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Making 4000 wishes

IF there was one day of the year many of us look forward to the most, it would be our birthdays. The cakes, candles, party, presents and attention are things we are infrequently bestowed with at, and having it all at one go is indeed a precious gift. However, for the many who are less fortunate than we are; that gift is such a rarity that birth dates are forgotten and the cake-candle-presents remain a mere fantasy. To make that fantasy into a memorable reality, World Vision recently organized a Birthday Bounce Back Programme where the birthdays of 4000 children were fêted at one go.

World Vision is an international Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated in working with children, their families and the community in order to overcome poverty and injustice. Their programmes include education, poverty alleviation, HIV/AIDS prevention, economic development, disaster management and women's empowerment amongst many others. Being a child-focused organization, World Vision believes that the best way to help a child is through their families and communities. Thus, its Child Sponsorship Programme provides long-term support to children that also benefit their families and communities.

The humanitarian organization was founded in 1950 by Dr. Bob Pierce who was deeply moved by the suffering of children victimized by the Korean War. Over the years, World Vision has spread to all parts of the world and has touched the lives of many people. It became involved in Bangladesh in response to the tidal surge that hit the coastal areas in 1970. Later on, it helped in relief work at the refugee camps in India in 1971. Following the liberation of Bangladesh, World Vision Bangladesh (WVB) began operating from a small coordination office at Birisiri at Mymensingh in 1972. Soon, it established its office in Dhaka and started working as a National office. By 2008, WVB has worked at 51 upazilas and urban locations in 24 districts throughout the country. Through a series of 54 Area Development Programmes (ADPs), WVB has aided in sustainable, child-focused development in local communities.

Dhaka Shishu ADP (DS-ADP) is located at the northwest side of Dhaka under Mohammadpur and Adabor Thana. This ADP belongs to the administrative units of Zone 6 and 7 of DCC respectively. It began operating since 1998 and plans to end in 2013 by instilling the motto of WVB and its programmes amongst the locals. As part of its activities, DS-ADP organized a Birthday Bounce Back Programme on 24th March 2009. The event was meant to celebrate the birthdays of nearly 4000 children who are under the DS-ADP and was indeed a very successful one.

The children usually come from financially unstable backgrounds and the programme runs through a 'One Sponsor for One Child' set up. Although the event hoped to accommodate all of its participants, it was unfortunate only approximately 90 children were present to have their birthday blast. With recent national crisis and occurrences, many parents were unwilling to send their children to the event. As the Chief Guest, Mr. Asad Chowdhury, renowned poet, writer, TV personality and cultural activist puts it, “It is indeed inauspicious that the small joys of our lives are tampered by the sudden changes in our surroundings, and by people who do not want our welfare.” In spite of low attendance, the Birthday Bounce was celebrated with a mouth watering cake on the table, balloons across the halls and presents in the hands of children.

“I never thought one day I will be able to celebrate my birthday with all my friends. It feels so wonderful and different,” said one of the participants at the bash.

Hence, it was a moment to remember and a party to love and laugh in memory of for a very long. This reporter was mesmerized by the enthusiasm of the WVB volunteers and organizers, and salutes their efforts. To bring a smile in the face of each of the children and giving them an opportunity to make a birthday wish with the blow of candles is heart-warming. We should always applaud the humanitarian parts that still exist in our community and step up in making this world a better place for our future generations.

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya
Photo: Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

Safe school for better tomorrow

A healthy and safe environment is an integral component of a school. In addition to health education, physical education and activities, health services, mental health and social services are needed to ensure a safe and pleasant school environment.

To ensure a child-friendly atmosphere where the students can have equal opportunity to flourish without any physical and psychological harassment “Mass-line Media Center” (MMC) and “Plan Bangladesh” are working together on a project called “Agami”. As part of their campaign “National Children Fair 2009” was arranged at Bangladesh Shishu Academy. The Chief Guest, former Adviser to the Caretaker Government and Editor of The Independent, Mahbubul Alam inaugurated the festival by hoisting the national flag and releasing balloons. Edward Thomas Espe, Country Director, Plan Bangladesh was also present as Special Guest at the event, which was moderated by Kamrul Hassan Monju, Executive Director, Mass-line Media Center (MMC).

Upama Dasgupta, coordinator, Agami project, presented the keynote paper, where she stated that along with infrastructure problems, social security issues are the main culprits against a safe school environment. A discussion also held upon the subject “safe and pleasant school environment” where Mahbubul Alam, psychologist Mehtab Khanam, and Edward Thomas shared their views with other speakers about these issues.

Participants from 64 schools from all over country, 64 young journalists, and hundreds of students along with their parents enjoyed the daylong program, which included discussions, art and recitation competitions and wallpaper exhibitions. The event was ended with a prize giving ceremony.

By Zabir Hasan

Letter to Hamlet

Dear Hammy,
How are you? We are sure you are having a great time; after all you got what you wanted- to sleep forever, and in the process you killed the entire cast of your play.

We have nothing against you but there are certain things we would like you to know. When we were in junior high we didn't like you at all, we thought you were a “depressed lonesome soul” and in our words that was “a sad loser”. We lost our beauty sleep, missed our favourite TV shows and our grades went down the drain thanks to you and your “melancholy”(which by the way meant nothing to us other than a big fat melon that was holy).

By the end of the school year we got used to your madness. In fact we thought you were “cute” and we came up with nicknames for you such as Hamster, Ham omelette and Hammy.

After our sophomore year came the senior year. Our teen infatuation turned into that four-letter word AMOR (love is just overrated and clichéd). We could relate to your obscure state of mind and your need for throwing in an “antic disposition”. You were our favourite tragic hero. Only if you had layered hair, an eyebrow pierced, fingernails painted black and wore skinny jeans you would have fitted the conventions of being an “emo” prince. Ophelia was a fool for not being able to understand you and your mother was a disgrace to all women, but Hammy we could have assured you that “frailty thy name is NOT woman”. We even dedicated the song I'll follow you into the dark by Death Cab for Cutie just for you.

The last year of senior high was very painful, as we had to bid thee farewell. However, it was time to move on.

Years have passed, now we are smart mature adults going to university. There, we were going over our course outline and we came across something that left us surprised and appalled. BOO! Yes Hammy it was you--again. It turned out you are worse than your daddy's ghost because after so many years you are still haunting us and making us analyse your soliloquies and sanity in depth.

Hammy, we know you have had a miserable life but please don't get us wrong we think you are to blame as well. Okay let's just not get into the blame game but we have a request that we want you to keep.

Please stop popping out from our textbooks and leave us alone.

No hard feelings.

Thank you


By Fariba Rakhsanda



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