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Road to School Health Camp: Celebrating Victory

Indira Rahman

At a first glance, the morning of December 16 at Tejgaon Registration Complex seemed like any other mundane one. Crows squawked in indignant protest at the bone-chilling cold weather and shriveled leaves colonized at the corners of the typically deserted Complex ground. Gradually, the fog lifted, revealing the sleepy sun, a red circle in the sky announcing the spirit of the Victory Day. Suddenly, there was noise, the flutter of a colourful banner that read ‘Victory Day Health Camp’, and the ecstatic squeals of the 5-12 year old children from the slum communities of Tejgaon Industrial Area as they flocked the Registration Complex ground in barely contained excitement.
Indeed, the 42nd anniversary of the Victory Day of Bangladesh was very different and special for these young students of ‘Road to School (R2S)’, a Tejgaon-based education-centered project run by the youth organisation YouthWalk Bangladesh (YWBD). This was made possible due to the initiative of BYLC Graduate Network (BGN), the prominent alumni association of Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC). Organised in association with BGN, the Victory Day Health Camp ran from 9 am to 1 pm, providing students of the R2S project and their families with free medical check-ups. Additionally, several doctors from Children’s Oral Health Development Foundation (COHDF) were available to volunteer for the event.
The free medical services consisted of oral testing, physical fitness, hygiene maintenance, and most notably, blood grouping. Within minutes, the empty complex grounds were teeming with potential patients. Beneficiaries were also given free cleanliness supplies, such as toothpastes and toothbrushes.
‘I saw a real doctor!’ exclaimed 10-year old Hiramoni after her check-up, a giddy smile splitting her painted cheeks. For the students of the R2S project, who were absolutely thrilled to meet real-life doctors, some for the first time in their lives, an undeniable highlight was the lively face-painting corner, which was spearheaded by several enthusiastic volunteers armed with red and green paint in keeping with the spirit of a true celebration.
 ‘As a doctor, you never really have a day-off,’ said Dr. Manjurul Alam Sagor, executive director of COHDF, in good humor when asked his reason for volunteering during a national celebration. ‘To be able to spend a day like this with children is really as close as it gets. It has been a pleasure.’ Members and supporters of both BGN and YouthWalk Bangladesh attended the Health Camp. Also present was Ejaj Ahmad, founder and president of BYLC.
While it is certainly heartening to see young people come together for a good cause, one has to ask what spurred them to organise such an event on Victory Day. ‘I was pleasantly surprised by the punctuality and honest excitement of these kids – it is indeed very rewarding,’ said Mobas Shirin, BGN’s vice-president, in charge of programmes. ‘I think our [BGN] alums have a lot to learn from them, so this sort of exposure is crucial.’ This sentiment was echoed by Jahedul Islam, president of BGN, on that momentous Monday morning as he helped out at the blood grouping corner. He also said, ‘We organised this event from a special place in our hearts, from a sense of responsibility and patriotism.’ He added that BGN plans to continue these endeavours in the future.
Md. Zahidur Rahman, President of YWBD informed that the ‘Road to School’ project was started a year ago with the vision of paving the way to a brighter future for underprivileged children. ‘Translating the spirit of victory into wellbeing for the disadvantaged portion of society has been a step towards that,’ he added.
In association with YWBD and COHDF, BGN has managed to pull off a successful event. By the time noon rolled around and the sun rose high in the sky, doctors from COHDF had provided medical check-ups and prescriptions to around 40 children and 10 adult beneficiaries.
In light of the recent and seemingly interminable political turmoil, it is easy to lament that the country is going the way of the dinosaurs. But small stories like this stand out as precious hope spots – perhaps not all is lost after all. With youths from all walks of life coming together to foster the spirit of community service, volunteerism, and victory, the future looks bright.




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