<%-- Page Title--%> Endeavour <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 129 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

November 7, 2003

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Sabah Saleheen Azim

Utsho Bangladesh is not just a school for underprivileged children. It is an institution that dedicates itself to make the lives of children better by providing education, accommodation, affection and much more. Utsho initiated its journey in 1993 with a mandate of helping underprivileged children. They were basically urban children born to single mothers or orphans. Single mothers, who often have no choice but to find employment, either leave their children locked up at home or at the mercy of the streets. For orphans, the situation is worse as they are defenseless victims of child traffickers and other unscrupulous people.

By identifying this particular segment of underprivileged children, Utsho has set an example well worth emulating. For Utsho does not simply impart lessons to its students. Through tireless guidance and supervision, the children are taught to be enterprising, responsible and independent. Utsho offers an environment that promises a sanctuary from the usual scenes of domestic abuse and violence and other forms of privation. Children are encouraged to explore their academic and extra curricular talents to enjoy their childhood to the fullest. One of Utsho's 107 students, Rupa lost her mother and then was deserted by her father at the age of 8. Although it took her quite sometime to recover from this loss, in the four years at Utsho she has blossomed in every way possible. She has not only excelled in studies and computer training but her artistic talents have yielded her several competitive prizes. Her biggest talent, though, is her desire to learn and to work hard towards a bright future. She is just one of the many children at Utsho who have shown that all they really need is a chance.

The opportunity to allow children like Rupa to live their dreams has come forward through Utsho's 600-strong network of patrons who contribute in various forms. Although Utsho has conceived many fund--raising activities such as dinners and cultural events, the lion's share of financial support is provided by this diverse group of individuals and companies who provide corporate and personal donations and other forms of assistance. It is remarkable that in the ten years since Utsho's inception, almost 90% of the funds raised have come from local sources. As the executive director of Utsho, Mahbooba Mahmud says, 'Utsho is a symbol of the local community's strength. If the people of the local community desire to, they can achieve anything'. By providing a worthy, reliable institution, Utsho has also provided its patrons a way to channel their resources effectively and in the process, allow them to meet their social commitment. It is the patrons' support and encouragement that has enabled Utsho to, proliferate its activities. Through the generosity of one of its patrons, Utsho proudly lays claim to a 2-acre plot in Sreepur. Construction on the new facility, a 250 residential complex, is expected to begin soon and the school is scheduled to shift from its current location to Sreepur in middle of 2005.

Utsho stands for many things compassion, sensitivity, strength against diversity, fraternity but most importantly, the opportunity to support a vision. For the student enrolled in Utsho, it means the vision to enjoy childhood and fulfill life's dreams.




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