingh's chicken roast, tandoori Pomfret, Pomfret in gravy of your choice among many others. All the dishes are made according to Oh! Calcutta's special recipe, keeping in mind the nutritional aspects.

Laser Treat's latest offer

Looking for ways to look a few years younger, reduce wrinkles and add volume to your facial features? Laser Treat's latest offer on Filler and Botox may just be the answer.

Both these procedure are known to give wonderful results, which can reduce the flaws in your features and make your face glamorous.

As we age, the muscles of our skin lose their firmness and thus produce wrinkles. Botox adds tissue to these diminished zones, resulting in a 'fuller' appearance.

Botox is the standard procedure for diminishing wrinkle lines and is primarily used on the upper regions of the face; however, they produce equally good results in the lower portions.

For details on the procedures or to set an appointment, contact: Laser Treat, House 32, Level 3, Road 11, Block G, Banani. #0175 001 0020, 0175 001 0030

The 3 minute miracle

Procter & Gamble Bangladesh (Pvt.) Ltd, the local wing of the global leader in consumer goods Procter & Gamble (P&G) have launched their new product series Pantene 3 Minute Miracle Treatment, in Bangladesh.

Recently they launched the product series in selected outlets of Dhaka. There were beauty consultants in the selected outlets who helped explain to consumers how this particular product can repair damaged hair within 3 minutes. The 15 ml tube comes with a price tag of Tk 150.


“The Beauty Shop” now at Gulshan

Representing the world's finest designer brands of fragrances, toiletries, cosmetics and skincare products, The Beauty Shop opened its doors for their customers in Gulshan on 29 December, 2012. With the tag-line “All best things under one roof” the 750 square-feet store carries an extensive range of products associated with beauty and personal care.

The range of products that they will carry includes Adidas, Playboy, Kenzo, Bulgari, Givenchy, Carolina Herrera, Nina Ricci, Paco Raban, Hugo Boss, Dolce & Gabana, Gucci, Burberry, David Beckham, etc.

Location: House13/A/2, Kamal Ataturk Avenue, 1st floor, Gulshan-2 (in between LabAid and Spanish Embassy). Contact: 0173 007 7066.


Spend your money wisely

By Nasreen Sattar, Former CEO,
Standard Chartered Bank, Afghanistan

'Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving' -- Warren Buffet

I was at a dinner the other evening and met up with friends who are readers of my column Penny Wise. I was amused when they said 'you always write about saving money, how about teaching us how to spend money without losing our savings?' I thought it was a very good question and a very good suggestion indeed!!

We have only one life and what is the point of living it if we are not doing things we enjoy… I have written many articles about different ways of investing your hard-earned money and today I will emphasise on how you can not only save, but spend too. I am not an advocate of 'shopaholics', people who buy for the sake of buying, store the purchases and forget what they have bought. Sometimes the items surface when a long forgotten drawer is opened suddenly!

You may be yearning to buy a pair of earrings, which you saw at the jewellers', but it costs a lot of money. What you need to do is start keeping aside a certain amount every month so that your expense and income does not become imbalanced meaning that a high purchase all of a sudden may result in upsetting other more important expenses. I am of course not talking of the 'super rich' people but the middle-class people with fixed incomes. On a previous occasion I had written about opening a separate account to keep aside money you may need to spend sometimes -- a dreamed of holiday or an emergency or maybe even a purchase like this.

The option of using a credit card is always there, but I am a strong believer that at the back of your mind you should always remember that the payment for the item purchased has to be done either in installments or at one go and whether you have the 'means' to do so. Always keep in mind that you are not compromising on other important expenses that you may have to make.

It is a strange and unfair world we live in where people of 'means' can just walk into a shop and buy whatever they want to without even blinking an eye, but I think it is important to remember that a 'thing' that you have yearned for and have ultimately been able to purchase after saving for it has so much more worth and is something so much more 'valuable' that you will treasure it for the rest of your life.


2013: To change or not to change?

By Karim Waheed

A year gone; another has begun. Will this year be “lucky 13” for us? We have no clue, but with dogged determination we can sure as hell try to continue with the smart life choices we made last year, or make new ones. In this instalment, I'm going to cover two essential elements in any exercise programme.

The best way to illustrate the importance of these two elements is to think of a time when you may have been stuck in heavy traffic. You're just creeping along at a snail's pace, or maybe you're not moving at all. You're frustrated and all you want to do is get to your destination. Suddenly you notice that the traffic in another lane is moving a little faster. You put on your blinker, hustle your nose into the lane and after a few tense moments you are in the other lane.

You cruise along for a few feet and then stop, only to find the traffic in your previous lane starting to move again. Once again you go through the song and dance to switch lanes only to move a few more feet until you stop. You're doing a lot of work and stressing out, but you're barely making much headway.

We've all been in this sort of situation and I'm not just talking traffic, but also within our exercise journey. We make changes, we hustle our tail off and we bend over backwards to adopt new strategies. It's fun to make changes, but it's frustrating when we look back and realise we've hardly made any progress.

Enter the two essential elements that practically ensure we will reach our destination with minimal stress and frustration: Consistency and Progression.

Let's start with consistency. I like to think of it as the glue that makes all of the parts of a healthy lifestyle fit together. Unfortunately, there are a lot of theories within fitness culture that actually discourage consistency. The basic idea is that the body changes or adapts when changes in diet or exercise come its way. So if you want to prevent your body from changing, the best thing to do would be to keep doing the same thing over and over.

It does make sense. After all, people say that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is insane. They also say that if you do the same thing all of the time you're going to get the same result. So, change is good right? One week you do yoga, the next you dabble with weights. Then you take up cycling and to really shake things up you start some trendy detox routine.

Apparently keeping the body confused and unsure of what's happening is a good strategy towards telling it what to do. But does that really make sense? Is creating chaos and confusion really a good thing? Just think of a time when you were confused and unsure of what was happening. How successful were you in making good things happen?

I'm all for variety and change, but every fitness success story is built upon a solid foundation of consistency. Talk to anyone who has a very fit body and you'll find an almost boring level of consistency within his/her game plan. You'll find people who jog 15 miles a week. The guy with a super wide back has been doing pull-ups for the past 8 years. The lean and toned woman has stuck to the same basic diet rules for over 20 years.

The biggest secret in fitness is that the most toned bodies have been built upon some of the most boring and mundane programmes. The exercises are every day staples like running, pull-ups, squats and push-ups.

But consistency alone won't get you very far. This is why the second element is so important. The element of progression. The body doesn't change because you do something different. It changes from doing what you're already doing better.

When you make a change in what you're doing it's a shot in the dark. If you give up running and take up kickboxing that may or may not be a step forward in your weight loss goal. Progression on the other hand is much more certain. When you do what you're doing better, you know for a fact that you're making headway.

To progress, you must enhance one of the following:

The frequency of the activity. Simply put, you do more of the activity over time. More reps, more sets, more workouts, more miles.

The intensity of the activity. Add weight or add speed. You can also change the leverage of the exercise or work more against gravity.

The technique of the activity. You can always improve your skill at doing anything from weight lifting to even stretching. Improve your technique and improve your results.

Notice that all three aspects of progression are about doing what you're already doing a little differently.

Consistency and progression together will bring you success with 100 per cent certainty. It may not be quick and it may not happen without any setbacks. But as long as you apply these two, you will ultimately attain that level of fitness.


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