The story of an unsung hero of the city
In the DC Universe, Batman is the alias of “Bruce Wayne”, a wealthy philanthropist, based in Gotham City. Despite not possessing any superpowers, he relies solely on his intellect, fighting skills, and wealth to serves the people of Gotham. His face is always hidden behind his mask, but his deep-toned voice makes him distinct from everyone else. A similar character, perhaps, exists in our city, albeit in real life:
Barrister Ahsan Bhuiyan, a philanthropist who has been serving the people of Dhaka since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the city badly needed a superhero like Batman. Surprisingly enough, he has been followed by more than 1,33,000 people on Facebook who never saw his face in this philanthropic work, but only heard his voice. In a country where people tend to follow cricketers, film and TV artists, social media influencers or politicians, Barrister Ahsan Bhuiyan is certainly followed by the mass for a unique reason.
In the first wave of lockdown in Dhaka, 13% people became unemployed, while another 23.31% faced wage-cut (BIDS, 2020). The percentage increased to 68% in Dhaka and Chattogram alone by September 2020. While most government and non-government organisations were struggling to support the nation to cope with the shock, Barrister Ahsan Habib Bhuiyan showed up to the battleground as a “one man army”.
Barrister Ahsan has been working for the people from the very beginning of the pandemic, serving more than 5,000 families, providing sewing machines to women, and job opportunities to those who lost their jobs. Keeping the social distancing measures in mind, most of his relief-aid activities were conducted at midnight on the empty roads and footpaths where homeless people sleep. The number of families served by Barrister Ahsan gradually increased as more people from home and abroad started to contribute.
One of the biggest initiatives taken by Barrister Ahsan was the project of serving iftar to 30,000 people in Ramadan 2020, feeding 1,000 people per day. As a part of celebrating the accomplishment of the project, he served more 2,000 people on the day of Eid-Ul-Fitr and surprised street kids with toys and new clothes. The distribution was conducted by Tanbir Hasan Shaikat, who was later recognized as “Real Life Hero” by the United Nations, while Barrister Ahsan remained in the dark.
On October 5, 2020, a heart-breaking video of a rickshaw puller crying after his battery-run rickshaw was seized during Dhaka South City Corporation's eviction drive went viral on social media, and was viewed 4.2 million times in two days. Many organisations declared fund-raise for the crying rickshaw puller. Meanwhile, one person decided to not wait for funds, and reached out to the rickshaw puller immediately. Two days after the incident, the rickshaw puller received 3 rickshaws delivered to him, one for him and the rest for his fellow rickshaw pullers who had also lost their rickshaws too. The incident shook the nation, making them wonder if there’s truly a Batman in the city.
Barrister Ahsan has also contributed to the development of the Transgender/Hijra community of Mirpur by providing them with sewing machines and groceries. One of his praiseworthy projects was providing formula and nutrition-based food and milk for breastfeeding mothers during the pandemic as well as the new-born babies. Supporting the middle-class families who are struggling to cope up with the economic shock but not being able to seek help publicly is another great aspect of his philanthropic works. He also ensured the stray animals of his neighbourhood do not go hungry, since most of the restaurants were closed where the animals would usually get waste food.
The fact that Barrister Ahsan never sought media attention through his work, neither national/international recognition, makes him a true philanthropist. The interesting fact that this no-face man has more followers on his Facebook profile than Miss World Bangladesh 2017, Jessia Islam, is one of the eye-opening indicators of who we should truly rely on when another crisis occurs. Indeed, if Dhaka were Gotham City, this “no-face” barrister would have been our Bruce Wayne, working like Batman in the dark.