পিরিয়ড বা মাসিক শব্দটি নিয়ে খুব একটা খোলামেলাভাবে কথা বলতে আমরা অস্বস্তিবোধ করি। অথচ আর দশটা শারীরবৃত্তীয় ব্যাপারের মতই এটা ঘটে প্রাকৃতিক নিয়মে। একজন নারীর প্রজনন স্বাস্থ্যের সুস্থতা জড়িয়ে আছে মাসিক (ঋতুস্রাব)সময়কালীন যত্নের সাথে। এই সময়টুকুর অবহেলা ডেকে আনতে পারে মারাত্মক স্বাস্থ্যঝুকি। কিন্তু বাংলাদেশের প্রেক্ষাপটে মাসিক একটি উপেক্ষিত বিষয় এবং কোন কোন ক্ষেত্রে ‘গোপন’ বা ‘লজ্জাজনক’। এ নিয়ে মানুষের বিশেষ করে নারীদের মাঝে রয়েছে অসংখ্য কুসংস্কার আর ভুল ধারণা। এই ভুল ধারণা আর না বলা কথাগুলোকে সবার সামনে তুলে ধরতে এবং সর্বস্তরে বিশেষ করে স্কুল পড়ুয়া কিশোর-কিশোরীদেরদের মাঝে সচেতনতা সৃষ্টি করার লক্ষ্যে কাজ করছে ক্যাম্পেইন রেড। কথা বলেছিলাম ক্যাম্পেইন রেড টিম এর একজন সদস্য সৈয়দা ফারজানা আহমেদের সাথে। read more
Tariq* was repeatedly molested by an uncle over three years since he was five. The uncle used to bribe him with chocolate and ask him nicely to not tell anyone about their “playtime”. As a child not understanding what happened to him, Tariq never spoke about it to anyone, but became a very distant and antisocial child, prone to sudden tantrums and angry outbursts. When he was 16, in midst of an argument, he finally broke down and told his mother about it. Mortified about such allegations against her cousin, his mother told him he must have misunderstood and asked him not to mention this to anyone. Now in his 20s, Tariq still sees his uncle at family functions who jokes around with him, as if nothing ever happened.
I learned of Tariq’s story not from him but from his tearful older sister who learned about the incident by chance. She is worried about how Tariq has extremely low self-esteem and has isolated himself from his family. She said the matter was never brought up again and their parents never acknowledged it happened. She is full of resentment against her parents but doesn’t have the courage to confront them or talk to her brother about it.
Tariq’s story illustrates three things about us as a society:
One, we don’t respect the agency and experiences of children. When they challenge us with something distressing, we try to convince them, and ourselves, that they either imagined it or are lying. And whatever the case may be, they will forget about it over time.
Two, we are so uncomfortable about talking about issues related to sex and abuse that we are willing to push them under the rug and ignore them out of fear—fear of dealing with the truth and fear of what other people might say. In this case, it was particularly difficult for their mother to deal with the idea that her son had been molested, and by a man no less.
But we need to get over ourselves. Enough newspapers reports and anecdotal evidence has shown us that sexual abuse of children is rampant across all strata of society, but our silence around the issue is deafening.
Children who experience sexual abuse tend to keep silent about their experiences because of feelings of guilt, shame, and confusion. Stigma around the issue and examples of muzzling conversations set by adults also discourage children from expressing their feelings out of fear of not being believed. It is this shroud of secrecy and denial that we need to shake ourselves out of, and one way of doing that is by openly communicating with children about it.
The positive impact of this open communication is demonstrated by the work of a student-led project called Nishu (Nirapod Shoishober Uddeshe) initiated by a group called Ground Zero. In December 2016, Ground Zero won the BYLC Youth Leadership Prize, a grant of BDT 750,000 from Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC) with support from UKAID. With help from other child rights groups, including Breaking the Silence, they created a child-friendly module for students reading between classes three and five, that disseminated accessible information on the threat of sexual abuse.
