April 22, 2012

Celebration of Global Youth Service Day 2012 at the Slums

GYSD 2012 was celebrated from the 20th of April to 22nd April this year. In Bangladesh, International Education And Resource Network-Bangladesh (iEARN-BD) celebrated the Global Youth Service day by helping those who dwell in slums, with projects such as Solar Bottle-Bulbs, Earthquake Awareness Outreach and Water Purification Tablet Donation. Volunteering for these projects were the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Alumni, who helped make all the projects successfully come to life.
It all started with a workshop held by iEARN-BD for the volunteers on the 16th and 18th of April, 2012, to prepare for the projects for GYSD. The Solar Bottle-Bulbs, a project planned and coordinated by Gulshan Jubaed Prince, were made and assembled in the workshops. All that was needed was corrugated sheets of tin, a clear, transparent bottle of any volume between 1 and 2 liters, some silicone or rubber sealants, Korean putty, chlorine-water mixture and some cylindrical plastic pipe pieces and you'd have a working Solar Bottle-Bulb that says goodbye to all the daytime darkness woes of slum dwellers and to ease the pressure off the national power grid during daytime. A significant number of YES Alumni members help bring the these bulbs into existence, we made a huge number of bulbs, some of which are kept as surplus, to be used the next time we run this project.
On Friday, 20th April, we went to a slum near Shah Ali Majar, Mirpur. YES Alumni came from distant corners of the capital and again showed their dedication to community service. Volunteers toiled under the hot sun on a holiday to install the bulbs on the tin roofs of the houses. Two mechanics were hired to help with the installation and they took all day to install a number of the bulbs in a slum. It was ensured that the bulb installation did not cause the roofs to leak water. The silicone sealants used were waterproof, as well as the Korean putty. An incision needed to be made to cut the tin roof in a circular shape, and 2/3 of the bottle was placed inside the room and 1/3 outside, where sunlight would light up the chlorine water mixture inside. Rivets and Putty was used to ensure firmness and no chance of leakage. Later that day, we went to install more bottles in Tolarbagh, Mirpur. All the residents seemed to be enthusiastic and received the project really well. Neighboring slums also showed interest after seeing this, but due to time and resource constraints, it could not be done that day. The light was equivalent to 55-60 Watt light bulbs. The people seemed really grateful that they could read and do other stuff at home during the day and not worry about the electricity bill.
Afterwards, the people were given a briefing on what to do before, during and after an earthquake. The Earthquake Awareness Outreach Program, coordinated by Kazi Tamjeed Newaz, has successfully made more than 100 people aware of the dangers of an earthquake situation in Dhaka and how to deal with it directly over the period of GYSD. They were told how they could prepare for a quake beforehand, how to deal with the aftermath of a quake and how to react during a quake. Popular misinformation and myths were quelled regarding quakes, and this may be invaluable when a major quake does hit Bangladesh, upping the survival chances of the people. A lot of prior ignorance was observed, which was due to a lack of awareness programs on the topic due to which the general masses have little idea or knowledge about earthquakes. This project was very well received by the slum dwellers and we hope that this small step can reduce the casualty toll in crowded slums when there is a major earthquake.
Water purification tablets were also donated to those who did not have access and the means to afford pure water. This project, also coordinated by Gulshan Jubaed Prince, was well received. More than 15 families were given tablets as donations over the period of GYSD. Number of strips donated varied from family to family based upon the number of family members in a family. We told them about the virtues of pure drinking water and how impure water hurts our bodies and spreads diseases. We also gave them directions on how to use the tablets and how to purify water. A strip, containing 10 tablets, can purify up to 30 liters of water. On the 21st of April, Saturday, we went to a slum at the end of Golden Street, Shyamoli. There, even more solar bottle bulbs were installed in small workshops and houses. We also donated water purification pills and spread awareness on earthquakes and how to react during a quake and how to prepare beforehand for a major earthquake. At the end of the day, we went to Tolarbagh, Mirpur again to install solar bottle-bulbs there as well. The next destination was supposed to be Abdullahpur on the 22nd of April, to carry out the same projects in slums there so as to reach a greater number of people with our light, but this could not be done due to unavoidable circumstances (hartal). Even though we missed one day, GYSD 2012 was a huge success for us in Bangladesh, and iEARN-BD deserves applause. YES alumni members deserve special praise for helping these projects come to fruition. Special thanks is also given to Gulshan Jubaed Prince for coordinating GYSD 2012. May there be no darkness in our future. Long live Global Youth Service Day!

More Reports:
Solar Bottle Project in K-L Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program Website
GYSD Bangladesh report at Daily Sun
GYSD Bangladesh report and GYSD Website

Reporter: Kazi Tamjeed Newaj, YES-8
Project Coordinator: Gulshan Jubaed Prince, YES-8