I’m sure all of you have often heard people saying “life is harsh” or “life is very cruel”, but do any of you know why the sayings go like these? I bet half of the people reading this article don’t even know what the word “harsh” means in real life, but then again, I should not blame you. Maybe you didn’t experience it yourself, or you didn’t get a chance to see others in distress. Just when you feel the cruelest thing that ever occurred to you was your parents did not buy you X-box or did not throw you a lavish birthday party, you will see there are many for whom a game of ‘ludo’( Traditional Bangladeshi Board Game) and a simple birthday cake is a luxury, and they are happy with the bare minimum.
Such an eye opening experience was PDF Summer Challenge, which comprised of 15 ten-men teams of young, amateur volunteers, who were to execute a collection of small-scale projects.. Organized by Asif Mahmood Abbas of Physically-challenged Development Foundation(PDF), it aimed to encourage the involvement of youngsters of the society.
One of these 15 teams was Team 14- Stobdhota, lead by Shafayat Naznoor Ahmed, along with the Deputy Leader Aishwarya Rahman. After choosing ten promising organizers for the team, the group put their heads together to plan their project. When asked. Aishwarya said, “We actually planned to work with the almost forgotten freedom-fighters of our country but later Eleen Sarah Khan from Jaago Foundation told us about Ashic Foundation, that is how we came up with this project. Besides bringing smile to those little unfortunate faces undoubtedly made us feel peaceful.” Thus, began the journey of Project Shoto Asha, and as explained by Aishwarya, “Shoto Asha basically means hope and yes we know that these children they don’t have much time left but still making them happy, giving them ‘hope’ even if it’s just for a day is worth it.”
So the hard-working team set out to fulfill its promise of helping the children fighting cancer- to be their companion, to encourage them for the trauma, to assure them that yes, there is hope. Talking to the founder of Ashic Foundation, Mrs. Afzal Chowdhury, the date and time was fixed. All the information regarding the cancer afftected children were gathered, and everything was set accordingly- starting from the food menu to the activities that were to be performed with the kids. The collection of the money started. There were maney eager donaters, and soon Stobdhota had enough money to help them fund the entire scheme.
The wait for 11th August started. Everything was being organised perfectly. All the gifts were wrapped and lay ready, waiting to be distributed. The food that was ordered in were being prepared under special instructions. It was a huge group of people to manage, so when the Leader, Shafayat, was asked of the problems he had to face during the time, he said, “Keeping track of the whole project, trying to fix some cold war between organisers. Other than that it went really smooth.”
The day arrived. Indeed, everything was picture perfect. All the preparations have been taken to entertain the kids back in Ashic Foundation. Upon entering the shelter, the team was cordially greeted by a number of children, the latter taking the lead and taking them to the dining area. Everyone gathered under the same roof- the parents, organisers, and also the volunteers who were specially invited for the event, and it was a fun-filled day full of games and activites. While the kids poured their hearts out and shared their stories with the crowd, there came a point when they started talking about the difficulties they have had to face, and the team of organisers and volunteers stepped forward to comfort them.
After lunch, it was time for some more games, thus leading to the art competition. Everyone got a peek of the imagination world of every child when they used their presents of pastel colours from the Stobdhota team put their thoughts in the form of drawings on the white paper that lay ahead of them. After another series of cheers, the children settled down after the day-long activities, finally resting to watch the movie “Ice Age”, and then Iftar followed shortly. Even though the wonderful moments have passed by, there are still pictures of the event, and a presentation was also made to inspire people all over the world.
The Grand Finale of PDF Summer Challenge was held recently in Institute of Diploma Engineers, Kakrail, Dhaka. The 15 teams were to present their projects along with the video presentation. However, due to some power failure problems, the last three teams, including team Stobdhota, failed to present their project with the video. Nonetheless, you will find the aforementioned video at the end of this article.
The other 14 teams also worked hard for the challenge, namely Team Zeal, Team Inspiration, Team Pearl, Team Hope, Team Catalyst, Team Invincibles, Team Paramount, Team Squarides, Team Ardent, Team Kickass, Team Motivation, Team Aspirers, Team Ornate, and finally Team Challenger.