A baseline survey with 480 students from five different schools found that around 70 percent of the children were not aware that they had private parts, which were not supposed to be touched by anyone else. They held sessions with 1,200 students from various schools and, through the use of cartoons, poems and posters, were able to make them aware of their personal space and private parts, which are forbidden to others, understand how to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate touching, and what to do if someone did anything that made them uncomfortable.
Ground Zero’s main intention was to reach children with the right information before they experienced sexual abuse. Through their intervention, they found that many children had experienced abuse at home by people they trust, but hadn’t spoken about it either because they couldn’t comprehend what was happening to them, or couldn’t articulate their feelings of discomfort. Having someone speak openly to them about it helped them to understand their experience and speak to their parents. Several parents called the group afterwards, admitting shock that this had happened to their children right under their noses. In one instance, where a girl was being molested by her father, the child spoke to her mother after attending one of these workshops. Upon learning this, the mother moved away with the child and filed a police report. Ground Zero’s initiative demonstrates that an act as simple as speaking to children on their level can have a far-reaching impact on their lives.
A lot needs to be done to address child sexual abuse. We need to find out the root causes of why it happens, we need to establish better processes for legal recourse and punishing perpetrators, and we need better counselling services for those who experience abuse and trauma. But these sorts of initiatives are often left for government services, hospitals, or NGOs to manage. A small but effective measure that each of us can take at home is to create channels for open communication and talk to the children in our lives about it. It doesn’t have to be an uncomfortable, detailed, explicit discussion, but enough so that they are aware, able to protect themselves, and seek help if something happens. Hopefully then, we will have all played an active part in creating a society where no child has to suffer in silence as Tariq did.
*Names have been changed to protect identity
Shaveena Anam is Deputy Manager, Communication at Bangladesh Youth Leadership Centre.
This article was originally published in the local newspaper, The Daily Star, on December 8, 2017.
ক্রিয়েটিভ সোসাইটি। নামটার মাঝেই কেমন একটা সৃজনশীলতার আঁচ পাওয়া যায়। তরুণ প্রজন্মকে যোগাযোগ দক্ষতা, উপস্থাপনা দক্ষতা, নতুন নতুন আইডিয়া উদ্ভাবন ও উদ্বুদ্ধকরণ এবং মানসিক দক্ষতায় দক্ষ করার উদ্দেশ্য নিয়ে ২০১৪ সালের ০১ লা নভেম্বর “ক্রিয়েটিভ সোসাইটি”র প্রতিষ্ঠা হয়। বেগম রোকেয়া বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের পরিসংখ্যান বিভাগে পড়ুয়া তিন বন্ধু আবু সাঈদ আল সাগর, আল-আমিন ইসলাম ও কাজী সানজিদুল ইসলাম শুভর প্রচেষ্টাতেই গড়ে উঠেছিলো এই প্ল্যাটফর্মটি। read more
নেতৃত্ব শব্দটি জানা থাকলেও, অজানা ছিল এর গভীর অর্থ। ছোটবেলা থেকেই স্বপ্ন দেখেছি সাফল্যের, সাফল্যের জন্য নেতৃত্বের প্রয়োজনীয়তাও বুঝেছি; হয়তো এটাও বলেছি যে একদিন লিডার হব। স্কুল, কলেজ ও বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ে হয়তো নিজের অজান্তেই দেখিয়েছি লিডারশীপ দক্ষতা কিন্ত বিওয়াইএলসি আমাকে দিয়েছে নেতৃত্বের গভীর উপলব্ধি। নেতৃত্বের কাজ হয়তো কিছুটা কঠিন, আসতে পারে আঘাত কিন্তু এটি অনেক গুরুত্বপূর্ণ একটি দক্ষতা। এই দক্ষতা অর্জনের আকাঙ্খা ও চেষ্টা ধরে রাখা আমি শিখেছি বিওয়াইএলসির কাছ থেকে।
