When I first heard about the Sharathi-an integrated socio-economical development effort- from one of the pulse wire member- Nipo, I was so interested to visit the organization. Finally I get chanced to talk with the founder of Sharathi Milan Banik, a 43 years aged man, to visit the organization which is located at Village: West Guzara , Raozan , Chittagong. Sharathi means a friend for helping in the development of the community. After one and half hour long drive, we-Me and Ankhi (One of my AUW friends) climbed a narrow stairs in an old two stored house. In a room there were two women sitting on two different chairs and working with the files.
The room and the furniture color were peeled and there were seven different colorful calendars hanging in the one side of the room and in another side there were educational pamphlets of children immunization, family planning, saving, HIV and AIDS. As I entered in the room, I could hear the rhythm of harmony and Bangla songs from the next room. I was so fascinated to go to next room rather than talking with founder and the staff members. I requested the founder to meet up with the children, then the founder introduced me with them.
The room was shady with a small library of about 50 books on the wall. Although Mr. Banik said that there are 100 students in the organization but when I met them only thirty-six students including eight boys and twenty-two girls, were sitting together on the mat and playing harmony with bangla songs. Mr. Banik said that in Bangladesh, “staying both genders together is against social norms, so we are trying to go against unnecessary social norms.” I asked to the teacher Tumpa Banik about the students’ attendances, then the teacher said that “some days ago they finished their final examination and went to their relatives home, so the number is few.” After a small conversation, I requested a student to sing a song playing a harmony.
Pooja Dey, a class seven student, stood up and made me surprised saying that “I will play a harmony for you” with a charming face. Then she started playing a harmony with a bangla song “Amader Deshai…..” I was astonished from her talent; her performance was not a less than a professional one. Then I asked to Pinki Das what they had learned, she said “music, drawing, poem, drama.” According to Mr. Banik by May 2010, the organization is going to organize a Sharathi Children’s talent fair where the children will show drama regarding social issues, painting, recite poem and sing songs playing a harmony.”
Sharathi also provided stationary to 51 students in 2009 and educational logistics to more than 100 students. The donation was provided by world vision Bangladesh and social capitalists. Besides, rural children development program, the organization also involved in economic development program which includes saving, credit and Income generating activities, disabilities development program and social cultural program. With the help of the world vision Bangladesh, the organization has provided mushrooms training to the twenty six women for their income generation.
Mr. Banik started to open his challenges with me and said that “people were interested to join the group when I talked with them. However, I have to search our six members door to door spending hours and hours to attend the meeting carrying a meeting resolution under the arm”. He was silent for a while, then he added with a big smile to me, “Taking initiative is always challenging, I have to spend hours and hours waiting our six members in the temples, schools and in my home but today (smiling and in a delighted voice) we have more than 500 members and when they know that I am visiting the organization everyone come to me and share their feelings and asked for suggestion.”
I was curious to know how Mr. Banik is arranging his time because the organization is about 2 hours long driving far from the Banik home, and then he said “this organization is a place where I would prefer to spend my free time”. Mr. Banik has three children and all of them are son who are 9, 7, and 4 years respectively. Mr. banik work has proved that one person can made difference in many people lives although he/she cannot change the world. We all have to learn from Mr. Banik by removing our selfishness.