On August 19, the UN recognised four Bangladeshi youths as ‘Real Life Heroes’ for their contribution to humanitarian work, including Dhaka University (DU) student and former Dhaka University Central Student Union (DUCSU) member Tanbir Hasan Shaikat.
Tanbir, a leader of Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL) with his team of volunteers collected and distributed food among poor for 116 consecutive days on the DU campus. He also collected donations and raised funds from his friends, teachers, and others to continue his charitable work.
In an interview with UNB, he said although the recognition from UN is a major achievement, he first started to help out the less fortunate out of moral obligation.
“I started the work out of moral responsibility, not for any recognition. Yet recognition from an international organisation like the United Nations will inspire me,” he told UNB.
He spoke about the early days of his campaign. “Lockdown was going on almost all over the country when we started working to provide food to rootless and poor people across the city. Most of them still do not have any specific place to stay. We took initiative to deliver cooked food to them every day.”
However, soon Tanbir and his team realised that this will not suffice and there should be a change of plan.
“It felt bad when we failed to provide some of them because of shortages. At that time it seemed that if more food was prepared, they would not have to go hungry,” he said.
After a while, they started cooking at the Teacher-Student Center of DU and three teams under his supervision distributed the meals in different areas near DU campus. Tanbir continued to feed around 1,000 people for 116 days without any interruption.
Tanbir noted that his activities to help the less privileged has nothing to do with politics or grabbing people’s attention.
“My dream is to make sure that not a single person in this country goes hungry and I want to fulfill it.”
Following his charitable work for the poor in Dhaka, Tanbir and his team traveled to Sunamganj to help out the flood-hit families for a brief period and he wishes to support them for some time more.
“At the moment, people in many parts of the country are marooned or affected by floods. We want to work with flood victims in some more areas,” he told UNB.
However, he also reiterated about the financial limitations his team is faced with at the moment. “We can't do it alone even if we want to. If we had any financial help to aid the flood the victims, we could extend our help to some more districts.”
Tanbir told UNB that he is interested to work on a new initiative that will ensure people’s safe return to work after the pandemic ends.
He appreciated his family support in working for the less privileged. “I have received enough support from my family. After receiving UN recognition, they are naturally very happy and proud.”
The former DUCSU elect expressed a desire to continue in student politics for a few more days. “We want to ensure that students have a suitable environment for study, accommodation and adequate opportunities for research,” he told UNB.
He wishes to continue helping the homeless, helpless and working people regardless of his political career.