The First Episode of ‘Bridges, not Borders’ Held Successfully

Even though we are more connected to each other in this era of globalization and social media, but how much do we actually know about each other? how much do we know about the history,‌‌ heritage and culture of other nations around the globe? With that aim in mind, Reflective teens in collaboration with Global youth club organised a culture exchange program between Bangladeshi and Pakistani teenagers. Five of our members sat down virtually with our friends in Pakistan on 27th June to discuss our respective countries. The two and a half-hour session started with discussing the COVID-19 situation in both the countries and what they’re doing to cope with the pandemic. The whole session was conducted by Nizar Ahmed from Pakistan and Yusuf Munna, Founder and CEO of Reflective teens was also present throughout the session.  Then our Pakistani friends gave us a brief presentation on Pakistan, which included the geographical information, people and races living in there, traditional cuisines, tourist spots, overall culture and different social and political problems of Pakistan. Then from Bangladesh first we gave some general information about Bangladesh, then we presented our culture dividing it into five parts, namely Literature, Foods and cuisines, Festivals, Tourist spots and heritages, Sports. After all the presentations, we had a very interactive and enthusiastic discussion for around 10 minutes and asked each other questions to know more about the other country. Overall, the purpose of the session was well served, and as quoted by Nizar Ahmed “The whole purpose of this session was to bring diverse people together, because the more you interact with people, the more you know about them, so you see more good on them which promotes a sense of unity and peace between people.”

Author: Abid Bin Ahmed, Executive Member

Ignition of a sense of responsibility towards the ‘special’ community of the society: The crucial revolution for a better world

Recently, a viral video of a nine-year-old boy caught my attention. The Australian kid, Quaden Bayles was asking for a knife from his mother who was filming the entire incident. Despite his mother continuously urging him to ignore the taunts, the constant bullying caused him to become suicidal and ultimately wanting to kill himself by using a knife. The only fault of the little boy was his ‘disability’ to grow taller. According to his mother, Quaden suffers from Achondroplasia dwarfism, a rare bone-growth disorder that makes him shorter than other kids. The Australian mom, Yarraka Bayles broadcast her pain to the world, “This is the effect of bullying. It’s the constant bullying, the name-calling, obviously pointing out his difference. We are not suffering silence anymore. There are way too many people suffering in silence.” The incident reminded me of a famous quote by Robert Michael Hensel who despite being born with the birth defect known as Spina bifida is a Guinness World Records holder for the longest non-stop wheelie in a wheelchair. He said, “There is no greater disability in society than the inability to see a person as more.”

Just close your eyes for a moment. What do you see? Pitch Black? Now, put your hands in your ears. Can you hear anything? What happens when you catch a severe cold? It is hard to speak, right? Sometimes, you have to use sign language to communicate and it is quite irritating when you get mocked. What happens when you break your hand or leg? It is difficult to do your daily chores, is it not? Now, imagine what happens to those people who go through these ‘problems’ every single day of their lives. Yes, I am talking about them who are more commonly known to the ‘ordinary people’ as ‘blind’, ‘deaf and dumb’, or ‘disabled’ people.

In 2017, I appeared for the SSC (Secondary School Certificate) examination, a public examination in Bangladesh for the 10th-grade students conducted by the educational board as the completion exam of secondary education. After the tiring exam, I had a long vacation of 3 months and was thinking of ways to utilize my spare time. When I asked my father about it, he advised me to work as a volunteer at PROYASH, a school situated at Chattogram Cantonment for the children with special needs. I thought it was not a bad idea to spend my leisure time as well as gather some working experience. As a result, I started going to PROYASH marking the beginning of a blissful journey. I never realized that there are so many kinds of disorders people could have until I visited this institution. Disorders like Down syndrome and Cerebral Palsy (CP) were quite new to me but it was unbelievable how much I learnt about such disorders and children suffering from them through my work in PROYASH. Now, let us get to my experience of working at that divine place. I was assigned to work in the ECDP – Early Child Development Program in the first week. This was the class similar to our nursery class, where all the special toddlers are taken care of. This is the class where I met little Azmain, an adorable baby with Down syndrome; Tahmid, a kid suffering from ADHD – Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; Mighdad, Arafat, Shayan, Ishaan, Zarif, Labib and the other little cuties. It was amusing working with these adorable and talented children. It was adorable when little Azmain spoke in ‘gibberish’ or Tahmid would not stop saying goodbye to us while we were leaving, when Zarif would ask me to get him his favorite teddy bear or when Mighdad played ‘Disha Disha’ with me. The second week was as delightful as the first one. Apparently, the third week was the best because on 2nd April, I got the chance to celebrate World Autism Awareness Day for the first time. The day started with a brief discussion about Autism. After that, we all rallied through the areas nearby to raise awareness along with the students, teachers and staffs of PROYASH. It was indeed one of the experiences I will cherish forever in my heart.