ছোট থাকতে ইচ্ছা ছিল একদিন শিক্ষক হব। তখন ভেবেছি স্কুলে পড়াবো কিন্তু বয়সের সাথে, স্বপ্নটাও বড় হয়েছে। এখন আমার স্বপ্ন শিক্ষা ছড়িয়ে দেওয়া গোটা দেশের মানুষের মাঝে, সেই শিক্ষা হবে স্বাস্থ্য নিয়ে শিক্ষা, পুষ্টি নিয়ে শিক্ষা। উন্নত করে তুলতে চাই এদেশের স্বাস্থ্য সুবিধা। এই প্রত্যাশায় আমি নর্থ সাউথ ইউনিভার্সিটি থেকে বায়োকেমিস্ট্রি এবং বায়োটেকনোলজি বিষয়ে গ্র্যাজুয়েশন করেছি। অর্জন করেছি যথাযোগ্য জ্ঞান ও অভিজ্ঞতা। পড়াশোনার জগতে শীর্ষ স্থানেও অবস্থান করেছি। তবে এটাই তো শেষ নয়, এত বড় স্বপ্ন পূরণ করার জন্য দরকার পড়াশোনার বাইরের জগতেরও অভিজ্ঞতা। কাজেই বলা জেতে পারে যে আমার স্বপ্নটা স্বচ্ছ হলেও, সেই লক্ষ্যের প্রতি যাত্রাটা ছিল অস্পষ্ট।
২০০৯ সালে এ লেভেল শেষ করে বেশি দিন বসে থাকতে পারিনি। যোগ দিলাম নিজের স্কুলেই। ৬ মাস কাজ করলাম ও এন্ড এ লেভেল এক্সাম কোঅরডিনেটর হিসেবে। তারপর বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ে পড়ার সময় কাজ করলাম টিচিং অ্যাসিসট্যান্ট হিসেবে। এই ছোট খাটো কাজ গুলো আমাকে ভবিষ্যতের জন্য অনেক অভিজ্ঞতা অর্জনের সুযোগ দিয়েছে। চতুর্থ বর্ষে এসে খোজ পেলাম বিওয়াইএলসির এ পি এল নামের ওয়ার্কশপটির। ফেসবুক এর মাধ্যমেই জানলাম এটার ব্যাপারে এবং একই সাথে জানলাম বিওয়াইএলসির ব্যাপারে। ব্যাপক নেটওয়ার্কিং ও অভিজ্ঞতা লাভ করার সুযোগ ছিল এই তিন দিনের ওয়ার্কশপের।
এপিএল এর তিন দিনের সেশনে অংশগ্রহণ করতে পেরে নিজের স্বপ্নের একটু কাছে পৌছালাম। লিডারশীপ শিখানোর পাশাপাশি এপিএল আমাকে দিয়েছে কর্মজীবন পরিকল্পনা করার ধারণা। এই অভিজ্ঞতা লাভ করার জন্য বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের শেষ বর্ষটাই সবচেয়ে আদর্শ সময়। আমি মনে করি আমার মত আর অনেক শিক্ষার্থীরাই এই তিন দিনের ওয়ার্কশপ থেকে অনেক কিছু শিখতে পেরেছে এবং জীবনে অগ্রগতি করার রাস্তাও পরিকল্পনা করতে পেরেছে।
মজার বিষয় হল যে এপিএল ওয়ার্কশপের এর পর বিওয়াইএলসির সাথে আমার সম্পর্ক শেষ হয়ে যায়নি। বিভিন্ন সময়ে তাদের থেকে সাড়া পেয়েছি অন্যান্য ওয়ার্কশপএর অরগানাইজিং কমিটিতে তে কাজ করার। পড়াশোনার কারনে এসব সুযোগ প্রায়ই হাতছাড়া হয়েছে তবে গ্র্যাজুয়েশন শেষ হবার পর একটুও অপেক্ষা করিনি। খবর পেলাম যে বিওয়াইএলসি আয়োজন করছে বিশাল এক সামিটের। দেশ বিদেশ থেকে ৫০০ জন ডেলিগেট ও ৫০ জন স্পিকার দের নিয়ে বিশাল এক আয়োজন। এই সামিটের অরগানাইজিং কমিটিতে তে কাজ করার সুযোগ পেলাম। লিডারশীপ, কমিউনিকেশন, মার্কেটিং, অ্যাডমিনিসট্রেশন দক্ষ হওয়ার সম্ভাবনা দেখেছি এই কাজের মাধ্যমে।
শুরুতেই বলেছিলাম স্বপ্নটা অনেক বড়ো, কাজেই দক্ষতাও হতে হবে অসীম। প্রতিদিন একটু একটু করে অর্জন করছি দক্ষতা এবং এগিয়ে যাচ্ছি স্বপ্নের নিকট। এই যাত্রায় বিওয়াইএলসির অবদান হয়ে থাকবে সর্বদা অমূল্য।
২০১৪ সালে এই আর্টিকেলটি লেখা হয়েছে।
আফরিন জামান খান ইনডিপেন্ডেন্ট ইউনিভার্সিটি, বাংলাদেশের স্কুল অফ লাইফ সাইন্সে লেকচারার হিসেবে কর্মরত আছেন। তিনি জন হপকিন্স ব্লুমবার্গ স্কুল অফ পাবলিক হেল্থ থেকে বায়োকেমিস্ট্রি এবং মলিকিউলার বায়োলজি বিষয়ে মাস্টার্স করেছেন।
Have you ever felt that you belong nowhere? Do you feel alone amidst a crowd that is full of familiar faces? If you are accustomed to this solitude, I dedicate this article to you. read more
It has been a year since I have been working at BYLC, and it has been a remarkable experience watching and learning how leadership can be taught. I have had the opportunity to meet young people from different backgrounds and observe interesting dynamics between people who normally would not have met each other. I have watched as common assumptions were challenged in class, stereotypes were broken during group activities, and fears were conquered during public speaking workshops. read more
