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Mural, Mayhem and Making a Statement

Red, blue, yellow, green the colours were everywhere. From paintbrushes to fingertips, the children made a mess out of whatever available. In this case however, the mess indicated magic. The magic of creating, expressing, uniting and having fun. Chaos was in perfect order!

On 7 August this year, Dristipat launched the pilot of its series of workshops on raising awareness about child domestic workers amongst children. The aim of the initiative was to build a conscience in the younger generation towards accepting and appreciating the domestic help communities in the urban scenario, particularly children and eventually, outreach to the society towards establishment of their rights. Child domestic workers have been subjective to abuse and discrimination in many countries in the world, including Bangladesh. With the initiation of Domestic Worker Protection and Welfare Policy in 2010, the issue of their emancipation and equality of rights is now even more daunting and significant than before.

Dristipat has joined strengths with Ain-o-Shalish Kendra who has long been working on safeguarding of child domestic worker rights and aims to build capacity amongst school children as change makers while simultaneously providing education and life skill training for domestic help.

As part of its campaign, the workshop on 7 August played as stepping stone towards building further capacity. A curriculum was developed, entailing the discussion of child domestic worker issues through games and a mural making session that would encompass a visual representation of their rights and the children's feelings towards them. Targeted towards 10 to 14 years old, the workshop was held at Kolpotoru, a creativity centre for performing arts located in Dhaka. With a group of over 30 children and volunteers from Dristipat and One Degree Initiative, the workshop was a wonderful success!

The session began with the enthusiastic children sharing what was important to them to be happy, healthy and safe, and moving on to which these 'belongings' were common to children who worked at their homes. Having identified the discriminations, it was expected that children will be able to rethink their positions and grow compassion towards their 'helping hands'. The discussion was followed by the painting session, where a mural divided into three parts was given to the children to shower their imaginations and colours into. Each part of the mural embodied a specific idea of child domestic workers' rights, and when completed and stitched together, will an outlet of expression from both privileged and underprivileged segments of the community.

With flying colours and excited chirping from the children, the workshop was a brilliant initiative. When the mural is hung at the school premises, children and their parents will be constantly reminded of the importance of the underlying meaning behind the fun the establishment of child domestic workers' rights. With such a vision in mind, Dristipat looks forward to arranging future workshops and eventually, build awareness amongst the stakeholders of tomorrow.

By Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

And Thou Shall Not Curse…

Ramadan is the holy month of restraint. It is that testing time of the year when little worldly pleasures like eating, drinking, smoking etc. are kept under control and life loses most of its colourful sides due to strict religious discipline. For example, colourful language. As our prophet Muhammad (SM) has said, “If someone curses at you while you are fasting during Ramadan, tell him that you are a performer of the holy 'Saom' (fast).” However, what is to be done when the 'someone' in question decides to laugh at this noble gesture and continues with his cursing spree, is unclear. Therefore, we the Bangali, being the high-spirited eggheads that we are, opt for the simplest solution to the problem at hand: we curse back. And so it is that Ramadan turns out to be that time of the year when people, instead of controlling their anger and their mouths, actually end up cursing twice as much as they would during normal times. Now that is some really tragic backfire.

To curse at someone means to speak or to think ill of them. The Holy Quran specifically states that all Muslims are brothers to one another. Therefore speaking ill of one's brother is obviously a nasty, nasty thing. But then one of your brothers rams his honking BMW into the rickshaw you're riding on and sends you flying in the air and into an open manhole, the cover of which was stolen by another of your brothers the previous night. Your brother in BMW flees the scene without any greeting, showering you with the contents (mostly mud, spit and dog pee) of the nearby puddle as he does, while another brother, a policeman with a great belly, watches the entire scene, yawns, picks his nose and yells at you to get the hell out of there and stop causing a jam. And of course, all the other brothers and sisters gathered around, they simply laugh at you in unholy glee. It's all part of some twisted brotherly love, and yet for some reason you just can't help associating these dear brothers of yours to all sorts of animal, er, cubs (and also certain people, things with weird smells, professions and actions, but we're not talking about all that). It comes naturally, the cursing, and it has a very refreshing feel to it. And you don't even have to feel bad about it later because animals are actually pretty cute. Think Air buddies, think Babe, even though theirs weren't the actual images you had in your head when you were cursing. “Dear Lord, I apologise for calling my fellow brother a puppy, but You of all people should know that there was no ill intention behind it as I am an animal-lover and I think that puppies are the cutest things that ever walked the face of this Earth. Therefore, the act of cursing was actually an expression of my hidden brotherly love. Amen.”

