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     Volume 8 Issue 87 | September 18, 2009 |

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The Spirit of Ramadan

This Ramadan, Banglalink, one of the leading handphone operators of the country, has come up with an innovative idea

Ahmede Hussain
Children at an orphanage having iftar.

Last Friday, 30-year-old Dilshad Khanam, who has lived half her life in Saudi Arabia, got stuck in a bad traffic at the Farmgate intersection. The busy thoroughfare was teeming with the Eid shoppers and the traffic had come to a standstill. Dilshad was fasting and was worried as the time for iftar was approaching fast. It was then that a man, dressed in an orange Banglalink T-shirt, approached Dilshad's rickshaw to offer a water bottle and some dates.

The idea is not unique though. Business establishments in the Middle East and other Muslim countries follow such practises during the holy month. "I lived in the Saudi, where different companies offer water and dates to the passers-by, but I have never seen such practises in Bangladesh," Dilshad says.

Ahmed Abou Doma, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Banglalink, thinks it's a part of his organisation's policy to be socially responsible, to share joy with the people of a country in which his company operates. "The dates and water distribution effort is unique and practical too because when someone is going home right before or during Iftar, very few options are available on the roads and our little effort will go a long way in making that person smile," Ahmed says. Throughout Ramadan, Banglalink has set up 88 stalls in Dhaka, Chittagong and Khulna from where 90, 000 ordinary passers-by are being served with dates and water.

Banglalink has also reached out to the poor children who live in different orphanages in the country. This unique programme covers 9000 orphans in 45 orphanages across Bangladesh by serving them iftar and dinner. “Banglalink strives to make a difference in the lives of others. Through these initiatives we undertook something for people when they require it the most," Ahmed says. He says that the Iftar programme in the orphanages is something very close to "our hearts as these children deserve the very best and more so during the month of holy Ramadan”.

Ahmed Abou Doma, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director
of Banglalink.

On the 6th of Ramadan, Banglalink volunteers went to Noyatola Darus Salaam orphanage in Maghbazaar. "Because of this initiative I am having a sumptuous meal after so many days," says Azam, whose parents died four years ago in a car accident. The meal includes an iftar box, which has an apple, a banana, some dates and grapes, a cup of curd, a jelabi, some peanju, begani, muri and a kebab. The dinner, which was served a little later, had beef tehari with kebab and mineral water and juice on the menu.

"We give the orphans specially ordered fresh, nutritious food at iftar and the dinner is cooked in the orphanage premises by an experienced cook," Ahmed says. He believes that the programme is in tune with the true spirit of Ramadan, which is of sharing one's wealth with the downtrodden. "At Banglalink we think business and social responsibilities are entwined with each other. We respect the culture in which we work, and we always feel enriched in doing so," he continues.

Dilshad, however, has remained impressed. She has been a loyal subscriber of another cell phone operator; now the hand of kindness that Banglalink has offered to her is making her rethink her allegiance. New ideas always make a difference.



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