Looking back at 2020: The ones who made us proud | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 08, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:12 PM, January 08, 2021

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Looking back at 2020: The ones who made us proud

2020 has been a very challenging year for all of us. The pandemic has led to seismic shifts in our day-to-day lifestyles. Alongside the effect of compulsory isolation caused by the demoralizing pandemic, the year has been unbearable for those who have lost their loved ones and insupportable to those stranded across a vast periphery of areas around the world unable to see or physically contact their loved ones due to the norms of medically mandatory social distancing.

With the gradual commencement of mass vaccination throughout the world, we look forward to a more vibrant 2021 which we hope gives all of us a chance to eke out our own meanings of our lives. In what was a terrible and ominous year, many individuals stood out to make the world a better place for the present and future. These are towering paragons of virtue who have made enormous strides in ensuring a more intellectually vibrant and medically safe world.

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Senjuti Saha

The first Bangladeshi appointed to the World Health Organization's Polio Transition Independent Monitoring Board, Dr Senjuti Saha has been tasked alongside others with advising on the progress of the polio transition progress and the efforts needed to improve health infrastructure. Earlier in May of 2020, Dr Senjuti and her team of scientists had completed the genome sequencing of virus causing Covid-19, helping to understand the nature of the virus paving way for vaccine developers to understand it and incorporate necessary arrangements when creating them.

Dr Senjuti and her father, Dr Samir Saha have also been lauded by Bill Gates for their tireless efforts in advancing adequate healthcare in combatting the infectious diseases in the country. Dr Senjuti was also featured in the 360-video, "Infectious Disease Detectives" which was based on how and her institution, Child Health Research Foundation, detect the source of a meningitis outbreak in Bangladesh using IDseq technology, a pathogen detecting surveillance dashboard. Created by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the video went on to win the People's Voice in the 360-video category in the Webbys – the Oscars of the Internet.

Tonima Tasnim Ananna

Lauded by Science News's top 10 scientists of the year, Dr Tonima Tasnim has been at the forefront of pushing scientific inquiry regarding the black holes and their subsequent origins and expansions. She was chosen alongside nine other pioneering scientists by Nobel laureates and esteemed members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. This is a unique celebration of the years to come as we delve deeper into the secrets of the cosmos. Rumaan Alam – In the scene of literature, Bangladeshi-American novelist, Rumaan Alam, has been making a buzz as his new novel, Leave the World Behind, was nominated as the finalist for the prestigious National Book Award for fiction. Tackling the nuanced complexities of parenthood, race, and class, the book has been highly praised by major literary outlets and famed novelist-essayist, Roxane Gay.       

Shaheen Akhtar

The literary scene at home has much to celebrate as Shaheen Akhtar won the 3rd Asian Literary Award for her 2004 novel "Talaash", a novel centred on the Birongonas. The award, sponsored by the Asia Cultural Centre in South Korea, was announced on 1st November at the 2020 Asian Literature Festival. Tackling topics such sexual violence, imperialism, and the harsh realities of warfare, the book will be adapted as a performance piece for the upcoming year's Asia Literature Festival with the author scooping prize money of 20 million Won. 

Sadat Rahman

Sadat Rahman, a 17-year-old, won the 2020 KidsRights International Children's Peace Prize, an award won previously by Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg, for creating a mobile app to help vulnerable teenagers to report cyberbullying and cybercrimes. His anti-cyberbullying app, which goes by the name, "Cyber Teens", gives its users tips about internet safety and a platform to report any cyberbullying without fear. The app, which has brought together social workers and police, has helped over 300 victims of cyberbullying halting the spread of fake social media accounts and providing support for mental health issues. Starting in his district of Narail, Sadat has created "Cyber Clubs" in the schools in his area expanding the frontier of digital literacy and hopes to broaden the use of the app further in the country to curb the scrounge of online criminality targeted at teenagers. 

SM Anamul Arefin

In a time where wearing masks has been declared mandatory, Anamul Arefin developed face shields using his 3D printer helping doctors, nurses, and health workers as they treat people infected with Covid-19. The idea was so successful that BRAC and other innovative labs picked up the idea to order face shields for frontline workers. 

Saiful Islam

Architect Saiful Islam, an associate professor at North South University, won an award under the Residential Building Category for his project in Brahmanbaria, the Jamshedpur High School Hostel. The hostel caters to a small group of children from poor families lacking the resources to educate their kin. The International Academy of Architecture (IAA), an NGO of Consultative Status with the UN (ECOSOC), gives the INTERARCH award since 1981.  

Ruhul Abid

Bangladeshi- American professor at Brown University, Ruhul Abid and his organization, Health and Education for All (HAEFA) was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize this year. His non-profit organization provides free health care to underprivileged people and competency training to aid in managing the curbing of coronavirus transmission in Rohingya refugee camps. 

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