The auto rickshaw of hope | The Daily Star
02:36 PM, April 19, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:39 PM, April 19, 2021

The auto rickshaw of hope

The movement restrictions induced by the surge in Covid-19 cases have rendered several families helpless. People living below the poverty line have been hit the hardest. In such tough times, Nafisa Anjum Khan, a graduate of University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, announced that she would go around different streets in her father's CNG-run auto rickshaw, providing free food packets to impoverished individuals and families. "I posted a picture of myself with the CNG-run auto rickshaw on Facebook. The post had over a thousand shares, and I connected with many families who needed help," she said.

Last year, she helped over 13,000 people under her initiative, Ekjon Bangladesh. This year, she started the distributions on April 14, and handed out 200 food packets on the first day.

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On social media, Nafisa encourages people to donate their leftover groceries. On being notified by a phone call, Ekjon Bangladesh volunteers go and collect the groceries for redistribution. She also accepts cash donations from people outside Dhaka. Her CNG-run auto rickshaw has a banner with her phone number. She is currently receiving over 1,000 calls on a daily basis. "My neighbours are immensely helpful. They pick up the calls and note down people's names, addresses and professions. We prioritise the list according to the people's professions, and select the families in need," she explained.  Nafisa is also helping lower middle-class families who are unable to reach out to other organisations, and want their privacy to be protected.

She further shared that our struggle for independence and valiant freedom fighters inspire her. "The positive response from people, the immense support from donors and the happiness I see when I serve others encourage me to keep going," she added. From the beginning of the pandemic, Nafisa has been spending a large chunk of her monthly salary to fund this project.

Nafisa is also the founder of Ishkul, a school that focuses on crucial life skills that children need, rather than institutional education. It has branches in Adabor and Kamrangir Chor, and supports over 1,000 students.

"We need to fight against the pandemic together. With collective efforts, we can ensure that everybody has food security in these critical times," Nafisa added.

The author is a freelance journalist who likes reading, planning and scribbling. Write to her at mislammonamee@gmail.com.

 

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