When the clock strikes 6:30pm, people, mostly poor and street people, sit in several rows at Rangpur Railway Station platform, and a bunch of young people start serving Iftar to them.
This has been the everyday scenario since the first Ramadan and the free Iftar service is open to all.
Twenty young people, all students of Rangpur medical, and dental colleges, Rangpur Government College, Begum Rokeya University, Rangpur (BRUR) and Charmichael College, under the banner of Bidyananda Foundation, have taken the noble initiative to observe the holy month of sacrifice in a true way and spirit.
“Over 200 people, including children, join us in our Iftar every evening,” said Raihanul Kabir, head of the foundation, who is fourth-year accounting student of Rangpur Government College.
“Besides, poor people and street children, train passengers who arrive at the station during Iftar time join us too,” said another member Rimon, BBA student of Rangpur College.
The Iftar menu comprises dates, cooked chickpea, puffed rice, vermicelli, bananas, oranges, apples and cold water.
A 51-year-old beggar, Rezina Begum, resident of railway slum in Rangpur, said she had been taking Iftar there since the first Ramadan. Many males and females like her break their fast with the free Iftar, she added.
“It is really hard for me to arrange Iftar every day. If I spend money for Iftar, it becomes hard for me to spend for my Sehri,” she added.
“Such initiative is inspirational for others”, said Sarwar Hossain, a vagabond.
About the Iftar preparation, Raihan said their team, including 12 females, work in small groups. One of them do the grocery shopping, another do all arrangements for cooking while the others cook, serve and clean the platform before and after the Iftar, said Mominul Islam, another member, who is a fourth-year student of BRUR.
For cooking, they rented a two-room tin-shed house beside the platform for Tk 5,000, he added.
Initially, they started with their own funds which finished within the first 10 days. Later, they contacted their Facebook friends who contributed to the initiative through bank and bKash accounts. Also, many locals helped them either by donating cash or some food items, said Raihan.
On an average, Tk 4,500 to 5,000 is spent every day. The fund raised so far is enough to continue the programme till the last day of Ramadan, the members said.
The idea of providing free Iftar first came to Raihan's mind. Then, he organised the other members and formed the foundation. The initiative became successful as all the members had one thing in common -- urge to do something for the underprivileged group.
“We all wanted to do something which would help others. Nothing would have been more significant than Ramadan to start the programme,” said Shimu Akhter, a student of BRUR. “We have to work really hard for this programme, but we forget every pain when we see people breaking their fast in peace and pray for us afterwards. It is worth every pain”, said Raihan.
The other members are Hridoy, Mizan, Rahi, Munna, Naznin, Nannu, Mithun, Shihabuddin, Wahida, Momtaj, Moon, Hasib, Habiba, Bohni, Sumi, and Ankhi.