Why am I doing voluntary work for CBET? Abdul Matin. LL.B(Hons). LL.M.(Dhaka University). Former Judge in Bangladesh. Currently Senior Government Officer. Luton Borough Council. UK
CBET (Canada Bangladesh Education Trust, hereinafter referred to as CBET) Secretary is a good friend of mine. He asked me on 12.11.2017 to write an article for CBET Magazine. That reminded me of a remark made by Samuel Johnson. He responded to an aspiring writer whose manuscript he had just read: “Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original and the part that is original is not good.” So, I think, this is what will happen to my writing. It will neither be good nor original. No one can deny that writing a book or article is a difficult task. American Author Jessamyn West said, “Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all the punishment thereafter.” My friend asked me to do this difficult job.
Let me start with a writer’s wish first. A writer is walking along the shore, and finds a bottle. When he opens it, a genie appears and thanks the guy for letting him out. The genie announces, “For your kindness, I will grant you one wish, but only one!”The writer thinks for a minute and says, “I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii, but I’m afraid of flying and I get seasick on boats. So I wish for a road to be built from here to Hawaii.” The genie reflects on this for a while and finally says, “I don’t believe I can do it. Consider all the work involved… the pilings needed to hold up the highway would have to be incredibly long, just to reach the bottom of the ocean. Think of the massive amounts of material that would require! No, it’s way too much to ask.” The writer ponders again, and says, “Well, I’ve always wanted to understand women, too – I wish for you to explain them.” Without hesitation, the genie replies, “So, do you want two lanes or four?” I wish, I had a genie and I could ask genie to write an article for me.
What is CBET?: According to CBET website, CBET was established as a registered non-profit organization in August 2012 by the Bangladeshi Canadian community living in the Ottawa-Gatineau area.Their aim is to support financially challenged students in Bangladesh with sound academic records and help improve their socioeconomic status.
Their main aim is to make a difference in the lives of those who are not fortunate enough to continue their education due to financial constraint.
Why is CBET unique? I have worked with many organisations throughout my life. I am even working with some organisations now. I have never come across such a great organisation, an organisation where members do what they say. The best thing about the CBET is, their target is to fulfil one goal that is to help the poor but talented college students in Bangladesh and Canada. Many organisations fail in this area. They will have too many aims and objectives but achieve nothing at the end. Carl Jung, a great Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst said, “You are what you do, not what you say you will do.” This is where we mostly fail. Marian Wright Edelman rightly said, “Be real. Try to do what you say, say what you mean and be what you seem.”
Why CBET is a role model in Bangladesh? Compared to the situation in Bangladesh, where generally honesty is not the best policy, CBET is an exception and a role model for our country. Currently, I am dealing with 40 colleges all over Bangladesh and expecting at least another 20 colleges soon. Not a single college ever reported that they had to contact anybody either CBET’S sister organisation, SHUROVI, Dhaka or CBET, Canada, for the scholarship. In 2017, each college received 54000.00 (fifty four thousand) taka. This is probably a record in Bangladesh that an institution received 54000.00 taka without making even a phone call to any office, let alone making any todbir (a common word we use in Bangladesh to achieve anything from any office) or offering any bribe. So, to me, CBET made impossible possible in Bangladesh. I was talking to a college staff a while ago. They said, their DC office allocated 50000.00 (fifty thousand) taka for the college. After waiting for a year, making at least hundred phone calls and visiting DC office at least fifty times, they finally received 30000.00 taka because they had to give 20000.00 taka to the DC office staff as bribe. Unfortunately, this is generally the situation in our beloved Bangladesh. Of course, there are exceptions and we still have some honest people in Bangladesh who are working hard to make the country a better place. I salute CBET members and I admire what they are doing and the way they are doing. These are the reasons for working as a volunteer for CBET.
Having said that, the other main reason is, I come from a poor family background. My father was a farmer. I struggled a lot to get to where I am now. I lived from hand to mouth and had bitter experience of financial hardship in my early life while I was studying. By the grace of Almighty Allah, I am now one of the happiest persons in the world. Tears start rolling down my cheeks when I remember hardship I had in my early life and the happiness Allah has blessed me with now, in return. So, I think, if a poor/talented student is benefited from CBET scholarship due to my effort, I will get the reward from Almighty Allah. Therefore, it is my pleasure that I am working as a volunteer for CBET. A great person said, “There are two kinds of people in this world: Givers and Takers. The takers may eat better but the givers sleep better.” I want to sleep better by helping the needy students in Bangladesh. CBET has kindly given me this opportunity. Winston Churchill rightly said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” I believe in that principle.
In a hadith, Narrated Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him):The Prophet (peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “The one who looks after a widow or a poor person is like a Mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah’s Cause, or like him who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari] Volume 7, Book 64, Number 265. As per CBET policy, out of 5 scholarships, they offer to each college, one is reserved for an orphan. So CBET indirectly helps a widow too. May Allah accept all the works CBET members are doing and give them the status mentioned in the Hadith.
Let me conclude my writing with a story of a great man whose work matches with what CBET is doing. The story deeply touched my heart.
In 1892, at Stanford University, a 18 year old student was struggling to pay his fees. He was an orphan and didn’t know where to turn for money. He came up with a bright idea. He and one of his friends decided to host a musical concert on campus to raise money for their education. They reached out to great pianist Paderewski. His manager demanded a guaranteed fee of $2000.00. The deal was finalised and the boys began to work to make the concert a success. Unfortunately, they had not managed to sell enough tickets. The total collection was only $1600.00. Disappointed, they went to Paderewski and explained their plight. They gave him entire $1600.00, plus a cheque for the remaining $400.00. They promised to honour the cheque at the soonest possible time. Surprisingly, Paderewski returned the money back asking the boys to pay for the expenditure and fees.
Paderewski later became the Prime Minister of Poland. But unfortunately when the World War 1 began, Poland was ravaged. More than 1.5 millions of people were starving in his country. He reached out to the US Food and Relief Administration for help. The head of that department was a man called Herbert Hoover, who later became 31st President of USA (1929-1933). Mr Hoover agreed to help and quickly shipped tons of food grains to feed the starving the Polish people. Paderewski was relieved. He decided to go and meet Mr Hoover to personally thank him. When Paderewski thanked Mr Hoover for his noble gesture, Mr Hoover quickly interjected and said, “You should not be thanking me Mr Prime Minister. You may not remember this, but several years ago, you helped two young students go through college. I was one of them.”
Paderewski only did a small act of kindness and it clearly marked him out as a great human being. Why did he help two people he didn’t even know? We all come across situations like these in our lives and most of us only think, “if I help them what would happen to me?” The true great people think, “if I don’t help them, what will happen to them?” They don’t do it expecting something in return, they do it because it is right thing to do.
I believe, CBET members are those true great people. They believe in that universal truth, “the beauty of life does not depend on how happy you are, but on how happy others can be because of you. Happiness is what you are, not what you have.” Like Paderewski, with their help, with their act of kindness, one day, we might see a great man like Mr Hoover in our Bangladesh.