This article was originally published in Star Weekend, The Daily Star.
”What makes a leader?”
This question was asked by the lead instructor, Khaled Saifullah, to my class, on the first day of the Building Bridges through Leadership Training (BBLT) program at BYLC. Each of us produced different answers. One participant said, “A leader is someone who mobilizes people”. Another said, “A leader is one who takes initiatives”, “A leader is someone everyone looks up to”, “A leader motivates, inspires and represents people,” the comments poured in. Khaled Bhai neither refuted any idea nor did he rule one as accurate. Geared up with pens and notebooks, we all waited intently for him to give us the answer. A moment of silence ensued, accompanied by confusion. We looked at one another, some of us shifting in our seats, others trying to hide their growing anxiety. As the restlessness became palpable, we waited for him to relieve our tension. There came no answer and on that momentous first day we never ended up learning what qualities define a leader. But this was only the beginning.
The BBLT journey, for me, was a rewarding experience, one that tore at my convictions but exposed me to a world of opportunities. Thrusting myself into new territory, I was able to transcend the limits of thought, and gained the confidence to initiate action addressing social issues that are important to me.
Once we were equipped with the rights tools, the second phase of the program required us to implement what we learned in the real world and catalyze social change. This was the hard part; no matter how many books you read on leadership, nothing can prepare you for practical situations, if you lack the knowledge acquired by experience. My teammates and I chose a makeshift school for the street children in the vicinity of Panthokunja Public Park, as we were familiar with the area. After brainstorming different ideas and assessing the site, we came up with a plan to help the school.
We felt that, in addition to poverty alleviation, lack of access to essential services such as primary education, basic healthcare, water sanitation, nutrition, etc. are the most pressing issues and overarching challenges facing Bangladesh. Due to lack of access to essential services in underprivileged communities, our group, Project Lighthouse, decided to work on raising awareness about education, health and hygiene among the underprivileged children attending the school, as well as delivering modest support services to improve their standard of living. However, since we only had modest resources to aid our project, we decided to focus on education and sanitation. We planned to donate an electronic projector so that they could learn from different visual mediums, and to install a portable toilet to ensure better sanitation.
The challenges we faced to achieve our mission were formidable. One such instance was when we realized that it is easier said than done to install the toilet. We needed prior permission from City Corporation before we could put it in place. The City Corporation recognized the importance of the matter for provision of sanitation facilities to the community .It was fortunate for the community and us that they agreed to donate a toilet from their own resources. We then had to revise our plans, but it could not overshadow the joy and satisfaction of making a small difference in the lives of those students.
