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June 23, 2004

Badhir Sangha - - a hope for the deaf

From: The Daily Star - Bangladesh - Jun 23, 2004

Shahadat Hossain Riad

Parvez Sheikh, a deaf since his birth, now considers himself a self-reliant man -- a symbol of success to the members of Chattagram Badhir Unnayan Sangha, an association of the deaf.

Parvez, who read up to class seven, became a member of the organisation when he came to the port city from Khulna in search of a better life in 2002.

Parvez, now a young man of 24,works at Fobian Industries Limited, a garments factory, at Agrabad in metal zipper section. He earns around TK 3,000 a month with four-hour overtime duty daily.

"Badhir Sangha imparted me some basic trainings and helped a lot to get this job and now I am a complete self-reliant man. I deposit TK 1,500 with a bank every month after meeting my mess rent and other expenditures, Parvez said.

Established in 1998 at a tiny thatched house at city's Jamal Khan, the Badhir Sangha has now 150 members, including 50 women. It has no permanent structure of its own.

Firoz Ahmed, one of the founders of the association and also a deaf, donated a piece of land to the Sangha to begin its activities with view to making the deaf self-reliant.

The Sangha bought two sewing machines recently from its own fund, but those could not be set up in the office as it is a thatched house. Now some members are using these machines at a mess. They make clothes, including shirt, pant and dress for children.

On the other hand, some make handicraft, showpiece, cane and bamboo goods and some do painting. Two women members of the Sangha-- Baby and Baly-- received Bangladesh Women Association (BWA) prize last year for their outstanding performance in making clothes for kids.

The organisation also took part in different fairs in last two years in the port city to promote their produces.

"We set up stall in the Independence Day fair last year and earned around Tk 10,000 selling out our own products. Besides, we took part in the largest fair in the port city -- Chittagong International Trade Fair this year and earned around TK 25,000, Chattagram Badhir Unnayan Sangha General Secretary Neemai Banik said.

"Apart from this, we also took part in the Bangladesh Institute of Small and Cottage Industries (BISIC) fair twice and earned nearly TK 10,000. We hope we will be able to build a semi-pucca house on our own land soon, Neemai added. He works at a jewellery shop in the city.

Ershad Hossain Rasel, Md. Mohi Uddin and Mir Mosharraf Hossain of the Sangha became champions in chess, carom and badminton competitions organised by Chittagong Deaf Sports Organisation on the occasion of the International Day for the Challenged.

"But it is very sad that neither the government nor any other non-government organisations are coming to the aid of the Chattagram Badhir Unnayan Sangha, Neemai said.

He said that some local NGOs, working with the disabled people, had deprived them of getting foreign as well as government aid.

He sought cooperation of the social welfare ministry as well as government and non-government organisations working for the disabled to run the Sangha smoothly.

© 2004 The Daily Star - Bangladesh