On the Streets
“Apa/bhaiya, akta phool niben?” (Sister / Brother, would you like to buy a flower?) -- This is something that we often hear while moving on the streets of Dhaka. A little lass, or perhaps a lad, selling flowers to the city dwellers at various signals as the red light goes on, wearing a faded frock or shirt. At times, we spare a change and buy some, at others we just pass on. Thanks to JAAGO Foundation, on November 11 2010, almost 2000 “sophisticated” young boys and girls got the lesson of how it feels to be a pass-on.
Keeping in mind the Universal Children's Day, celebrated worldwide on November 20, JAAGO hosted a fund raising event with 2000 volunteers working at 18 signal points within the city of Dhaka. The main aim was to raise the money for the welfare of slum children in the city of Dhaka (Rayer Bazar slum, and the two new branches at Tongi and
Banani slum.) Fortunately enough, I got an opportunity to be a part of this memorable event.
The night before the event took place, I could not sleep because of excitement. I rushed to Dhaka from Narayanganj as fast as I could early in the morning the next day. My work point was Baily Road. My first earning was 50 takas. By the time it was lunchtime, I was already being appreciated for my hard work and solely earned the maximum amount by then. Our representative from JAAGO and our team leader were very supportive and so were my fellow volunteers. My mother, who spent the entire time standing at the corner of the signal, kept encouraging me to go on with my work.
The whole event held shocks and surprises for us. The record this year was when a fellow volunteer at my point got an antique one taka note as contribution! Mine was shocking when an expensive car rider mouthed “Maf koro” (Please move on) to me, in spite of seeing the JAAGO tee shirt and ID card. And then there was this gentleman who once heard my entire plead from behind shut car windows, then rolled the window down asking me to repeat what I had said and then replied, “Jao! Kichu dibo na!” (I won't give you anything! Please go!)
A concerned mother with a 6 year-old school going girl with her, after hearing my pleading said that she was already fed up teaching her own child, who would be kind enough to teach “slum kids”! I couldn't help but reply that her daughter at least ate 3 times a day, while those kids couldn't even afford meals twice a day. Fortunately, she gave me 20 takas after hearing my reply!
And then there were some who took us to be cheaters, and the boys with us were thought to be eve-teasers! A lady walked up to me, said that she knew the ways of the world better than us, and that we were wasting our time and should go straight to the Prime Minister and ask her to donate something instead of begging!
However, I did meet many who understood our plight and helped us out. A van-puller gave me 50 takas once he heard what we were going to do with the collected fund. An older citizen gave me 200 takas for showing spirit, and a security guard gave me 10 takas since he did not have much with him. Of course, there were also some really large-hearted patriots 'walking' on the streets offering 500 takas as contribution! The conclusion I drew from all this was, "Never judge a book by its cover, not all car riders are rich at heart!"
It is because of JAAGO that working under the scorching sun made us realise how bad those kids must feel when we pass them on, or at times yell at them. While we worked on their behalf on the streets, they had fun spending their day at Wonderland, enjoying the childhood they missed out all year round.
Being able to do something for the country is a feeling that no one can feel unless one works whole-heartedly for it. Even when you, as an individual, are taking a small step to make a difference, together, it can create a large difference for the entire nation.
(The writer is an A-Level student at ABC International School, Narayanganj.)
James, the Guru to most of his loyal fans, overjoyed the audience with his famous songs like 'Lace fita Lace', 'Dushtu Cheler Dol' and 'Mirabai'. The music Guru also performed his bollywood hit 'Na Jane Koyi' with his band Nagar Baul.
The popular musical band Souls graced the occasion by performing their classics like 'Mon Sudhu Mon'. Then the current youth craze 'Artcell' won over the audience with the ecstasy of pure rock numbers like 'Noshto Somoy' and fusion rocks like 'Durgam Giri Kantar Moru'.
In conversation with the Star Campus, Partha Barua the eminent lead guitarist and vocal from the band Souls talks about the importance of concerts with a noble cause such as eliminating violence against women. These concerts work as large platforms from where famous artists of the society can spread messages to people. According to this popular public figure, law, only, cannot prevent violence against women, it is the consciousness of the mass people that can prevent such violence. “To make a conscious generation, our children need to be provided with proper schooling and manners from the family where they would learn to respect both males and females in the society,” opines Partha. He also points out the effectiveness of the practice of music, which stimulates creativity amongst young people and in turn helps them to stay away from drugs and other kinds of activities, which are illegal.
Faiza a student of North South University (NSU) appreciates the concert for spreading the notion of eliminating violence against women, as most often women do not get their deserved respect in the media. “In our movies and dramas the hero is often seen to tease his female counterpart as if it proves his macho character and the women are supposed to fall for his courage. This idea encourages sexual harassment, or popularly known as eve teasing on the streets. Therefore these ideas should not be promoted on screen at all.” Dipu, a hardcore fan of metal music also opines that concerts like this one can play a great role to make people, in particular male teenagers conscious about the rights of women in the society. “To be honest prior to this concert I was not used to thinking much about the illegal activities going on in our society like sexual harassment or eve teasing,” he admits. “But today, I think I have learned something from my favourite musicians regarding respecting women.” says Dipu.
With the rocking performance from Artcell the event came to its conclusion. One can hope that as the audience was leaving the venue, many of them would be motivated to change their ways and become an honest human being for the sake of the society and also the nation.