By Mehdi Hasan Abdullah
Pearl S Buck once said: “The test of a civilisation is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.” Can we truly say that we live in a civilised nation, where there is chaos everywhere and no one can step outside in peace?
What about all the helpless people we see every day in the streets of Dhaka city? Does anyone care for them? I, personally, think that question answers itself.
Recently, The Green Channel Foundation went on a journey to Rampura, Hajipara to teach a batch of underprivileged students how to maintain proper hygiene, educate them on how certain diseases affect us, and how we can fight them off.
As we carried our props to the school, we had a certain plan, but we were all nervous. As we entered through that steel gate, we could see the nervousness etched on each of the children’s faces as well.
We did not know exactly how to begin, so our president, Navin Apu, started with some warm up conversations and we followed her lead.
While we were introducing ourselves, she saw a karate poster behind us, and took the opportunity to break the ice with a fun karate lesson.
Our members, Saeema and Sadia, were trained in karate, and they decided to put on a small show for the kids and show them a few basic karate moves.
Gradually, we could see how interested the children were. They followed Sadia and Saeema’s lead very easily, and we even called a few of them to see if they could recreate the moves. This exercise warmed them up and made them open up to us.
Afterwards, Hanin and I showed them the “seven steps on how to rinse your hands properly,” which was followed by a short skit that focused on three major types of diseases (typhoid, jaundice, and diarrhoea) that are caused if hygiene is not maintained properly. We explained how these diseases affect us and how to fend them off.
The day progressed as we showed them cartoons and held an art competition, which the children took very seriously.
It was fairly obvious that they loved to draw, but the funny thing was that almost all of them drew the clichéd village scenery with the lake nearby and the sun shining in the background, which we all drew in our art classes growing up.
That moment taught us that, even though we were from different walks of life, we were not that different.
The activity that truly opened my eyes was when I had to interview a few of those children. Hearing their stories and how they lived their lives instantly made my own problems feel almost non-existent.
I felt very fulfilled when I heard each of them say that they had learnt a lot because of us.
Abdullah, who was a victim of jaundice told me that when he was suffering from the disease, his parents could not even identify how the disease happened, and now he knows exactly why it happened, and thanked us for teaching him how to avoid certain diseases like this and he vowed to pass on this knowledge onto his other friends who are likely to make such mistakes.
During the end of the day, our head of projects, Zahra Alam showed the students a basic filtration system, which Green Channel started working on.
The basis of the project is to find an economically viable option of acquiring water and after showing this to them, they all wanted to learn how to make it.
When I interviewed Afsana, a student of that institute, as to why she thought this idea of a filtration system would be ideal for a country like Bangladesh, she responded by saying: “Having pure, clean water to drink is not a privilege the majority of the people in this country have, especially during the monsoon season when there are countless flooding incidents in the village.
“How are the people there supposed to survive, when they do not have clean water to drink? This rainwater harvesting system would create an efficient way of collecting pure, clean water, which would aid those in need, and I strongly believe that this idea should be implemented all over the country.”
Talking with these children, playing with them, and teaching them about personal hygiene over the hours made each of us here at Green Channel see the world through their eyes, and it is not the kind of world any of us would like to live in.
It is time that we take some responsibility and start implementing those changes we would like to see in this world.
JBut complaining and suggesting ideas cannot build an ideal world. We have to begin somewhere. We have to believe first and then start working towards our goals, together.
The road ahead may be long, but it is more than worth it. We hope you, too, join us in our endeavour to create a better world, a better Bangladesh.
– See more at Dhaka Tribune