Shwapnochari: A story of changer makers

A group of students are running an organisation in order to bring positive change in their society as well as dispel bad practices from it. Md Aby Yousuf talks with them and shares their story with us.

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‘Bahirmadi’ is a beautiful place at Daulatpur upazila of Kushtia district. This area is slightly developed in comparison with other parts of the district. This upazila has a very poor literacy rate than the others. Only 41.3 per cent of the population has the knowledge or ability to read and write. There are few educational institutions that lit the light of knowledge among the people. Bahirmadi Secondary School is a prominent educational institution of that region. A group of former students of this scool, who are now university students, establish an educational movement for bringing positive change there. They got engaged in this movement from their responsibility to society which was intrigued by sudden drop out of some of their best friends. The headmaster of this Secondary School, Md Abbas Uddin was reminiscing about his best students, ‘They all are full of liveliness and energy. They were the most active participants in different initiatives of the school in their time such as cleaning campus, planting trees and so on’. He believes his students have the ability to bring a positive change in the society and they will certainly do that. He is eagerly waiting to assist his students by any means they ask for and his wishes and blessing are always with them.

This change makers’ group is composed of students from various universities of the country. They worked individually to deal with the existing problematic practices by the society such as dowry, child marriage etc. But they were not able to bring any substantial change; that is why they put themselves into an organisational framework. They introduced themselves as ‘Shwapnochari’― The Dreamer. I had participated in an event with some of the members of this dreamer group at a university campus. We discussed about their organisation, the process of their work and their future plans.

The organisation started its activities back in 2013. They conduct their activities through a different process so that they can bring as many positive changes as possible and also reduce the rate of negative events. They try to bring sustainable positive changes to the society through building up leadership capabilities among young generation especially students. They choose some mentors from a single class and train them accordingly. This formal training is includes co-curricular programmes such as debate, public speaking, reading books and newspaper regularly, communication skills development, raising awareness about different social issues and reminding their responsibilities to the society. Anwar Azam Sarker, chief advisor of ‘Shwapnochari’, says that the members are very enthusiastic and he feels proud of them. He is honored to be a part of this movement.

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‘Shwapnochari’ has some organisational frameworks through which it articulates its activities. They have already conducted many projects under their banner. ‘Project Haatekhari’ is an initiative to provide the first book of a child, especially the underprivileged. Under this project they have provided more than 1200 books to the children. Ritu, co-founder of this team shares his experiences about this project. ‘We enlisted the names of children and their address, then arranged a programme to provide them with books. This programme is a festival to the children because we perform a lot of funny and delightful acts there. We even brought books to the homes of those who missed the programme’, he said. They have already organised many seminars and movie shows to raise awareness about social problems. These seminars are mainly based on the bad effects of child marriage, importance of education, especially higher education, women education and empowerment, family planning etc. They show films mainly focused on societal problems, awareness about sexual harassment and torture of women.

Rasel, another co-founder of ‘Shwapnochari’, added that they conducted several free medical camps and tree plantation programmes. ‘We have a project for dealing with the difficulties teenagers face during their puberty’, he said, and added, ‘Under the “Adolescent Development Programme”, we provide counseling during this period. We are maintaining a very intense relationship with city health care facilities and they trained our mentors to deal with the difficulties during this time because a friend can be more helpful in this puberty period than the doctors’.

This whole initiative is the brain-child of Jobayer Rahman. He said, ‘We are not able to provide financial support to poor or disadvantaged students because we all are students too. But we can be the link between donors and receivers. We made many contacts between donors and receivers directly’.

When the members of this organisation passed their higher secondary level and got admitted to universities, some of their friends were not able to continue their higher education. Because their female classmates were getting married and some of their male classmates became drug addicted. From this experience, they started their initiative so that next generation may not suffer from such devastating curse.

‘Shwapnochari’ is not only an organisation but also a platform to bring changes into the society. They started a movement to eliminate all negative things from the society. They are dreamers and we wish they will attain their desirable goal someday.

Md Abu Yousuf is a student of University of Dhaka.

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