I grew up in Miami before moving to Bangladesh at the age of 10. I go to an international school in Dhaka, but I visit the US every summer. I have developed a unique perspective of viewing my home country, Bangladesh, and am able to look at it both as in insider and as an outsider. I am acutely sensitive to the tremendous hardships faced by ordinary people in Bangladesh. I understand the importance of embracing my nation for what it is, and work in every way that I can to improve the quality of life of its people.
When I began high school in Bangladesh, I volunteered with various service learning groups. Of these, I connected most with the Acid Survivors Foundation. There I met Durjoy, an 8 year old boy, who was fed acid when he was a baby because his aunt was jealous of her sister for having a baby boy when she only had girls. The acid burned the boy’s mouth and throat and he now needs to use a feeding pipe for the rest of his life. As I became close to Durjoy, I wondered what kind of life he would lead, as he grew older; if this pain and lifetime burden were not enough, society also treats acid victims as outcasts.
I also met several women who did not let their physical disfigurement affect their aspirations. They went to university and studied to become lawyers, doctors and pursue their professions; by example, they have inspired other victims to undertake similar goals. I feel inspired to continue to make a difference when I witness their outstanding courage and independence.
As more people are aware, the cause will attract domestic and international attention. I am inspired by the strength of these people and know that more will become courageous and independent in pursuing day-to-day life and soon will be socially accepted. This will hopefully broaden the minds of many and encourage others to get more involved with this service.