Giving it all to others in pandemic | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 02, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:00 AM, July 02, 2020

Giving it all to others in pandemic

Mymensingh’s poet distributes food, donates blood, arranges burial or cremation of the dead

 Ali Yusuf is always there to lend a helping hand.

The 49-year-old poet from Mymensingh has been tirelessly performing humanitarian activities since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.

Ali is the coordinator of one of the three teams of 25 volunteers who bury or cremate deceased Covid-19 patients in Mymensingh city, said Md Anwar Hossain, chief executive officer of Mymensingh City Corporation, who supervises the work.

Hafez Mohammad Emdadul Haque and freedom fighter Bimol Pal lead the other two teams, and volunteers work in groups of five by rotation, Anwar said, terming them as "frontline soldiers".

Till date, the groups have performed the burial of eight Muslim and cremation of one Hindu coronavirus patients, and Ali was present in all nine instances, said Mohammad Rajon, who volunteered at one burial.

"Volunteers led by Ali distributed relief materials to 600 families and powder milk to 400 poor children in the city. They also provided 100 families with special food during Eid-ul-Fitr," said Rajon.

Rajon has also been working with Ali in distributing relief among the poor since April.

During one relief work, the volunteers once came across a seven-year-old boy, Abdul Ahad, who was suffering from heart disease. His van-puller father could not afford the child's medical treatment, which, he said, would cost about Tk 2 lakh.

When Ali shared this incident on Facebook urging people to help with the boy's treatment, many  responded. A total of Tk 2,65,000 has been raised so far.

Once the pandemic mitigates, Ahad's father will start his son's treatment with this money, said  Kabya Sumi Sarker, one of the 100 volunteers who work alongside Ali.

Involved  in a number of cultural and literary organisations, including Mymensingh Sahitya Sangsad and APEX Club of Brahmaputra, Ali has been known for his social work for years.

"We always respond when he calls for any assistance," said Motiur Rahman Foysal, another volunteer.

Motiur, a lawyer and the Mymensingh divisional convener of environmental organisation BD-Clean, has known Ali's altruistic nature since his boyhood.

Trusted and respected, Ali receives positive responses from different quarters when he seeks blood donation or financial assistance for anyone on his Facebook wall.

"I donated blood for a helpless old woman suffering from severe kidney disease during the holy Ramadan and Ali Yusuf organised the blood donation at my office," said Sheikh Hafizur Rahman Sajal, upazila nirbahi officer of Mymensingh sadar.

Praising Ali's philanthropic activities, the UNO said many young people will be inspired by these.

Ali is also in the advisory body of three blood donation groups, including Brahmaputra Blood Kalyan Society and Roktodane Aamra Mymensingh.

He himself donated blood more than 50 times since 1992 on different occasions and also organised blood donation camps, said Shahadat Hossain, convener of Roktodane Aamra Mymensingh.

Ali, a modest altruist, gives the full credit of his philanthropy to his volunteers and family members.

"I have grown up seeing my father, a truck driver, help his poor relatives with full support from my mother," he said.

Inspired by his late parents, Ali continues his philanthropic work with support from his wife Kohinoor Akter, three children and an orphan nephew, who is part of his family.

Though his only earnings come from a printing press he owns, Ali has no complaints.

"I live in a rented house and have to pay Tk 12,000 a month including rent and other bills. But I am very happy as I do not have any wants and can contribute a little to the society," he said.


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