World Youth Day
Syeda Shamin Mortada
The sight the young woman beheld from the window of her room made her terrified, ashamed and speechless. She ran downstairs with the new red cotton sari she had received on her 18th birthday and a 500 taka note towards the exit of the house. There in front of her stood a young beggar, totally unclothed and uncovered. She was bare from head to toe. God have mercy!!! On receiving the garment and the money the woman started to run managing to cover herself at the same time, lest the valuables she just received be taken away.
But to her sheer dismay, the kind-hearted girl found the same woman in the same situation and the same place (her door step) after about four months or so. The beggar had come yet again, expecting the same generosity, probably believing that her benefactor had forgotten her. Let's not get into the detail about what happened next, but dwell on another situation.
The woman we are talking about now is in her late 40's and is all alone. She had recently lost her mother, only brother and husband to death and her two young sons to drugs and crime. Both the young men have been taking all kinds of drugs available since their teens and at the moment are hooked on the drug, Yaba. The youngsters have been in and out of jail for quite some time now. They stutter while talking, hallucinate when they are awake and have lost a good amount of sight and hearing not to mention their right state of minds.
This unfortunate mother now awaits the return of her sons' from the rehab centre in Mumbai, India. The family we are talking about here are quite well to do, and educated. They have it all or may be had it all jat, bongsho, poisha and morjada!!
The stories narrated above concern different classes of youth with different backgrounds and mentality. One is a responsible citizen who acted in the spur of the moment and did what she thought was best to save the honour and respect of another woman. The other gripped in the clutches of poverty was without any moral values or ethics. And there are the two rich brothers simply gone astray for the lack of love, discipline or maybe they were just given too much freedom.
Young people represent the future of any nation and channelling them in the right direction is the responsibility of the society at large.
For a developing country like Bangladesh, there are innumerable obstacles to this development. Poverty, ignorance, lack of access to education, malnutrition and the constant lure of drugs, lead to the destruction of many of our youth. There is no doubt that changes must be made at the policy level. Education must be free for underprivileged children. The quality of education needs major revamping with better educated, better trained teachers.
Then there is the problem of juvenile delinquency and drug abuse. Increasing numbers of youth from all classes seemed to have involved themselves in the world of crimes and drugs. The governmental organisations, NGOs, academic and private institutions can all play vital roles here. Media should also be encouraged to play active roles in this regard.
Coming on August 12th is World Youth Day. Let us all make a resolution to help our young people in every possible manner.
This will be possible if we join hands and work together. Meetings, rallies and forums can be planned and organised. Public discussion on youth and their issues can be held.
The young generation need to be encouraged and empowered to participate in the development process of the society. It is time they knew that the responsibility to bring about the prosperity of our country lies on their shoulders.
(R) thedailystar.net 2006