So, back to the question at hand, ‘what makes a leader?’ Without having the answer laid out in front of us, we learned what we needed to through experiential sessions. It is this heuristic approach to learning that enabled us to discover our potential and develop qualities attributed to leaders. Going into the program, we all had our individual concepts about what ‘leadership’ meant and we realized that none of them can be ruled out as either accurate or otherwise. But one thing that we learned on Day 1 is that when there is a crisis, a leader is one who does not look up to authority for answers.
This article was originally published in Star Weekend, The Daily Star.
“What is the main purpose of your life?” was the most frequently asked question throughout my two and a half month journey during the Building Bridges through Leadership Training (BBLT) at Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC).If the purpose of our life was just to live, then we all would fail one day. So I would say the purpose of my life is to mobilize people towards taking action for a common good.
I realized that the successful completion of the 12th BBLT program was not the end, but the embryo of my leadership journey. I took the chance to apply to be a campus ambassador for the 13th BBLT program. Ambassadors were recruited from different renowned institutions of Dhaka, including Viqarunnisa Noon College, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology, Bangladesh University of Professionals, Islamic University of Technology, BRAC University, East West University.
The Campus Ambassador has the responsibility of encouraging students of their respective education institutions to apply to BYLC programs. Initially, the role of a campus ambassador did not seem very tough to me as I was a fresh graduate of BBLT 12 and had the zeal to bring more young and bright minds under the tutelage of BLYC. I had personally identified many enthusiastic individuals with potential who just needed the appropriate push in the right direction. So, I had to convince the tender hearts to apply to the BBLT program to get their long awaited common platform, and meet other likeminded individuals from diverse backgrounds.
As I worked as Campus Ambassador, I was one again reminded of how important it is to talk about the tenets of leadership to the youth of Bangladesh. There is a common perception that leadership can only by exercised by people in authority positions, such as politicians. But at BYLC, we absorbed the idea that that leadership is all about taking the appropriate action at the appropriate time, the power does not only lie with political parties! So I took my time in explaining to people that leadership is an inherent potential in every individual, all we have to do is to bring the maximum output by utilizing it.
We used the consent letter provided by BYLC to take the permission from the university authority to set up a booth for the applicants at TSC and also post BYLC posters at Curzon Hall, Faculty of Business Studies, Arts Faculty notice board and also to the residential halls and cafeterias at different corner of the campus. We also went on FM radio to talk about our initiatives.
Covering the large campus, postering, passionately giving presentations wearing BYLC’s green polo T-shirt with my fellow campus ambassadors Mahia, Jubaer and Joy was never hectic, rather, we learned from each other, made new friends and preceded towards fulfilling BYLC’s mission to bridge gaps in society by uniting youth from diverse backgrounds, equipping them with leadership, problem solving, teamwork skills and engaging them in community service and active citizenship. By working as Campus Ambassador, I was able to expand my network and maintain new relationships with the academic professionals, clubs and students of my university. The activities enabled me to develop my communication and teamwork skills and I became more confident in giving presentations.
Performing the responsibilities of a campus ambassador was challenging but also exciting and a continuous learning process. I would encourage anyone who wonders about their purpose, to take on leadership roles such as these because no matter how big or small the task, it eventually leads toward making progress for the common good.
This article was originally published in Shout, The Daily Star.
As the countdown begun on the enormous screen, the massive crowd joined in, echoing across the hall, the descending of the numbers. The concluding footage showed the alliance of hundreds of delegates, boasted of 30 renowned speakers, of zero selfie count and Facebook scrolling; at the end of it everyone broke into applause.
This was how the Youth Leadership Summit conducted by Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC) finally finished its three-day program on August 21. The summit was held at the International Convention City, Bashundhara in Dhaka, bringing together around 400 national and international delegates after a rigorous selection procedure. It consisted of leadership sessions, plenaries and keynote speeches from notable visionaries. read more
Life after graduation is a thought that torments every graduate. Of course, there is excitement about being unshackled from early morning classes, night-long cramming, and dreadful grade announcement days. However, the “blues” engendered by the brusque realization of adulthood are inescapable – now what?
