Enabling underprivileged communities through education and employment opportunities | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 18, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:10 AM, September 18, 2020

Enabling underprivileged communities through education and employment opportunities

AIM Initiative Foundation is a youth-led social organisation working to improve the lives of underprivileged children since 2016. The organisation primarily intends to eradicate poverty through education, skill development programmes and healthcare facilities for these children.

The Founder Md Sayed's mother used to buy vegetables from some children on the streets. "The fact that these kids did not go to schools concerned me, and I wanted to help them," he explained.  In 2016, he came across a kid who had to take a three-year gap after finishing his PSC exam, due to financial limitations. "I tried enrolling him in nearby schools but no one was willing to take a student with an education gap. I later realised that there were many such students who cannot attain quality education due to financial struggles, study gaps and age differences," he further said.

As a result, the foundation's members identified the root cause of the problem while visiting nearby slums. They found out that poverty and unawareness were the major obstacles to overcome. Through regular awareness programmes, they taught the slum dwellers about the importance of education and after two years, they established the AIM School at Meradiya, with free education, skill development programmes and healthcare facilities for their students. The school currently hosts 101 students, with classes from kindergarten to Grade 5, following the NCTB English version curriculum. "We strongly believe that quality education should not be a privilege; it is a basic human right," said Shabbir Ahmed Robin, Vice Chairman of the organisation.

Through the project, 'Tele-education', teachers of the AIM School are calling up their students to deliver lessons, and giving them homework assignments, so that they can continue studying from home. The organisation is looking for donations to continue this project. Since most of their students do not have access to the internet, they intend to continue this initiative until schools reopen.

The foundation's annual activities include distribution drives of iftar packages during Ramadan, as well as winter clothes and Eid gifts. Through their project, 'Shobar Jonno Boi', they collect books to distribute amongst their students, every February. 'Ghure Darao', is the organisation's signature project that ensures employment and self-sufficiency for low-income families by providing them with rickshaws, sewing machines and vans, among other resources.  "We help them with designing their employment strategies and provide them with adequate training," shared Ruhul Qudus, a student of City University and the General Secretary of the organisation. "For now, we aim to create self-employment opportunities for 2,000 low-income families, once the pandemic subsides."

The AIM School also educates their students about environmental protection with their event, 'Share Happiness through Recycling', during which they recycle plastic waste for toys. Their initiative, Project HER, is a menstrual hygiene and health awareness campaign initiated in 2019 that intends to raise awareness among young women, while breaking the taboos associated with the matter. "Through this project, we have reached out to more than 1,000 young women from seven different educational institutions of Dhaka in 2019. Due to the pandemic, we have now shifted the project online," added Tahiya Islam, the Director of Media and Publication of the organisation.

 The foundation's members also provided 100 PPE kits to healthcare professionals in five different hospitals amid the pandemic. They also distributed free face masks and soaps among underprivileged families in Meradiya, as a way of raising awareness about the coronavirus disease. They also provided food packages to more than 2,600 people, including daily wage earners in Dhaka, Tongi, Rajshahi, and Sirajganj.

AIM Initiative Foundation is also running awareness campaigns through social media videos, infographics and live sessions about mental health, productivity and creativity, among other matters, amid the pandemic. With the goal of enabling underprivileged communities, the organisation marches on with their committed members and volunteers.

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