Sunday, September 27

Help the helpers: support the extended hand

In these days of the pandemic, as we practice social isolation as a family, I have been the one designated with any tasks that required venturing out of the house. Even though these trips were few and not too far, every time I stepped outside of the house a distinctly more dire situation was observable. These snippets, when extrapolated, indicate to increasingly difficult times for many. Numerous people asking/demanding money desperately, visibly destitute yet shy alms seekers, and of course a smattering of goonish extorters, are all a large part of the outside landscape.

As even large companies struggle with salary expenses, thousands of little businesses and service personnel who all depend on a steady flow of freelance work to stay afloat are even worse off, and are cutting expenses. As the multiplier effect kicks in, the trickle-down dries up, large swathes of the society desperately flounder on the brink of utter destitution, and many have fallen over. Many of these people are otherwise quite self-sufficient, making do with their hard work and resilience in normal times.

In all of this doom and gloom, the one golden ray of hope is the sheer gargantuan relief effort being run by the private sector. The resolute dedication hundreds of people have displayed in extending a helping hand is truly amazing. While personal networks have been tremendous, so has been social media in bringing together donors and groups of people with relief plans and determination to create a difference.

Ramadan is when many of us pay off our zakats, and do any extra charity we can. In the run up to this Eid, let us join our hands some more. Of course, we can all individually pick families or people we take services from and support them month-to-month. We can also try seek out some of the following groups, who are also doing a tremendous job, for people, and even for the stray animals who depend on our daily lives for their sustenance.


Shahajjo (tader jonno amader cheshta), formed out of the individual efforts of a number of friends. The group has reached more than 2,500 families with relief packages of various sizes. The entire effort has been executed with a different approach, as some of the members have previous experience and current connections with development agencies. This has helped them identify and reach pockets of struggling population who otherwise often fall through the cracks of large-scale relief work. Typically, this includes lower middle-income citizens, small service holders, sections of marginalised communities like transgenders, people caring for family members with special needs — all who have fallen into unforeseen troubles.

Shahajjo delivers various types of care packages to many different urban areas, including Mohammadpur, Old Dhaka, Keraniganj, Mirpur, Hajaribagh, Khilgaon, Uttara, Bhatara, etc. Connect via Facebook or call 01918937840.


One of the newer organisations working for stray animals, taking up the responsibility to distribute food to numerous hungry stray cats and dogs all over the city, is this non-profit. One can sponsor one animal for an entire month for just Tk 750, or Tk 500 to feed 20 dogs once. They also work on rescue and rehabilitation of injured and sick animals and aim to increase awareness and action for protection of animal rights.

Connect via Facebook or call/Bkash 01728871732.

Jagoron (01986070403), Dhaka COVID-19 Crisis Relief (01952720385), Chattogram COVID-19 Crisis Relief, members of Care for Paws, Pashe Achi Initiative (01975888855) are just some of the groups that can use financial support. On the international front, UNHCR, and many other organisations make regular appeals for funds on social media, and even our small donations can make a huge difference in the lives of the people that they reach.

The economic crisis created by the prolonged lockdown is likely to have far reaching effects on the financial situation of millions of people, and although it is the government’s job, it is just not feasible for them to reach everyone in a country like ours. Let us join the effort, however we can.

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