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     Volume 4 Issue 25 | December 17, 2004 |

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A Glamorous Evening to Help Kids

Elita Karim

Dhaka's glitterati gathered together on December 9 at the Winter Garden in Hotel Sheraton. It was an evening filled with fashion, shows, dazzling outfits, delicious food, music and dancing. Well-known faces like Pakistani cricket heart-throb Wasim Akram, and the American Ambassador to Bangladesh Harry K could be seen minglingling with the other guests. But what was so special about the rich and famous having a ball till 3 am in the morning? All the elaborate arrangements had been made to raise funds for an organisation that helps poor kids live a decent life.

Utsho was founded by Leena Mahmud in 1993, who had the vision to help the children living on the streets to escape their scavenger-like lives. "I think we can have fun and still contribute to our society,' she said welcoming the guests.

The party, 'Utshob 2004', began after 9:30 pm, starting out with a show of designer Rina Latif's creations. But this was no usual fashion show since the models swinging down the ramp were women from various professional fields in today's Bangladesh, namely from the corporate world, education sector, arts, music, dance, theatre, TV drama and many more. Guests danced to the catchy tunes of Pentagon, a musical group that delighted them with familiar songs. Many paintings were also auctioned off to raise more funds for the organisation.

Ferdous Ali, the Chairperson explained that this event was specially organised to raise funds for the Utsho Biddya Niketan, a school for underprivileged children. 'We have this kind of an event every year, and this is the 6th annual show we are holding today,' she said.

Leena provided a deeper insight behind the whole event. 'We have a habit of always depending on foreign funds nation-building. If each of us today take up, at least the financial responsibility of educating a child on the street, I think we can slowly eliminate the number of children living hellish lives on the streets.

'There is tradition in the far areas of the village where I grew up. If a close relative died, it was the duty of the neighbours or the other relatives to take care of the orphaned children and take up responsibility for food, a home and education. So you see, this is actually within us, a part of our culture that we should really uphold and develop for the generations to come, in the future.'

That's exactly what Leena says she is trying to do through Utsho.. 'Today, we have a school for the underprivileged children, where many children have found homes, education and also a hope to live for. Their mothers are also being trained in various skills like tailoring and cooking so that they can at least have a little knowledge to support themselves in the future. If we can establish such centres in every city of the country, then gradually not only will the children live a life without insecurity, pain and uncertainty, but we will also be able to build a better country.'


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