A ray of hope for the less fortunate | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 04, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:23 AM, September 04, 2020

A ray of hope for the less fortunate

Sombhabona is a registered social welfare organisation that works for underprivileged children in Bangladesh. Ever since their inception in 2011, they have been providing quality education to children, to shape them into productive members of the society. They also aim to build shelter homes for underprivileged communities. “We believe these children are an asset to our country,” says Sombhabona’s Co-founder, Ariful Islam. “If we can ensure their quality and skill-based education, we can build a bright future for them. We are developing an ecosystem where a child will grow up in a nurturing environment.”

Sombhabona's Pushpokoli School is a free, open institute for underprivileged children. Their lessons revolve around patriotism, discipline and health awareness, among other things. They have two branches of the school, one in Mirpur 2 and another in Dhanmondi, facilitating education for 200 children. Their institute, Pushpokoli Academic School Kalshi, is in Mirpur 12, where they currently have 95 students. This project has a duration of five years, after which the children are enrolled into secondary education programmes.

Sombhabona's Mahafuz Merit Scholarship is named in memory of Mahafuz, a volunteer of the organisation, who passed away in a road accident in 2014. Through this scholarship, they help underprivileged children to continue their studies, by distributing educational materials among them and paying their tuition fees. The students further receive school admission and exam fees as well as free house tuitions. So far, this scholarship has been awarded to 10 students. "We want to rehabilitate our students, especially those who have no homes and families. We want them to be able to go to school and have a place to live," says Mushfika Nishat, Secretariat of Organisational Relation, Sombhabona. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the teachers of Sombhabona's schools have been visiting their students in the slums on a weekly basis to check on them and remind them and their families about the health risks related to the coronavirus disease. They have further delivered solutions of the course materials to their students, facilitating a study-from-home initiative. Since March, they have been providing grocery packages to the families of their students. They are also accommodating some students for the time being at their open school in Dhanmondi.

Sombhabona's project, Onindito Naree, is for underprivileged women, especially the mothers of their students, facilitated at Pushpokoli School. It trains women in tailoring, showpiece making, boutique management and handicrafts making for small, cottage industries, providing them with job opportunities. Currently, this project is serving 15 women.

Sombhabona arranges different events, including Pushpokoli Book Festival, Sports Festival, Eid Festival and Boshonto Boron for the children. Every Eid-Ul-Azha, their volunteers distribute meat among underprivileged communities. At their annual event, 'Esho Moja Kore Khai,' they distribute beef and polao among destitute children in Dhaka. They also run different awareness, cleanliness and blood donation campaigns. In this pandemic, the organisation provided food packages to nearly 6,000 people across 1,335 families. This year, they plan to ensure skill-based jobs for 100 unemployed women through Onindito Naree. Over the years, Sombhabona has come a long way, with unconditional support from their Chief Advisor, Mohammad Muslim Chowdhury, Comptroller and Auditor General of Bangladesh and Mohammad Tofazzal Ali, Executive Director of Standard Group.

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