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Through different eyes
The camel jockeysy

They say that a child's heart is as pure as gold, and mind as clear as water. They don't comprehend the complicacies of this world, and maybe that's why, children are the only form of innocence we have left. And when these innocent children are robbed of their childhood, their innocence, the world really has no future. We're all aware of the fact that kids from our country are being kidnapped and trafficked to other countries, where they're put in life-threatening situations. Recently, a number of such kids, the much heard of camel jockeys, had been rescued and brought back to Bangladesh. I've read zillions of newspaper clippings about them, about their harsh life, and the cruelty and pain they had to undergo while they were abroad. After finally meeting them and talking to them, I have a very different idea. This is their story, from their own mouths.

RS: Let's start off with your stay in UAE. How was it?
It was great! We lived in a very comfortable place with our owner. We even had a television in our house.

RS: That sounds good. Well I've heard that you were treated very badly over there. Tell me about that.
That's not true at all. We weren't ever treated badly or beaten up. Our master took great care of us. We used to eat a lot of good food there. Before, in our village, we had never even seen such food!

RS: You were all camel jockeys there. What exactly did you have to do?
Every day our work started at six o clock in the morning. We were taken to the camels, where we had to feed them, clean their waste, and make them run for a while for warm up before the race. When the real race started, we had to sit on the camels and get them to race and win! Keeping the camels' balance- all those were our jobs. That's it.

RS: Did you know how risky it was, to be on those camels? If you fell, you could've died!
Well we had heard of that happen to other people, but nothing of the sort had happened in front of our eyes. We have no real experience of that.

RS: Now that you are here, do you miss your master, your life back in UAE? How is life different here, in this shelter?
(Laughing) We don't have to race camels anymore! Well, our master was very nice to us, so naturally we don't have any bad feelings towards him. Over there, we got to ride a plane, a car! None of our friends in our village have ever been in a plane! It's a very special memory for all of us. Life is very different for us over here. In UAE, we had a basic way of life. The day belonged to the master, and the night was ours. We were free to do whatever we wanted during the night, but in the day we had to work for him. Over here, we wake up in the morning, take our bath and breakfast, and play. We were actually playing carom board before you came! And in the evening, we study. So life is not at all the same.

RS: Oh you study here?
Yes. We have a school in this shelter; we study there. We also pray, five times a day.

RS: Well that's impressive! Do you want to continue studying when you go back to your village?
Yes, definitely! We want to study and become somebody in the future; maybe work in an office and earn a lot of money! We want to go abroad again, ride a car, a plane, all over again! We have to study for that, right?

RS: You're right! Tell me something, if you could go back to UAE and do the same stuff again, would you do it?
Yes, why not? We liked it there.

RS: But don't you like living in this shelter?
Not really! Well the people here take good care of us, and we do get to play around for hours, but this is not home. We'd feel much better if we could just go back home to our village and family. To our parents and friends. We really miss them.

RS: Have you met your parents after coming back?
Yes we have, but there's a huge problem there. Some of us had gone to UAE at such an early age that we don't even remember who our parents are! We've been there for around five to seven years. Few of us have vague recollections, but that's not enough, because a lot of people are coming for us. All of them can't be our parents, right!

RS: Tell me one final thing before we end this. All of you agree that you were happy abroad, right? So which place do you like better, abroad, or Bangladesh?
We loved it in UAE, but we definitely like being here more. After all, UAE was a foreign land, and this is home. This is where we belong.

RS: Well kids, best of luck for your future, and we all hope you do great things in your life!

Advocate Salma Ali, executive director of BNWLA, also gave us her valuable opinions on this issue.

Adv. Salma Ali: Children are the most innocent form of life there is. They forget all the harsh things in their lives very easily and remember all the good things for a long time. This group is no exception. They've easily adjusted with their current surrounding and very naturally, all they want to do now is go home. We at BNWLA are trying our best to send them home, but this is not easy. We have a responsibility over these kids and we can't just send them home to starve. So we're making sure that their parents can at least provide them with three meals each day. Those who are too poor, we're buying them rickshaws, or through any other mode, we're trying to ensure a sufficient livelihood for the family. Although we have been able to bring two groups of camel jockeys back to Bangladesh, we are aware that there are many more still there in UAE. We're trying our best to bring them back as well.

By Fahmina Rahman

Campus news

Holy Cross College
3rd Inter college science festival'05

Holy Cross College Science Club organized the "3rd Inter College Science Festival '05" from September 29 to October 1 at the college premises.

