Shouhardo is a food distribution programme of North South University Social Services Club. Tanzila Zerin, a member of NSUSSC, writes about the initiative
TROUBLING times call for immediate solutions and at present, the whole world has been shook by the COVID-19 pandemic. The following series of unfortunate events are continuously hindering the lives of all people. So, in this time of crisis many have to step up in order to help one another for survival during this pandemic. COVID-19 is an infectious virus that spread from one city of a country to nearly the whole world within the span of a few months. The virus has left a damaging effect in the basic operations of any country. It has affected multiple sectors including medical, tourism, transport, education and many more.
Students can no longer go to their educational institutions to study, transportations have slowed down, the health sector has become overwhelmed with the sudden outbreak and the economy is collapsing. In the given circumstances many non-profit organisations have started to take philanthropic initiatives in order to make up for the lack of balance in the economy.
In a country like Bangladesh, the marginalised population are affected the most as they cannot go out to earn their daily necessities. This pandemic requires a lock-down to flatten the curve of the number of coronavirus cases. Such lockdown has shut down operations of large industries where low wage-earning workers worked to earn a hand-to-mouth living, now that they are unemployed, they are unable to provide basic necessities like food, shelter and medicine to their family and themselves. In order to avoid catastrophe, they need the support of the affluent portion of the population. If we as a society fail to support and protect the people, it does not set a good example for the future generations. And it would be harder to sustain a moral value in the society that would prioritise material gains over life.
North South University is one of the best private universities in Bangladesh. It has different clubs that conduct different sorts of activities and events. Only one club dedicates itself to social service work and that is North South University Social Services Club. NSU Social Services Club has been addressing social problems for a long time, likewise in an effort to ensure lesser sufferings during this pandemic, they have started a welfare campaign called ‘Shouhardo’.
As economically marginalised people from all over Bangladesh are failing to gather staple foods, the club has decided to distribute food packages to as many people as they can afford to. The objective of this initiative is to provide to those who are unable to fend for themselves in the current circumstances. And so, through this event anybody could easily contribute and support them for their survival under the tough conditions. As the club started collecting donations from May, they also brought the joy of Eid to many households by providing food packages.
NSUSSC has a 25-year long legacy of altruism. They annually hold several charitable events such as blood donation drive, joy for Eid, onushongo, iftar distribution and Eid clothing, annual dua mahfil, flood relief distribution, winter clothing drive, amar pathshala and socio camps. Each event significantly contributes to specific social causes. Such is the dedication that the club shows towards resolving societal problems. But along with many other operations that have been halted due to this outbreak, initially so had the general club activities. But distress does not cease to exist, and neither do the good Samaritans of NSUSSC. They geared up and utilised the online portals in order to successfully execute their new event Shouhardo.
Along with many other similar humanitarian projects, Shouhardo was aimed to distribute staple foods to the underprivileged population of our country. Since the outbreak they have been posting daily updates about the number of affected and recovered cases of coronavirus on social media along with guidelines on how to be safe. The information they give are collected from legitimate sources such as DGHS and IEDCR.
They are also providing continued service of blood donation activities during this crisis. Some members of NSUSSC have even started to volunteer in other independent NGO’s. NSUSSC remains as the symbol of hope for its members and beneficiaries.
Shouhardo was successfully initiated during this pandemic time. Since then through online media campaign and several contacts a donation program was effective. People had options of paying through Nagad, Bkash and Rocket so that all mediums were made available for donation. The club even availed the option to make payments through banking services too.
Needless to say, all opportunities were made to benefit the purpose of the event. So far, they have successfully supplied to different regions in multiple districts such as Dhaka, Chattogram, Feni, Bogura and Cox’s Bazar. As all members were unable to distribute packages during this crisis, they had volunteers stationed at these regions to help out many families. The contents of the food packages were rice, lentil, oil and salt. The distribution programmes were all conducted by following physical distancing guidelines.
Many families have benefitted from the food packages as the club made sure to provide enough for at least a month. If this programme would not have been active then the under privileged people would have been forced to go out during this crisis. In order to flatten the curve, the general public needs to maintain physical distancing. As this virus spread primarily through human interactions it is imperative that all citizens should stay in. In theory, this is an ideal solution but in reality, different people have higher priorities set in their minds, and so taking preventive measures sometimes seem to be the last of their concern. Hence, NSUSSC keeping that in mind made sure that no lockdown guidelines may be violated and continued to provide social service work so that the underprivileged did not have to risk their lives in order to get a meal.
At the end of the day, the event was successful for the many benefactors and volunteers who dedicated themselves to the campaign for no personal gains for themselves but only out of the goodness in their hearts. NSUSSC remains forever grateful to the kind souls who have made each of their events possible, without the proper initiative the needy could not have been helped and without the required contribution the campaign would not have been a success.
As long as we stand in solidarity to support each other during crisis, we shall persevere and conquer this vicious virus. COVID-19 has interrupted with everybody’s daily lives, none are left unaffected from this virus. Even the most influential people in the world are living in fear of it. So evidently the adversity that comes with the virus is far more disadvantageous for the low-income members of the society. And that is why North South University Social Services Club stands to organise events to support alleviating any cause of suffering in the society. NSUSSC believes that in these worse times, it is our responsibility to help those who are getting affected due to the lockdown. The activities of the campaign are halted due to the current situation, but the club members are looking forward to reinitiating the event soon.
The members of NSUSSC would like to express their hearty gratitude to all the benevolent people that have donated to the ‘Shouhardo’ campaign and made its successful execution possible. The information about the donations progress can be found on the NSUSSC website, Facebook page, Linkedin and Instagram account.
Tanzila Zerin is a member of North South University Social Services Club
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