Joy Bangla Youth Award by Young Bangla is rapidly emerging as the definitive platform for the youth. The software developers and people in the ICT sector, for example, have the SoftExpo by BASIS, and the government organised ICT Expo to look forward to among other things. While many of the people in this sector happen to be young people, there hasn’t been any big platform that brings together the youth, regardless of their area of work and interest. Young Bangla, a youth platform created by Centre for Research and Information (CRI), has felt that void. The Joy Bangla Youth Award is now truly an event which attracts and connects youth from across Bangladesh.
The award created quite a jolt from the first time it was initiated in 2015. Much of which has to do with the involvement of Sajeeb Wazed Joy, Prime Minister’s ICT Affairs Adviser, who is the chairman of CRI, the secretariat of Young Bangla. The direct involvement of Joy, who happens to be the person credited for shaping the ‘Digital Bangladesh’ vision and who champions the youth, certainly added a component of certitude and assurance about the project. If there was any doubt, it was quickly dispelled by the momentous follow-up to the first award by the second Joy Bangla Youth Award this month.
Thirty organisations have won the Joy Bangla Youth Award 2017, for their outstanding contributions to promoting youth employability, ending violence against women and promoting education.
Weekend Tribune spoke to five organisations,who represent a cross-section from three different categories of winners. We asked them what kinds of opportunities this award brought them and how they plan to leverage them to the advancement of their organisations.
Innovator, at first glance appears as any run of the mill local book reading club that starts with vigour and fades into awkward inactivity. But you have to look twice to really appreciate this simple, yet effective organisation. Starting in 2006, the organisation outlasted its detractors’ jeer, finally culminating into snatching the glorious Joy Bangla Youth Award this year.
‘Innovator’gives out books written on liberation war to students and gives awards to best readers. So far it has distributed books to seven thousand students registered with the organisation. Convened by Rezwan Ahmed, city councilor at Sylhet City Corporation, Innovator was preparing to celebrate “What the award has given us is quite clear really. It took over 10 years for someone like you to call me and ask about our initiative,” said Pranab Kanti Debwith a friendly chortle. The executive director of Innovator Pranab thinks the organisation’s deserved winning of the award reflects its dedication and perseverance. “Look, I don’t want to take anything away from any organisations, they won because they deserve it. But we have been active longer than many of the other organisations, and that speaks to our strength,”he said. Innovator wants to utilize acclaim of Joy Bangla Youth Award by expand its activities to remote areas and motivate the young generation to read books on liberation war.
Shopno Dakho Social Welfare Organization (Jessore)
Formed in 2013, Shopno Dakho started with a small office and a big dream. The dream is to make modern Jessore for the development of women, children and the youth. The organisation splits its work into 11 divisions, providing disability care centre, computer training, educating about the liberation war, public library,charity, tailoring training among other work.
Answering what they plant to do next after this award, Zahir Iqbal Nannu of Shopno Dakho said, “We want to build a school and rehabilitation centre for the disabled. We want to build a free hospital for the poor.” Shopno Dakho also plans to create a mobile tech service that will provide free technology services to children.
Other works by the organistion includes blood donation, garbage recycling. Shopno Dakho has collected 193 bags of blood from donation. Among its innovative activities, Shopno Dakho takes students from the city to the field to work a whole day with the farmers. The organisation also runs a debating training program since 2009 where it has trained 8,780 students from 97 institutions.
Dipesh Dewan and Shazzad Hossain Mukit founded Quizards in 2014. A Bangla language edutainment website, Quizards “provide quality contents that inform and entertain people.” The neatly designed website features quizzes on history, geography culture, literature, comics, TV serials, films among a host of other areas.
Started as a quiz website, Quizards quickly broaden work to include educational and entertaining articles and infographics. When asked what is the vision for future, project manager Mahfuz Salekin Borshon said, “In two years Quizards aims to become one of the best quality content hubs for Bangla language audiences all around the world. We aspire to become a content-based media company highly focused on native ad strategy through different forms of digital content, ranging from videos to interactive info graphics.”
