Volume 2 Issue 76| February 13, 2010 |


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Journey Through Bangladesh

From Satkhira

Nalta Mitali Kochi Kanchar Mela
A celebration of 30 years of children's movement in rural Satkhira

Z.A.M. Khairuzzaman

ON a chilly winter morning in January, the people of Nalta Sharif, a remote union of Kaliganj upazila in Satkhira district, woke up to the sound of their kids eagerly making their way to a rally. On 9 January 2010, the grand rally originated from Nalta Ahsania Mission Residential Degree College ground, and went round the union before returning to the origin. Students of Nalta Government Primary School, Maor Ali Primary School, Askarpur Primary School, Uttar Askarpur Primary School, Bejubhati Primary School, Hadipur Primary School and Scouts of Ahsania Mission Residential Degree College and Nalta Secondary School took part in the rally.

The mammoth rally was organised as part of a two-day programme marking the 30th Founding Anniversary of Nalta Mitali Kochi Kanchar Mela, a children's organization which gained immense popularity among rural children since its inception. Minister for Health and Family Welfare of the Government of Bangladesh, Dr. A.F.M. Ruhul Huq, inaugurated the colourful programme.

Besides the rally, the two-day programme included a children's assembly, cultural programmes, dress-as-you-like contest, discussions, reception for distinguished personalities, video screening, musical soiree, and dance and solo drama performed by members of the mela. Students of Mitali Sangeet Bidyalay, local and guest artistes from Dhaka and Satkhira also participated, enthralling the large audience present on the occasion.

The kids represent a pool of untapped talent, but they don't have adequate opportunity to develop their talents amidst the hectic academic curriculum of their schools. The busy schedules of the parents keep them from spending quality time with their children, but these parents do want healthy, joyous and fulfilling lives for the children. Abdul Bari-Al Baki popularly known as Bari bhai, a torch bearer of the children's movement, created an opportunity for the children to come out of their shells and socialize. He established the children's organization in 1979 where children learnt to enhance their communication skills and simply made new friends. Bari bhai began his journey with a handful of members to build the organization, one of its kind at the time in Bangladesh. His view was to gear the children up as worthy citizens of Bangladesh imbibing human values and patriotism in them. Dada bhai of Kochi Kachar Ashar of the Daily Ittefaq acted as Bari Bhai's inspiration. Local people as well as the administration cooperated with him immensely in setting the organization up.

Mitali's creative activities help children develop social qualities and skills, so that they are well-equipped to deal with the world around them as they grow up. The rich library of Mitali Kochi Kanchar Mela has hundreds of books covering a wide range of subjects. Apart from organizing classes on painting, dance and music at a temporary facility, members of the organization celebrate national and international days including the Bangla New Year. It also organizes night school, distributes educational materials to poor students for free, provides recognition to meritorious students, and arranges cultural programmes. It arranges sports events, study tours and picnics, and conducts cleanliness and gardening drives and campaigns to promote afforestation.

The young members also respond to the call for help when the country is affected by natural calamity. They distribute relief materials to disaster victims and warm clothes to the distressed and needy in winter season. The organization also actively works towards raising awareness on child rights issues. Nalta Mitali Kochi Kanchar Mela takes pride in organising Khan Bahadur Ahsanullah (R) Literary Conference and Book Fair. Since 2008, it organised two such fairs in memory of noted educational and social reformer of Indo-Bangla-Pak sub-continent.

However, it has not been smooth sailing throughout, and Mitali Kochi Kanchar Mela has had to pass through some difficult periods in the past. The non-profit voluntary social welfare children's organization is yet to be able to generate its own fund. Bari Bhai, with the help of a few well-wishers, run the pioneering organization. At present, it has no building of its own, and the organization is actively seeking donations to fund its growth. Mitali Kochi Kanchar Mela is possibly the only children's organization in rural Bangladesh that has been able to sustain itself for 30 years against a backdrop of constant socio-political upheavals in the country. Inspired by Bari Bhai, members of Mitali Kochi Kanchar Mela are devoted to the taking their favourite organisation from strength to strength.

Among others, Satkhira Deputy Commissioner (DC) Abdus Samad, Kaliganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Abul Kalam Azad, Principal of Nalta College Mr. Abu Musa, Kaliganj Upazila Education Officer Mozaffar Ahmed, Debhata Assistant Education Officer Abdur Rashid, Nalta Secondary School Headmaster Md. Yunus, former Headmaster of Kaliganj Pilot High School Alhaj Nurul Islam, and journalists Kamruddin Hira, Atiqur Rahman and Ayub Ansari attended the programme.

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