A myriad of career advices and warnings from deeply concerned well-wishers inevitably accompanies your bane. It is only human to get daunted and confused amidst this pandemonium, eventually losing sight of who you really are and what you really want to do.
An insufferable barrage of questions, the spectrum of which stretches from the utterly practical (How do I get a job?) to the immensely profound (What is my life’s purpose?), stares at you.
Unsurprisingly, every graduate faces the same questions, but the answers are unique to each. There’s no silver bullet, no magic solution. Nonetheless, mistakes and miscalculations made at this crucial time are often irreversible.
To get a bit more perspective, it is worth knowing some facts. Every year a graduate enters the job market as just one in a group of 1.8 million other soldiers. Every year, the employment situation worsens in a country where a sixth of the population is already unemployed or underemployed.
Recent ILO reports state further grim realities. Between 2000 and 2006 about 250,000 jobs were created for every point of GDP growth in Bangladesh. Assuming this estimation is fairly valid, with GDP growth rate of about 6%, annual job creation would be about 1.5 million. But even that does not match the 1.8 million new job seekers every year let alone those who are already unemployed.
With so much difficulty in securing a credible job, no wonder entrepreneurship is the new popular kid on the block for young graduates these days. However, the facts here according to the World Bank, is that only about 9,000 businesses get registered in Bangladesh annually and the Doing Business 2013 study ranks Bangladesh as 129th among 185 countries!
I know the facts above aren’t exciting but I shift uneasily at them too. The writing’s on the wall. It truly is survival of the fittest. The point that I am trying to make is that unless you take charge, your state of confusion based on what other people say is bound to get worse as you strive to enter a fiercely competitive and difficult post-university life irrespective of which profession you might choose to take up. The very people, who will be spearheading our front-lines and giving us direction in a few years’ time, need some direction for themselves right now.
This is the cue for leadership. Long burdened by its unjustly awarded political and authoritative connotation, the word “leadership” holds the answers to all of Bangladesh’s problems. Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC), the country’s first leadership institute, has been dedicated to sensitizing and training tomorrow’s young leaders since 2008. The organization believes that the multi-faceted and convoluted predicaments facing our country can only be mitigated by a generation of compassionate and competent leaders. In accordance with that vision, BYLC has implemented an impressive number of youth leadership programs already, uniting students from different academic and socio-economic backgrounds.
The application of leadership in our lives is grossly misunderstood and underestimated. Leadership, when wrongful connotations are ignored, refers to the collective mobilization of a system towards a common purpose. Notwithstanding, the concept of leadership application in our individual lives is largely unpracticed. BYLC believes that the practice of that very concept is what our young graduates need to succeed in their personal and professional lives. Youth Leadership Bootcamp (YLB), a brand new leadership, program has been launched with the view of realizing this vision.
Youth Leadership Bootcamp, as the name suggests, will be a rigorous, fast-paced program on leadership and its application in personal and professional life. The program will consist of lectures on the exercise of leadership, simulative negotiation sessions, team-building games, visits to public and private organizations and non-profit projects, peer learning, and other networking opportunities.
BYLC has always believed that people are most effective when they are exercising leadership on behalf of the issues they are truly passionate about. Youth Leadership Bootcamp will therefore emphasize self-discovery and self-motivation, concepts which are underestimated in our increasingly mechanical post-university lives.
The workshop is designed around three central attributes of leadership: exploration, experience and expression. The program will put you in situations where you will be compelled to open your mind, rediscover yourself, set your imagination free; interact and work with other bright young minds and see firsthand how real life problems are solved in leading organizations; and articulate your thoughts and feelings to engender meaningful change. 100 full-time undergraduates, selected from a competitive pool of applicants, will spend three full days in Chittagong, lodging at BRAC Learning Center (BLC), Kazir Dewri.
BYLC acknowledges that a three-day Bootcamp isn’t enough for you to find answers to your innumerable introspective questions, but it could be an important “turnkey” in unlocking your potential as a confident young mind, in charge of his own life to say the least. Youth Leadership Bootcamp will give participants a well-rounded experience which will leave them refreshed and ready to take on the world.