Ex manus capere. Detach from the hand.
This expression is best used to describe the very idea of emancipation. As Bangladesh moves forward towards a brand new paradigm of economic possibilities, one of the obstacles in its path is lack of proper healthcare and sanitation.
But, how can a country move forward if it leaves a segment of it lagging behind? Also, how long can a segment be dragged without being offered self-sufficiency? How can one achieve emancipation, economic or otherwise, if their health is left to deteriorate?
These questions arose when two childhood friends, Taufiq uz Zaman, CEO and Founder of Casper Foundation, a non-profit organisation, and Sardin Rahman, Director of Popular Group, were mulling over the idea of development and economic emancipation.
That is when an idea formed. They would put their resources together and see what they could collectively do. Hence, the “Healthcare and Sanitation Project” was formed under the title of “Today's Orphans, Tomorrow's Leaders”.
The choice of the beneficiary was not a difficult one. “The main reason we started working with orphans is because they are often the most neglected and vulnerable in a society. We want to change that and give these kids the opportunity to do that by educating them about health, diet and hygiene,” Sardin Rahman says.
He adds that, if a serious illness was detected during the sessions, Popular would also take the responsibility of its treatment.
“We truly believe we can help these children pursue their dreams and be the leaders of tomorrow!”
The ongoing project aims to address healthcare needs of orphanages and similar institutions where many of its residents face preventable diseases and illnesses due to lack of knowledge and information.
“Currently, Casper Foundation and Popular Group have conducted Phase 1 and Phase 2 of Project TOTL and have directly impacted the lives of 60 kids under the age of 14,” Taufiq says in a conversation with Star Youth.
He mentions that, the goal was to replicate the first and second phases in similar institutions around Dhaka city.
On the second day of the project, the project went to a local madrasa in East Maniknagar, Jamia Ajijia Ullum Madrasa in Balur Math, on March 24.
The school houses 70 students, many of whom are orphans from a lower-income background. In the session, children met and interacted with doctors and dieticians from Popular Group followed by a knowledge sharing session where the children were primed on the proper ways of healthcare, hygiene, nutrition and sanitation. There was also a physical examination of the children. The two-hour long programme also included discussion on the self-sufficiency of the madrasa to improve the overall conditions of its pupils.
The doctors conducted health checkups and surveyed upwards of 40 children under the age of 15.
After collecting the data, it showed that, 29 percent were showing signs of malnutrition and 68 percent of them have anemia or are mildly anemic. Furthermore, a large number of these children, around 48 percent, have some degree of skin related problems. The data will be used to design to address urgent healthcare needs and formulate strategies for their prevention.
Dr Nishat Sharmin Nishi, Nutritionist and Dietitian, Dr Muntasir Sayeed and Dr Mahfuzur Rahman of Popular Medical College Hospital from Popular Group, spoke with the children individually and examined them for further assistance regarding any health related issues. Sardin Rahman, Director of Popular Group, Achinto Kumar Nag, Manager of Human Resource and Administration, and Taufiq uz Zaman were also present there.
The long term plan is to create model projects that can be replicated in all similar institutions around Dhaka city. Casper Foundation is looking to understand the trends in healthcare needs of these orphanages and see how individuals, corporates and other institutions may involve themselves in addressing the needs of the orphanages and the orphans in them.