Making people smile
A smiling face, irrespective of age, warms up his soul. He believes a sincere, warm smile has the power to bring peace between enemies.
Such beliefs made Kamar Uddin Arman embark upon bringing smiles to people's faces as a stand-up comedian six years ago and as a volunteer helping those with cleft lips get connected with different non-government organisations for free treatment.
His hobby to make people laugh earned him a celebrity status in June this year after he clinched 2nd runner up position at Mirakkel - Akkel Challenger 9 at the Indian television channel Z Bangla. He has now been using his popularity in making people aware that the defect many children get at birth is treatable and the treatment is available free of cost.
Arman, who was called Wada Kumar (one who keeps his promises) in Mirakkel, has spread his network far and wide across the country engaging youths in the campaign.
Most of the volunteers from 11 districts, including Comilla, Sylhet, Khagrachhari and Chakaria, who now work with him are actually his fans. Arman met them as they came to watch his shows.
“In my shows, no matter where it is organised, I start my performance talking about cleft lips to raise awareness among people. I then request those in the audience to form groups and collect information of patients in their districts,” Arman said.
He and his volunteers set up the link between patients and the NGOs offering the treatment free of cost.
"Such a tiny effort can change the life of someone with cleft lips.”
A common birth defect in Bangladesh, it is possible to surgically remove the cleft in most of the cases.
Though many people have come forward to lend their support to the cause, initially drawing people's attention to the matter was not an easy task.
His fame from Mirakkel has helped Arman get quick response from people. He now leads a network of volunteers to ensure better treatment of those born with the defect.
Arman is grateful to Lion Mukhlesur Rahman Foundation's (LMRF) chief Nader Khan who first engaged him in this work six years ago.
“I was inspired by his guidance,” Arman said.
A number of organisations in the country have been providing almost free treatment that cost around Tk 20,000.
Arman has continued working with the LMRF. He also communicates with other organisations working in different parts of Bangladesh to ensure that people from those areas also get free medical services.
For spreading his messages about cleft lips, Arman runs a Facebook page "CureCleft" which now acts as an information centre for patients.
Volunteers collect information about patients and post on the page.
“We tell them what to do next," Arman said.
Referring to a recent experience, he said a follower of the page Abdus Samad Raju met a girl with cleft lips while travelling in a three-wheeler at Chawkbazar in Chittagong city.
Raju immediately posted her picture in the inbox of the group alongside the phone number of her family.
The girl received treatment and got rid of the birth defect in just six days, to the surprise of her family, Arman said.
The girl's mother told Arman the family had avoided taking her out because neighbours used to describe her distorted lips as a curse.
Dr Shamim Khan, executive director of the LMRF, said he was very happy working with the young star. Arman began working as a volunteer with them in 2010 and looked after organisational work in Cox's Bazar district.
"We feel very happy. We are proud of Arman who did not leave the work even after becoming a celebrity,” said Shamim, expressing the hope that other celebrities would come forward to work for social causes.