Volume 2 Issue 51 | February 14, 2009 |


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From the Insight Desk

A Little Help Goes a Long Way

Saba El Kabir

On the January 31st issue of the Insight, we ran an article titled “In Need of Wheels”. The article was about the plight of Anjana, a paraplegic who had been forced into the life of an outcast by the callousness of society. She is the only sister in a family of seven. Anjana is the daughter of Pannu Sheikh of Dhakaliapara village under Kaliganj municipality. Her father Pannu Sarkar is a hawker and her mother works as a domestic helper. She is from an extremely under-privileged family, thoroughly rejected by society, and it would have been easy to understand if she simply chose to give up. But despite the extreme hardships of the present, Anjana still looks towards the future with hope. She is certain that she can raise herself above the seemingly insurmountable challenges of today through education and self-improvement. Anajana successfully took Dakhil (SSC) exams in 2005 and Alim (HSC) in 2007. She has also received training in operating computers through an initiative of the Sonar Bangla NGO. Yet, despite her life-long struggle to lead a normal life, she has finally come upon a hurdle she cannot overcome by herself. Anjana had failed to appear for her Fazil exam: she did not have a wheelchair.

Anjana's plight had a struck a chord among many of us. Pledges for support have been pouring into the Daily Star Offices. Two generous residents of Dhaka, Zahidul Islam and Shamsuddin, have sent a wheel chair and Tk 10,000 thousand for Anjana. A number of big-hearted men and women have pledged financial support to help Anjana complete her studies. Hearing about the level of support and sympathy extended by readers, Anjana told The Daily Star that she was beside herself with joy. Her mother Mini Begum prayed for the well-being of the generous donors and all those who pledged support from the bottom of her heart.

Another article that has generated a good deal of response from the readership of the Daily Star was published in the December 20th of Star Insight, “Handicapped but not Defeated”. It told the tale of three sisters suffering from stunted growth, Rupali, 26, Anjira 24, and Rehena, 15. Their story is similar to that Anjana's. The family has extremely limited means, sometimes failing to secure even two square meals a day for themselves. Ostracised by society, it would seem as if the sisters had all the odds stacked against them. Yet they remain defiant. They seek not charity, but the means to be able to contribute towards upkeep of the family.

On Sunday, 11th of January, 2009, at 11-30 a sewing machine and Tk 5 thousand was handed over to the family by Harinakundo Upazila UNO Abdullah Al-Mamun. A generous donor, who asked to remain anonymous, sent the sewing machine and the Tk 5 thousand to the address of The District Correspondent the Daily Star. Also present during the handing over was Kapashatia UP chairman Moznul Islam and Jhenidah Press club President M.A Ansari, ETV reporter Raihan Uddin, Prothom Alo staff reporter Azad Rahman, Daily Star reporter Azibor Rahman, Dainik Prabah reporter Tariqul Islam, Prothom Alo photojournalist Mominur Rahman Montu, along with the heads of the village. The sisters expressed their delight at receiving the support and can now look towards the future with new found hope.

These stories of the struggle of individuals in the face of overwhelming odds, and the generosity shown by strangers towards these individuals might seem isolated and few, but it is only because millions of such stories are not never told, and therefore remains unheard. In the vast spectrum of human conditions and circumstances that make up this nation, very often many find themselves pitted against impossible odds by the vicissitudes of life, desperately in need of a helping hand. And based on the response we received to the articles, the more privileged among us, those who are in a position to extent that hand, would often do chose to do so, but in order for that to happen, these stories needed to be told.

Since its inception, Star Insight has been trying to provide a platform where these stories can be told, and heard. Over the years, we have been able to pick up such stories from all corners of Bangladesh, and our readership has responded in kind with assistance and words of encouragement. The level of response we received for such stories began to reach such proportions that we often had to turn down pledges for support because the individual need had already been satisfied. We received repeated requests from many to form a trust so that instead of dealing with individual cases, we could be more proactive in helping underprivileged individuals throughout the country. Initially we were hesitant about taking on such a massive responsibly, the level of response to individual articles kept rising, and the requests to form such a trust kept coming in. Now it has reached such a point that forming such trust has become essential for us to be able to manage the pledges received by each successive article we printed about underprivileged women of Bangladesh. And so, we are now forming the Insight Trust that shall be working towards providing underprivileged peoples of Bangladesh with opportunities for self-development and sustainable employment. The first steps in forming this trust has already been taken, and we shall keep our readers informed about the progress of this initiative.

Another initiative being launched by the Daily Star is the Insight-Music & Art project and will organise classical performing arts events free of charge for educational institutions around Bangladesh. It is our strong belief that increased exposure of the younger generation to the classical performing arts a strong, confident creative voice. We have already obtained commitments from leading local classical performing artists for their pro bono involvement with this initiative and are expecting a number of international artists to sign up as well.

We will be encouraging the participation of all sections of our society, the business community, the student community, the media, to help us organise and implement these initiatives. If you would like to work with us, tell us about something that needs to be heard, or tell us about how you are making contributions in your own way, please get in touch with us. You can call us at 01917-707070, or email us at star.insight@gmail.com. Let us work together so our individual contributions towards the plights of Anjana, Rupali, Anjira and Rehena can help not just these individuals, but in some small but significant way, the millions of underprivileged members of this society as well.

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