The first phase of Dhaka Tribune's relief distribution initiative, organized in collaboration with contributing partner JCI Dhaka Young, has been successfully conducted with support from Obhizatrik Foundation
Eight-year-old Fahima did not ever have to wait for a meal for more than a day. But the current coronavirus pandemic brought that day for her and her family.
Talking to Dhaka Tribune while standing in a queue to collect food, she tried to put on a brave front and pretend everything was okay, but tears rolled down her face as she was narrating her predicament.
A Dhaka Tribune campaign was distributing daily necessities at Rayerbazar area (Durga Temple road) at the time.
Fahima’s family had no food in the house, and another neighbour had provided them with some food with which they are still surviving to this day.
Fahima's father is a garment worker, and her mother works as a contractual domestic help. Now both of them are unemployed due the shutdown to maintain social distancing. The five-member family has been surviving on others' help.
Their lives may not have been the most comfortable but they have never faced starvation in their lives, she said.
Hasibul Hasan Shahin, a private job holder with a formal education, belongs to the middle-income group. He was also in the queue with a very shy demeanour.
He told this correspondent that he had never had to stand in such queues to take charity from people. But today even he had no food in his house.
"For a couple of months I have had no job. I was working in a renowned private company, but now I am unemployed. The so-called middle-class people are not able to deposit money [sic save in the bank]. I have personally contacted the local councillor, but have not received any response yet,” he said.
“The mayor of the Dhaka North City Corporation announced a hotline for those who are middle-class, like us. I called that number, but did not get any response," he said, his helplessness evident.
When asked how he would he survive if the situation continued for the days to come, Shahin just let out a heavy sigh.
Middle aged rickshaw puller Khaled Ahmed Hira is the sole breadwinner of his seven-member family. He came from Basabo area by pulling his rickshaw.
Hira said that they are going through a time of hardship. Sometimes they are taking one meal a day. He urged the government to provide food door to door, and not only to voters but to all residents in the city.
Fahima, Shahin, and Hira are just the tip of the iceberg in the fight against hunger during the pandemic. There are hundreds and thousands of workless and helpless citizens seeking help, keeping aside their pride, in these tough times.
Around 225 families including that of Fahima, Shahin and Hira received a small help through a campaign led by Dhaka Tribune, in collaboration with contributing partner Junior Chamber International (JCI).
The first phase of distribution was among the underprivileged at Rayer Bazar on Thursday.
Voluntary organization Obhizatrik Foundation and Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) ensured that this distribution took plae in a systematic way.
The campaign is an initiative for underprivileged children and families of Dhaka Tribune. JCI Dhaka Young is the key contributing partner in this campaign so far.
With the funds raised from individuals and organizations, basic food and hygiene products were distributed during the first phase of the initiative. Boxes containing rice, lentil, potatoes, onions, oil, salt, soap, and reusable masks were distributed to 225 families, which would support them for two weeks.
JAAGO Foundation, Prochesta Foundation, Bidyanondo Foundation and Ek Takar Ahar are also partners in this initiative.
The campaign for the fundraising program is in the books at least till next Eid-ul Fitr, and the organization can extend this based on need and availability of funds.
The newspaper has been communicating about this campaign using posts in social media from the beginning of April, and many corporates, brands, NGOs, and people from all over Bangladesh and abroad have shown interest in supporting the cause.
In this regard, the organization needs to raise more funds. Here is a request to our readers to please join our campaign. For contribution: bKash: 01614926838; AB Bank (Kawran Bazar Branch): 4002-436428-441.