Supporting People and Rebuilding Communities (SPaRC) – (Rangamati)
The Rangamati based SPaR was founded in 2013 justafter the Rana Plaza disaster. Since then SPaRC is working in CHT as a community-development organization. SPaRC is working both with and for the local community. Itswork focus on improving the situation for women and girls, on community development - promotion and spreading indigenous knowledge and indigenous culture to the youths - and raising fund supporting community people when during emergencies like the Thanchi food crisis, Longadu attack and Rangamati landslides.
“This award has been proved to be a great recognition,” said Tori Chakma, core group member and the focal person of economic development at SPaRC.
The award re-energized the organisation’s members and volunteers. “They are now are determined and motivated to further carry out SPaRC’s core Objectives,” Tori said when speaking to Weekend Tribune on phone from Khagrachhari. Tori hopes that the award will enable SPaRC to overcome the hurdle it has faced in dealing with the local administration, law enforcing agencies and other relevant government organizations.
“We intend to maintain a goodrelationship with the other awardees to work and collaborate together for creating a sustainable development in our communities and in our beloved country,” Tori added. She believes this award is a new beginning in SPaRC’s journey.
Rangatungi United Women Football Academy (Rangpur)
The overwhelmingemotion was palpable when Hanna Hemrom of Rangatungi United Women Football Academy went up on the stage to take the award from Sajeeb Wazed Joy on October 20. A young Santal woman, Hanna, was applauded loudly as she tried to speak into the microphone in quivering voice. Expressing gratitude to Young Bangla on behalf of her organisaiton, Hanna turned to the founder of the football team in the audience and tearfully thanked Mohammad Tajul Islam. Unsure if everyone understood how important this man was for this small local women’s football team, she repeated her words, “Without him we wouldn’t be here.”
Mohammad Tajul Islam sounded as articulate and leader like as Hanna made him out to be whenhe spoke to Weekend Tribune on the phone from Thakurgaon.
“We are a completely organically local team. We don’t have any hired player and we won the under 14 divisional championship just with players from our villages,” said Tajul Islam. “We have been doing quite well actually. We have three players in the national team,” he said.
A teacher by trade Tajul Islam, is the principal of Ranisonkail Degree College. Refusing to take credit for the startling success he achieved forming a local women’s football academy, Tajul Islam takes pride in how the team is comprised of girls from all ethnic and religious background. “The award certainly is helping us now. The girls faced so much social pressure before. They were told that no one will marry them, among other things. But now I think people are starting to appreciate us more,” he added.
Winners in the ‘community development’ category:
Barisal Youth Society, Barisal;
ShopnoDakho Social Welfare Organization, Jessore;
Be Related to Audio Visual Education (BRAVE), Chandpur;
Durbur Foundation, Comilla;
Model Live Stock Advancement Foundation, Dhaka;
Jagoron Club, Satkhira;
Potenga Protibondhi Unnoyon Shongothon, Chittagong;
Kollol Foundation, Natore;
Manobsheba Mulok Shongothon Prottoy, Moulvibazar;
Amar School, Gaibandha,
Uttaran Bangladesh, Moulvibazar;
SPaRC – Supporting People & Rebuilding Communities, Rangamati;
Works For Humanity, Dhaka;
Manob Kollankami Onathaloy, Netrokona;
Shishu Bikash, Naogaon;
Iccheypuron Samajik Sangathan, Sylhet,
and Shadheen, Dinajpur.
Winners in the ‘contributions to the cultural arena’ category:
Kothon Sangskritik Songsod, Jhenaidah;
Innovator BoiPora Utshob, Sylhet;
Mukto Sangskritik Songho, Panchagarh;
Theatre Murarichad, Sylhet,
and Jumful Theater, Rangamati.
Winners in the ‘sport’ category:
Syamnagar Football Academy, Satkhira;
Wheel Chair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh (WCWAB), Gazipur,
and Rangatungi United Women Football Academy, Rangpur.