On World Humanitarian Day (August 19), we are paying tribute to the real-life heroes who have committed their lives to helping others during the unprecedented crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic. We thank these agents of positive change. Since the beginning of the outbreak in Bangladesh in March, UNDP has been supporting people in different capacities and enabling people to be #RealLifeHeroes for their communities. Here are the stories of such exemplary humanitarians.
Champa Das, a trained youth leader
Champa Das, a trained youth leader of the Dalit community, has been distributing relief packages as part of UNDP’s Human Rights Programme. She has observed the struggle of Dalit people in Satkhira’s Tala area and helped organise relief efforts there, also playing a key role in awareness-raising. Champa is a beacon of light in her community and a young leader in humanitarian work.
Al Markazul Islami
Managing the dead bodies of those who passed away from Covid-19 is a critical public service during this crisis. Although no evidence has been found of infections from dead bodies, maintaining a strict safety protocol remains key, alongside respecting the dignity of the dead, their religion and culture, and their family’s sentiments. UNDP’s Disaster Response and Recovery Facility (DRRF) provided capacity-building support to Al-Markazul Islami, Bangladesh (AMI,B) for better, safer burial management to eliminate all chances of infection. The organisation has since continued its services to help thousands.
Mahmudul Hasan | Communications Officer, UNDP Cox’s Bazar Crisis Response Office
The Bangladeshi summer isn’t ideal for wearing a plastic safety suit, but that’s the least of my worries. The purpose of my work is to give a voice to the communities of Cox’s Bazar, so I persist. On World Humanitarian Day, I pay tribute to humanitarian workers who serve under difficult conditions and climates, to make the world a better place.
Habibur Rahman | CPP Volunteer, Cox’s Bazar
Being a frontline volunteer isn’t easy, but it is essential. Along with other volunteers of Cyclone Preparedness Programme, I have been supporting the local government in awareness and response activities during the pandemic. I feel proud to be able to make a positive contribution in the lives of so many through my work, and I hope I get to keep helping people.
Nazma Begum, Rangpur Sadar, Rangpur
For Union Parishad Member Nazma Begum of Rangpur Sadar Upazila’s Khaleya Union, staying home to keep herself safe wasn’t even a priority when those in her area needed her help. From making lists of beneficiaries and people in quarantine to ensuring relief goods reach the right people, Nazma has been busy.
“Though I was taking all the necessary precautions, there was still a risk in going out and working. So I was relieved to have a complete set of PPE, thanks to Efficient and Accountable Local Government (EALG) project of UNDP!” said Nazma, “This added layer of safety motivated me to continue working for my community with confidence,” she said.
Khairul Islam, Kaunia, Rangpur
As an elected member of Sarai union parishad, Khairul Islam felt it was his duty to raise awareness among people on Covid-19. “I follow and encourage everyone to follow the health guidelines, such as wearing a mask and washing hands,” he said.
“I am also working to bring aid to the unemployed and poor people. Recently, I received a set of PPE from Efficient and Accountable Local Government (EALG) project of UNDP, which has greatly improved my safety. Now I can do more for my community,” said Khairul
Dr J Taher Renesa, Kishoreganj, Bangladesh
As a doctor of a local hospital, Renesa stuck to his “responsibility to the public” – something he feels he is bound to by oath – and fought on the frontlines against the Coronavirus pandemic. When he himself contracted the virus, despite the stress of being in isolation and stigmatized; and the physical strain, he continued to work the frontlines by providing consultations to Covid-19 patients through the National Call Centre ‘333’
“I was bed-ridden, but I thought at least I can keep up the fight using telemedicine,” Renesa said.
Subarna Roy Lipa, Boalmari, Faridpur
A primary school teacher, Lipa felt that she just could not stand by and watch as the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown wreaked havoc on the education of her students. She became an advocate and ambassador for e-learning and has till now shared more than 1900 digital content with her colleagues to help them prepare for online classes. She has taken over 110 online classes for pre-primary and primary level students so far via web and social media platforms and have gone as far as personally contacting students and parents to encourage children to participate in online classes.
“In a crisis as serious as the one the world is facing right now, I want to do as much as possible to ensure that the negative effect of the pandemic on the education sector is minimized,” Lipa said.