If only things were that simple.

Anyway, cursing is only human, but why does it take such a major hike during Ramadan? What happens in most cases is that the fasting gets to people's heads. Bangali are food-lovers, we just LOVE to eat. And fasting doesn't let us eat (for around 14 hours this season) which obviously pisses us off. Now add to that standstill noon and pre-iftaar traffic jams, hour after hour after hour waits by the roadside for transportation, ridiculous Eid market crowds, price-hikes, super-frequent power cuts, adulterated food, heat-waves… if you already have a couple of grimacing curses forming at the tip of your tongue just by looking at this list, congratulations. You are a true Bangali. And because you live in Bangladesh, this Ramadan your patience is yet again going to be tested and taken to a brand new level. And because this is Bangladesh, there WILL be situations where you'll find your head exploding with anger and your oral cavity exploding with multi-coloured curses. Religious experts say this is how Lord tests us, that this is the very beauty of restraint. We say it's torture. And the tormented, we daresay, are going to let all hell loose and start another mayhem of 'galagali' this year as well.

Wait, is hell a curse-word? Sh*t…
Oh well.

By Kokoro

Survival Of The Fittest Part 1 SAT Prep

IT can now be assumed that all of you received your traumatic results and therefore have sufficient information to decide what you're going to do with approximately the next two years of your worthless lives. Therefore, you're thinking of applications. And SATs. You already know the basics, but neither the book nor your teacher will give you the few essential bits of information you're going to lament not knowing when it's all over and done. This guide is going to try to help you skip the lamenting part.

Coaching It won't even get you so far. SAT coaching in Bangladesh is behind, expensive and ultimately not very useful. You may be getting loads of practice there, but 'practice at home' is a broken record for a reason. The Princeton Review's 11 SAT Practice Tests, Barron's; they're familiar names, and your teacher is probably making you do all those exercises anyway. Who cares? Repeat them. Download previous tests. Repeat those. When it comes to the SATs, you're all you've got.

Vocabulary Most people get really freaked about this part of the test, memorising the 3500 Basic Word list from Barron's, attempting to memorise the dictionary, and others creative ways of destroying brain function. Stop. Breathe. The vocabulary section isn't that bad. When they babble about secondary meanings they're not talking to you. Keep in mind that these books were prepared for students giving the exam in USA. There's about as much distance between their education system and ours as there are miles between the two countries. You think your schools have been killing you all these years for nothing? Unless you've been living under a rock, you know the words and you know their secondary meanings. Eliminate the answer choices, then do as the book says and take a dive.

Comprehension You've been doing it forever. You passed your O'levels, didn't you? Why is it so hard then? Simple. You get glued onto the passage. Read. Reread. Re-reread. It's like a never-ending loop! Yes, Barron's told you to read the passage first, but here's a trick: read the question first. Use the line-references. Until you come to one of those annoying 'author's point of view'-type questions, don't read the entire passage. When you must read it ONCE. Cover it with your hand if necessary, but do NOT go back. Let the clock tick in your head. It's a guaranteed speed-inducer.

Essay You guys should be more worried about this section. There's no advice here. There's not enough time to tell you to read more if you haven't already, nor is there any point in doing so. Use Wikipedia. Look up in/famous people. If you don't know any, ask your parents. Churchill, Hitler, Gandhi and Mother Teresa are good starters. Even our very own Sheikh Mujib will do. Use secondary sites as sources too, since Wikipedia is editable and often contains incorrect info. It also generally lacks quotations. If you really can't think of anything else to do, make up quotes. Something your great-grandfather once told you before passing, which stuck to you forever. It doesn't even have to make sense. If you're making up your own quotes, no one says you can't invent your own meanings as well. It ain't cheating; it's using your imagination.

Math Your seventh-grade sibling can do these sums, so don't whine about your incompetency at math. The books tell you to think about the time, but then you'll just make the mistake of 2+3=6. Shove that insistent ticking to the back of your head. Think of the fabled turtle and take it one step at a time. Note: it says 'turtle', not 'snail'.

Registration If you're aiming for the October exam, it's past time you registered. If you haven't, be prepared to possibly head to Chittagong. If you're aiming for November though, it's a good idea to register by the end of August, or you could be going the same way. In case you don't know, you register at www.collegeboard.com

By Professor Spork



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