Switch Bangladesh Foundation has been arranging the support service in association with the mobile banking service bKash
People with disabilities have been able to enjoy the Amar Ekushey Book Fair just like everyone else every year since 2016, and this year is no different thanks to the efforts of several volunteers.
Around 20 volunteers with wheelchairs warmly receive anyone who needs their support at the entrance to the fair. In collaboration with Bangla Academy, the volunteers then take their guest around the fair free of cost.
Switch Bangladesh Foundation has been arranging the support service in association with the mobile banking service bKash.
Tarikul Islam Nazim, a10th grader with an eyesight disability, told this correspondent he had been using the service to visit the fair since 2017 and found it very satisfying.
“We normally did not get enough help with moving around the fair, even from law enforcement officials. We would have to struggle a lot without the services of Switch Bangladesh Foundation. I managed to get access to the Sporsho (Braille publication) due to the help of the volunteers,” he added.
An elderly person, asking to remain anonymous, said he also appreciated the initiative and it had made it much easier to navigate the fair.
Bangla Academy normally organizes the month-long Amar Ekushey Book Fair at the Bangla Academy premises and Suhrawardy Udyan from the first day of February every year. The fair commenced on March 19 this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The support initiative was inaugurated by Jalal Ahmed, member secretary of the fair organizing committee and director of Bangla Academy, near the Teacher-Student Centre (TSC) entrance gate of the fair on March 21.
Mainul Faysal, General Secretary of Switch Bangladesh Foundation, told this newspaper: "We have a social responsibility to help people who face challenges while moving, including freedom fighters and people with disabilities. We assist them with moving around the fair as long as they want."
He also said specialized wheelchairs for children were available with the support of Bangla Academy and Child Sight Foundation (CSF) Global.
“Our organization is inspired by the spirit of the Liberation War and the sacrifices of freedom fighters,” he added.
Simran, a member of the transgender community who is among the volunteers, said they wanted to do good things for the people.
Switch Bangladesh Foundation has been implementing various social development initiatives for underprivileged children, cleaning campaigns and awareness development programs across Dhaka city, mostly through the services of graduate and post-graduate students.
At least 139 new books arrived at the fair on Monday, including 50 works of poetry and 30 novels.