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A Unique Endeavour in Old Dhaka
--Shehzad Aman

Many a people are ready to talk about the possibilities of earthquake in our capital city, Dhaka, but a rare exception among them are prepared to show the ways in which the loss or damaged can be minimized if this devastating natural calamity take place anytime in near future. With volunteering spirit and volition in their heart and mind, Members of House of Volunteers have shown this bright example recently in their Earthquake Awareness Campaign where House of Volunteers, Dhaka University (HoV, DU) in collaboration with House of Volunteers, BUET (HoV, BUET) have shown some effective as well as scientific ways of staying safe to the future generation of the country. The campaign was inaugurated at Armanitola Government High School in Old Dhaka on 14th June, the school that has a heritage of over hundred years. This is a signature campaign of House of Volunteers, Bangladesh (HoV, BD) which will be continued for next few months at different schools of Old Dhaka.

The Campaign was designed in three phases. In the first phases the volunteers of HoV, DU and HoV, BUET went to Old Dhaka in a body to conduct a survey. Old Dhaka was chosen by House of Volunteers, Bangladesh as most of the establishments of this area are old and archaic and if earthquake occurs, this particular area will be affected more than any other area of the capital city. The survey caters the necessity of judging the feasibility of running the campaign. The teams from BUET and DU talked with the officials of the schools and tried to realize the possibility of running the event on those selected schools. Number of student, the time schedule of the classes, and the presence of uninterrupted electricity were the matter of concern while the survey was done. Volunteers got positive response from the admins of most of the schools.
In the second phase, DU and BUET team met together, designed the arrangement of the campaign and aggregated the resources like projectors, laptops, banners etc to successfully conduct the campaign. A team from BUET came to Armanitola School for getting assurance of the supports and facilities required for the event and they got it from the officials as well.

In the third phase, the project was implemented with all its vigor and vitality. A good number of vibrant volunteers reached Armanitola Government High School within 9:00 a.m. to assist the event. There were two sessions (10a.m. to 11: 15 a.m. and 12:00 a.m. to 1: 30 p.m.) where the presenters from both DU and BUET were pro-active to provide the students with profound understanding on the matters like earthquake. As the students were very young, the presenters translated the critical aspects of the earthquake in simple and easy language. The definition of earthquake, the reasons behind it, pre-caution to remain safe in the time of earthquake, and surviving after it were the matters of discussion in the presentation where the presenters presented the whole matters very lively with the help of MS Power Point including eye-catching and interesting graphics. Keeping helmets in the home, wearing it if the earthquake occurs, and keeping fire-extinguisher in the house were some points to be shared with the students as the preparation for this uncertain calamity. In the same way, the dos and don’ts while the earthquake outbreaks and the measures can be taken afterwards were also discussed during the verbal training session. Relevant videos were also an excellent addition to the session to make the audience more interested and informed.

All the students of the schools paid their utmost interest to the presentation with great enthusiasm. As it was the first campaign, the volunteers were little bit of suspicious about the participation of the students to the whole process, but when the question-answer session begun after the presentation had been done, they discovered immense joy and spirit within the students and were really amazed. Students asked so many amusing and unexpected questions that the volunteers were greatly delighted by seeing the creativity and exceptionality in their thinking. Students asked the questions like what would they during the earthquake if they were on a boat, what will be happen if they were sleeping on that time etc which really astonished the volunteers. However, the volunteers of BUET and DU tried to solve the query with their technical and practical knowledge and the students found themselves to have a good sense on the complex but important matters of earthquake.

The outcome of the campaign lies in creating a good understanding and awareness about earthquake. “I’ll never be afraid of earthquake as now I know how to save myself.” said Fahad, a student of class 6. Azad, another student of class 9 told, “Now, I’ll talk to our landlord to repair the old establishment of our house as it’s so important for the future of the inhabitants.” The volunteers had given their best effort to complete the event successfully and they believe they did it. They took it as a valuable experience as they have tried to do something better, something necessary for the community. The motto of House of Volunteers is to bring low cost, high impact solutions for the society, meanwhile the volunteers believe they did something that is really sustainable and added value to the community. Abrar Hossen Rafi, a volunteer of BUET puts in, “This experience really enriched me as it was a very good chance for me to show the leadership traits in community activities.” Jisan Mahmud, a DU volunteer expressed his high satisfaction by saying, “I always wanted to be involved in that kind of social actions which is sustainable; this time I believe I have made it.” The Principal of Armanitola Government High School also inspired the students and re- invites them to come to the school premise once again with this type of unique initiative.

Earthquake Awareness Campaign is not the campaign of single day; rather it’s a continuous process to make the new generation aware against this virulent natural calamity that may show its ugly face any time in near future. A life saves is saving a lot. This exceptional campaign aims at protecting the invaluable life and property of the people in the adverse circumstances and minimizing the loss to a greater extent. The other interesting part to note was the smooth working dynamics between the HoV, DU and HoV, BUET. Here’s to hopping a whopping success in the endeavor and to all the mighty volunteers. DU and BUET team believes they can really put a mark which is going to be really effective as well as sustainable to the society.

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