A friend of the fallen
Rafid Hoque Swad, a BBA student at University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh (ULAB), looks after injured birds of prey at his 'Chilbari' (Kite house). It all started with the bird Scar, whom he brought from a trader in Old Dhaka.
"I named her Scar because she gave me a scar in our first meeting, even though she was a caged bird. She is a spirited fighter who refuses to give up," shares Rafid, who has been an animal lover from an early age. "Seeing Scar fly away will be my biggest success story, but it will also fill my eyes with tears."
While studying birds of prey such as eagles, he came across tutorials on YouTube and other social media platforms. "I learnt how to nurse eagles and pigeons back to health when I rescued an eagle a couple of years ago. Online platforms have been my most trusted trainers," he adds.
Rafid also founded Doggo Sage, an animal rescuing platform that feeds stray dogs around fifty different areas of Dhaka with the tagline, 'If you donate BDT 50, you can feed one dog.' A team of 14 young volunteers at Doggo Sage has fed 150 dogs across Dhaka so far, from their own pockets, and they hope to continue doing so in the future. Their goal is to feed 1,000 stray dogs in the first phase of this nine-week campaign.
The team of Doggo Sage aims to raise awareness about neglected animals. "Ten of my friends donated small amounts from their pocket money. We have no demands or expectations when it comes to other people joining our initiative," says Rafid, who prefers to work independently, rather than relying on donations.
His residence is currently home to five dogs, five cats, five kites, a rabbit, a hen, a crow, more than 50 pigeons and 10 other types of injured birds.
Rafid's 'Chilbari' is turning quite crowded with each passing day. As a consequence, he plans to move to Keraniganj to open a Doggo Sage Cafe and Restaurant, which will offer shelter and grooming facilities for injured and needy animals.
"I have been bullied for my actions. However, my affection for my winged and four-legged friends has always empowered me to overcome any challenges along the way," concludes Rafid.
The author is Trainee Reporter, Arts & Entertainment, The Daily Star.