Often times when comprehending solutions for people, especially children from a less privileged background, the noble intentions lean towards ideas of sustainable employment. The underlying assumption is that the best way to empower an individual is by creating a source of income for them. While this itself is a great idea, sometimes the source of income does not align with an individual's interest or skill. Such a person would then find their development, financially or even professionally, to be stymied. A group of surfers in Cox's Bazaar, comprising of both males and females, from a less privileged background have made great strides in proving that empowerment doesn't always stem from a monetary gain to be made; it can simply be excelling in something that you love.
Critcalink, an organisation that fosters the building a network of volunteer emergency First Responders, realised that this brand new narrative of empowerment was one to be shared. Teaming up with the surfers, they brought the latter to Dhaka, where the boys and girls were made busy sharing their inspirational stories with a wide variety of people and groups and learning important life lessons themselves. Criticalink's purpose for this was to promote female empowerment, sporting for good health, emergency junior responder training and narrowing the growing gap between the so-called privileged and underprivileged societies of Bangladesh.
The surfers kick-started their journey at International School Dhaka, where they taught two batches of students basic skateboarding techniques. More importantly, they also got the chance to share their stories. Many of the surfers had previously resorted to selling trinkets on the beach. Today, through sheer will power and a good support system, they are on their way to becoming famous surfers and lifeguards of Bangladesh. Afterwards, they went off to The Daily Star where they toured the office, met the editor Mahfuz Anam and even got the chance to see a live performance by singing sensation Minar.
Born to Smile, a school started by a social organisation was next on the itinerary. Here the children had a lot of memorable interactions with the students and then it was off to another skateboard practice session. Over the next two days, the children would go ZH Sikder Women's Medical College and Hospital, the Microsoft Office, attend yoga sessions with Shazia Omar, visit the parliament building, Liberation War Museum, Shaheed Minar, Dhaka University and many other places. The overall project was one rife with unforgettable experiences and helped the surfers boost their confidence and expand their horizons. The surfers of Cox's Bazaar are the changemakers in their own society. Through their own grit, they have shattered the many stereotypes. They have blazed their own trail and rode on the waves of the flame they set alight. The surfers, and Criticalink for their efforts, should both be applauded.