The colleges that took part in the festival were Holy Cross, Viquarunnisa, Hermann Gmeiner, St. Joseph, Notre Dame, Dhaka Residential, Dhaka College, Rifles Public, BAF Shaheen, Adamjee and Motijheel Ideal.

The three day event included display of science projects, seminars on science related topics, Quiz Competition, Extempore Speech Competition, Math Olympiad, Science Olympiad and IQ Test.

A huge number of students from various institutions joined the festival. Most of the prizes were won by the students Holy Cross and Notre Dame.

By Farzana Habib

Dhanmondi Tutorial's endeavour acknowledged

Though not yet eminent for its extra-curricular activities, Dhanmondi Tutorial's newly formed Debating Club put up a great fight of words at the Parliamentary Debate Competition organized and held at AIUB, on the 22nd of September. The other participating teams were Aga Khan, Scholastica, Notre Dame College, St Joseph, Manarat, Maple Leaf, Mastermind, European Standard School, Viquarunnessa, Holycross and Dhaka Residential Model School.

The debate competition being of college level, the debaters sent from DT were by far the youngest, as the two teams sent DT1 and DT2 comprised solely of 8th graders. Despite being the youngest in age and experience, their battle against Aga Khan, Dhaka Residential Model, Manarat, St Joseph and Scholastica, was worth witnessing and earned them the loudest cheers from the audience.

Having survived against their very fit opponents, it was not quite a surprise when DT2 reached the Semi-Finals. Though defeated by Scholastica in the Semi-Finals, Dhanmondi Tutorial bagged the 'Best Participating Team' award, while being publicly congratulated and appreciated by Bidit Lal, moderator of AIUB.

By Reesana Sifat Siraj

Teen central

Cross section eve teasing

Someone I know received an 'acid threat' from a guy she never heard of. The reason behind it is that she refused to accept the 'offer' to 'sleep with' him. Now how outrageous is that?

The issue of abuse on women has been discussed, dissected, and debated on so many times that it has become a cliché
. Nevertheless, it continues to haunt us till this day, revealing its horrors in newer and uglier dimensions. And those of you who are reading this piece curled up in your couches, feeling safe and protected, the danger is even closer than you think.

Until recently, such crimes more frequently occurred in rural or suburban areas, affecting mostly the less-protected lower middle class. But now it has spread to such an extent that no one can afford to feel safe anymore. Teenage girls are the prime victims, moreover the ones 'blessed' with good looks.

To exemplify the extent of the peril, I'll bring up an example. Nafisa, a student of a well-known English medium school of Dhaka, has recently been threatened of acid attacks. "The sms started coming from an unknown no. with those ugly proposals." she said. "As I never responded to any of them, the threats started pouring in. Just yesterday, I received a message giving me an ultimatum…"

The account of Nira, a university freshman, is no less shocking. In fact there was an attempt to kidnap her from the university campus which was fortunately foiled. After that, the thugs got more desperate and threw in the acid threats. At this crucial point, the student council intervened, extending the highest security they possibly could. Needless to say the brave example put up by the student council is one to be followed.

Other than acid threats, the abuses take the form of blank and prank calls, filthy sms, open stalking, etc. The abusers are mostly classmates, batch mates from coaching centres, or simply strangers. Shocking yet true, the abuser and the abused differ little in age or background. The effect of this sinister act ranges from nightmares to a trauma that follows the victim all her life.

Things are made even worse when sometimes it's not possible to share these things with the parents. "They already have a lot of stuff to worry about, so I don't want to add to their headache…" one such victim said. "It's tough to cope with the stress alone, and my friends are the only people I can open up to. It's all about getting used to it" added another sadly. The question is, Are these girls really matured enough to cope with the stress alone?

For those of you who are facing such a dilemma the best advice will be to open up to parents. Take some time to talk to them, and calmly explain the situation. Trust me you are going to feel a lot more relieved and secure once you do that. After all, parents are the best friends one can have, it's just that we fail to realise it. Keeping it a secret could be risky. If God forbid something happens, the entire blame may come over you. If in exceptional cases it is really impossible to tell your parents, find someone you can share it with. It could be a sibling, relative or even a close friend; someone whom you can trust and rely on.

This is a problem common to teenagers, and caused by teenagers. The solution is not anywhere but in our own hands. For those wannabe-guys out there, it's high time your thinking and attitude got a makeover. And as for the rest of us, let's not allow these few punks dictate the impression of us guys. This clearing up will need some time, but let us make sure we start it right now!


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