With the motto, 'Chilam, Achi, Thakbo,' seven friends, Ilhaan Abdullah, Sheikh Nashwan, Ibtesham Hossain, Faraaz Ahmed, Zarafsha Chowdhury, Aneeq Islam and Zareb Islam took up an initiative to help communities that have been harshly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Consisting of students from Sunbeams School and Scholastica, ACHI Foundation started their journey in May 2020.
"Growing up in Dhaka, we sadly tend to normalise the difficult lives of underprivileged communities. Spreading awareness or having discussions on social media alone cannot change their lives," explains Ilhaan, the chairman of ACHI Foundation. "Recognising our opportunities, we started our journey to help others."
During the month of Ramadan, members of the foundation distributed iftar and relief packages to families in need. They intend to support daily wage earners and working-class families. Their relief packages include rice, lentils, onions, salt, cooking oil and soaps, among other essentials. So far, they have distributed relief packages to 2,000 people and cooked meals to 1,000 people. "The work we do might be insignificant compared to the scale of the problem, but we aim to do our best," shares Ilhaan.
Including the seven executive members, 15 volunteers are currently working in the foundation. Each one of them has a designated job, working in finance, human resources and advertising, among other areas.
ACHI Foundation is mainly active in Gulshan, Banani, Niketon, Tejgaon, Dhanmondi, Lalmatia, and Mirpur, and plans to expand their operations in Uttara. When they step out, the volunteers take precautionary measures, such as wearing masks, gloves, protective goggles, face shields and hair caps, when necessary.
Members of the foundation follow a systematic method. They mark circles on the roads to maintain social distancing rules. They also use a token system while distributing the packages, to make the process more manageable and to prevent repetition. "These methods make it easier for us to deal with large groups of people, provided that everyone follows the rules," shares Ilhaan.
ACHI Foundation further aims to provide personal protective equipment to ambulance drivers as well as delivery agents. They also plan to work on pollution and the climate crisis, in an attempt to build a greener Dhaka. "We want to do our part and give back to this country, as much as we can," concludes Ilhaan.