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Earthquake awareness
@ Sunbeams

WHILE you read the heading of this article, you might've thought: “What's the point? Not like the buildings in Bangladesh are crumbling down everyday from earthquakes!” Perfectly valid musing, actually. But just because Bangladesh does not have as many violent tremors as other countries, does not mean it is not prone to this unexpected and thoroughly destructive disaster. Being the lazy bunch of youngsters we are who often doze off in Geography classes (Don't lie. You know you do), a lot of us are sitting around with minimal information about earthquakes with absolutely no idea about how to prevent it or what safety measures to take during an earthquake. Think about it: what if you were in school and the building goes berserk on you? One teacher has to help the masses; which means, they can't exactly help you if you're clueless! To eradicate this ignorance and to prepare teachers and students alike, the eighth graders of Sunbeams School arranged an Earthquake Awareness Program, which talked in detail about earthquakes, their causes, effects, consequences and possible safety measures (and no, we didn't doze off because a.) loud mike! b.) It was interesting to hear what people my age had to say about this and c.) Who wants to die?)

The program was greatly contributed to by our Geography teacher, Sharifa Sultana, Mr. Iftekhar of the IT department and Niaz sir of the Games department. It would be unfair to thank only them because our chairperson, Niloufer Manzur and our other teachers supported greatly to this cause too. We had two special guests, who provided their fullest patience and lent out an ear to the amateur environmentalists a.k.a. the speakers.

The first speaker on stage was Uday Saha, who talked about what earthquakes really were. It helped us add more material to our definitions of earthquake. Next up was Raiyan Nafiur Rahman who talked about the causes of earthquakes. Raiyan mentioned how plate movements were the basic and most important cause of earthquakes. Zaima Shahzia Mazumdar told us the effects of earthquakes, which made us shake in our boots (er, sneakers actually). Fortunately, Arman Ahmed Shah came up and told us about the possible solutions for earthquakes (just when we thought we had no way out of this hell-sent disaster). He talked about how foundations of buildings should be stronger and construction and architecture should be earthquake-friendly, as well as the application of science and technology to help us out. The first part of safety measures was talked about by Amiya Nandita Dewan, which told us what to DO during earthquakes. She told us to stay calm, identify the safe spots in a room (basically, stay away from anything that might fall on you or things made of glass) and also beware of the dangerous spots, use the nearest stairway to evacuate, stick together, and prepare first aid boxes beforehand, switch of electrical appliances, carry out drills and most importantly, prepare. Sorry if I just made her sound like a mom.

Then came Farisha Rahman Khan, who told us what NOT to do in an earthquake. These included: running or pushing past each other, carrying any belongings other than first aid kit, leaving electrical appliances on, leave on gas supplies, using the lift (this is one dumb act that I'm sure most would do...”Yayy! Lift! It's faster than stairs!” Dude, It stops during earthquakes), staying under a roof, staying near gateposts or walls, trying anything rash like jumping off the roof (it's like running away from death to...death) and also not believing in rumours or spreading them (we're the literate ones, remember?).

Sumaiya Nehla Saif told us about the safety drills to be followed in school. A staircase planning was carefully constructed, and she told us which room should be used, which staircase and evacuate to, which openings around our school building. This helped a lot, because if we know this beforehand, during an earthquake it will bring more organization and better chances of safe evacuation. Finally Lamisa Shirin Hossain drew a conclusion to a successful awareness program. In between, the main guests had shared a word or two with us.

All in all, it was an awesome program. All the eighth graders had contributed by either providing information or making posters (team spirit!). The speeches presented information in an interesting way, and really prepared us for an earthquake if it were to strike.

By Prodhi Manisha
and Sumaiya Nehla Saif

Outside the Carnage

I didn't wake up to the sound of gunfire and choppers, nor did I have to crouch in my home for safety. I woke up to the bustle of activity that our homes acquire in the morning, the mixture of drowsiness and work that our days usually begin with. I went to school and attended my classes until rumours of the happenings outside began to unsettle us.

Before we knew it, children were being collected from school and whisked to the safety of their homes by their parents. I turned my computer on and began to gather what news I could from the Bangladeshi blogs and newspaper sites. At the same time, we were swapping from one Bangla TV channel to another, as the news about the unrest filtered through.

We understand that there were problems- that the BDR had been having difficulties for sometime and that they have various grievances. Even though we cannot pretend to understand all their difficulties of everyday life, we certainly sympathize with their problems.

What we do not sympathize with, however, are the mass murders, the torture and the general cases of sufferings and loss of lives. There were ways that the issues could have been handled peacefully and we all know that. Had peaceful methods been adopted, the BDR would have been praised for showing remarkable self-control and patriotism in the face of distress, because that is surely the true test of a soldier?

The BDR has been protecting our border for years now, but the heinous murders have ruined all their good deeds for everyone. Then how did this mutiny help their cause at all? What will the children, the parents, the wives of the dead do? I have been on the TV and on the computer constantly for days now, refreshing pages of websites every half an hour and haunting Facebook for any news of the mutiny I can lay my hands on.

The divers and rescuers who dragged out the killed from manholes, underground and sewerage pipes, we salute you. The people who came together to take the responsibility of taking complete strangers to the hospital because they were fatally wounded and the people who helped protect the innocent must be hailed for the efforts they have taken even in the face of death.

At the same time, some people have now lost it. They are now demanding that all the soldiers of BDR be punished. How is that even a reasonable demand and how is that different from the soldiers who went on a killing spree?

We all want the soldiers who killed to be punished, the newspapers have highlighted that not all BDR soldiers were involved in the matter, even stating that there were BDR soldiers who helped many victims escape, so how can punishing the innocent soldiers be even commended? We cannot dehumanize the whole BDR force just because some soldiers chose to stray.

I cannot pretend to know what distress, what fear, what pain the residents of Dhanmondi and the family members of the killed concerned have gone through sitting in my home in Baridhara. But I want them to know that we care- at least most of us do, and we are deeply, deeply sorry for the mess. We are all countrymen, after all, and nothing can excuse the fact that some people among us forgot that. We need to come out of this, and to do this we need to be together. Enough said.

By Anika T

Paper Dolls

ONCE, you promised me that you would never ignore me. I told you not to make promises you can't keep. But you said you'll never break it.

But you did.

I went out at night and bought a razor blade. Then came back to my room, dragged it across my left arm, watching as scarlet bloomed to the surface.

I texted you,
“I don't like myself either”

I never knew how you felt. Because I didn't answer your calls.

There was something beautiful about the rain, and on stormy days, we both would watch the lightning strike and hear the thunders fall.

But now I stay alone. When it rains, I go out on the streets, letting the sky waters saturate my t-shirt and soak through my bones.
It hides my tears.

Being with you, I learned a lot of big words like,
“quintessential” and “superfluous” and “agoraphobia”.

I decided that I was probably a little agoraphobic
because whenever I was without you, I was a nervous wreck.
But maybe that was just the whole 'love' thing and not an anxiety disorder.

Have you heard stories about little girls with orange lantern cheeks and eggshell lips? I call them paper dolls.

At the end of each one, the paper doll girl wouldn't find her prince,
Her heart would flicker and fade like dying lights.

I decided you weren't my paper doll. That's when things started to crumble.

You started to let go off the hand you've been holding.
“Don't go. I don't want to lose you”
“You already lost me”.

Few days after you left me, I wrote this.

I was going to send you this, but I forgot. It's still on the corner of my desk collecting dust.

I wouldn't know where to mail it anyway.
I still haven't found you.

By Raziel



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