The Left-Side Classroom: Donate for change
Kazi Fori Government Primary School, Mirpur. Numerous underprivileged children go there to receive education every other day or week, if not everyday, hoping to learn something new regardless of the situation back home or the lack of proper resources available in the school itself. For families who cannot afford three meals a day, stationery and books are mere luxuries. Some students continue, others drop out.
But that was last year.
Today, the school has a small library which is home to around 500 books, a computer and stationery available for all the children studying there. The number of children dropping out due to the lack of resources has decreased and they are more motivated to want to study. The reason behind this incredible transformation is The Left-Side Classroom, an initiative by Sadia Afrin Binte Azad and Sujan Daring.
Sadia (EEE graduate from BRAC University) and Sujan (IR graduate from Jahangirnagar University) are both Teach for Bangladesh Fellows, who are currently teachers of the aforementioned primary school as part of their fellowship. After a few months of teaching, they observed the problems these children suffer through due to the lack of utensils. They also recognised the children's enthusiasm in reading storybooks, which they lacked as well. To help her students out, Sadia made a post with a few photos of her students on the popular Facebook group DSD (Desperately Seeking Dhaka), asking for donations of storybooks and stationery items. Her post had attracted a lot of attention, which led to a massive influx of donations, some even offering money.
That was August 2015.
Today, The Left-Side Classroom has its own Facebook page through which they manage the donations. This project has also been ranked at the top three of the Telenor Youth Forum 2015. When asked about the reason behind the name, Sadia answered," Actually our classroom is on the very left side of our school, but another reason is the idea of being 'left aside' when speaking of the opportunities and the children themselves." Their projects are not only centralised on providing stationery items, but they have carried out health camps and counselling sessions on social issues (such as drug addiction) as well. Project Scarlet was one such accomplishment under the International Federation of Medical Students' Associations (IFMSA) where The Left-Side Classroom was their school partner. These health camps consisted of medical issue discussions, check-ups of students as well as parents, and distribution of sanitary napkins to the girls. Motivational speakers are also brought in to inspire and motivate the children, which helps fuel their ambition.
From the March of 2016, after receiving numerous requests, The Left-Side Classroom has started to focus on other schools. Their projects vary based on the schools and their needs, since some only want stationery whereas others want a library. Since its initiation, it has come a long way now and they have received help and support from many individuals as well as organisations. Their team of two has increased to five now and they are currently working on a website, which they hope to launch by the end of Ramadan.
When asked about future plans, Sadia and Sujan opened up about the charity organisation, The Giving Tree Foundation. The Left-Side Classroom will be a project under the organisation, along with many other projects they hope to come up with, especially targeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They are currently open to support from organisations and partnerships with schools.
For donations/support, please contact their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/leftsideclassroom/
The writer is a sophomore at the Institute of Business Administration, University of Dhaka.