Md Tuhin Alam of Uttar Citki in Jhalakathi's Kathalia upazila is the kind of teacher both students and parents hope for.
Well qualified, with first class results in his 2014 master's degree from BM College in Barisal, Tuhin Sir is yet more renowned for the care and dedication he demonstrates towards students. That he cannot stand or walk is of no consequence, for the simple reason that Tuhin refuses to let it be.
“I never think of myself as disabled,” Tuhin says. “I work hard all day long as though I am physically strong.”
It was while studying in class three in 1981 that Tuhin contracted polio, the disease that would take control of his body and leave him bedridden within two years. Born into a family of village farmers who could little afford treatment, Tuhin's parents nonetheless took him to numerous hospitals, scouring the country for renowned doctors, hoping for his recovery.
Although in 1987 there seemed to be a little improvement, with Tuhin after treatment able to sit and move slightly without standing, hopes were ultimately dashed. Tuhin lost his ability to stand and walk permanently.
“I became fully dependent on others,” says Tuhin, “My parents and sisters used to take me from one place to another in their arms.”
Despite his physical impairment, Tuhin's mental condition remained as sharp as ever. “Villagers laughed when I took readmission to class 5 in 1989,” he recalls, “They called me mad. But I was determined nothing could stop me completing my education.”
After passing his Secondary School Certificate in 1995 and Alim in 1997, Tuhin graduated from Mollar Hat Degree College under the National University in 2001. He started teaching in 2010 and currently works at Paschim Citki Government Primary School.
“Tuhin Sir's classes are always enjoyable,” says class-five student, Hasib. “He always inspires us to study.”
“If we miss school, Tuhin Sir will phone our parents to see if anything is wrong,” says another student, Monami, “and if ever he is absent, we know the day will be boring.”
The school's head teacher Reba Rani Howlader has nothing but praise for Tuhin's efforts. “He is certainly punctual, usually arriving at school early in the morning and often leaving late into the evening, taking time to care for the trees in our school grounds.”
“The students will follow any kind of instruction given by Tuhin,” she adds. “Really his success and contribution to school life is extraordinary. Despite his physical condition, I have to say, I've never seen in him anything to be called disability.”
Tuhin's wife Hafsa Yeasmin is justifiably proud. “He takes good care of me and provides for our household,” she says, “A better husband no wife could want.”
With the ambition of one day working for people with disabilities, Tuhin continues to live his life to the full. “Physical disability is not really disability at all,” he says, “The only true disability a man can have is idleness.”