In the fifth and sixth weeks, I worked in the Primary (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) class where I met an extraordinary little girl, Shreya (ADHD) who can memorize anything, even the calendar. If you tell her a date of any year she can tell what day it was within a second. Amazing, is it not? This little girl changed my whole perception of children with special needs and their ‘inability’. To be honest, she mastered the impossible; even what ‘normal’ people are incapable of doing. Then, what right do ‘normal’ people have to label ‘people like her’ as ‘disabled’?

My journey in PROYASH did come to an end soon after my classes of 11th grade started but the time I spent there is unforgettable. By working in PROYASH I realized how lucky I am to be born normal. My experience there persuaded me to feel grateful to Almighty for this. I also realized that these kids are capable of doing a lot even some things we ordinary people cannot do and therefore, I prefer to call them ‘Differently-abled’ or ‘Special Children’ instead of ‘Disabled’ because they are not ‘literally’ disabled now, are they? “[By] this most sorrowful way I was compelled to tread, I learned to respect and reverence for every human mind. It was my child who taught me to understand so clearly that all people are equal in their humanity and that all have the same human rights. None is to be considered less, as a human being, than any other, and each must be given his place and safety in the world. I might never have learned this in any other way. I might’ve gone on in the arrogance of my own intolerance for those less able than myself. My child taught me humanity,” said the first American female Nobel Prize laureate in Literature, Pearl S. Buck in her groundbreaking memoir, The Child Who Never Grew about raising a special-needs daughter in a time of prejudice. In fact, the only thing ‘these’ children need is a little love and care, not our sympathy but the problem is the society’s view of the person’s abilities. People often see an individual’s disability before the respective individual but this is wrong. I often observe ‘kids’ our age calling the special children in offensive language, or teasing or mocking them. These ‘Illiterate kids’ do not realize even for a single moment that the special children are humans like us. Sometimes, ordinary kids are scared to befriend these special kids. I want to tell them, please do not be. Be the first person to take a step ahead. Your single step can help create a difference. I hope everyone reading this will try to work for special children and make their family and friends aware as well. In this world full of haters and bullies, it does not take much to be a person to spread love and positivity. After the Australian kid, Quaden’s heart-wrenching video flooded the internet, celebrities including actor Hugh Jackman and basketball player Enes Kanter have spoken out and parents around the globe shared video messages from their children in support of the nine-year-old. The video triggered everyone to stand against bullying of all forms and taught us that we should never be insensitive towards someone’s insecurities or disabilities. We should never forget Robert M. Hensel’s saying, “We, the ones who are challenged, need to be heard. To be seen not as a disability, but as a person who has, and will continue to bloom. To be seen not only as a handicap but as a well intact human being.” In conclusion, ignition of a sense of responsibility to spread love and abolish hate is the most essential revolution for a better world, a world full of love. I know that if we all can work together, we can make this world a better place for everyone.

Author: Nuzaba Tasannum, Project Coordinator, reflective TEENS and Undergraduate 1st-year Student at Asian University for Women (AUW)

Call for Campus Ambassadors

reflective TEENS is an internationally recognized teen-based creative platform which exist to create an efficient environment for flourishing the creativity of the teenagers and prepare them for the future through proper utilization of their abilities.

From 2013, reflective TEENS has been working to channel the creative spirit of the teenagers and nurture it through various methods such as workshops and events. We are planning even bigger for the future and for that, we need our target audience, the teenagers from all across the country. Thus, we are calling for campus ambassadors, the leaders who’ll be leading the students in our events to glory.

What will we offer to you as a Campus Ambassador:
• Skill enhancement
• Special recommendations in rt programmes
• Certificate at the end of the tenure
• Recognition for the best CA


Impact Report | rt Advantage | Teenage Mental Health and Wellbeing

Teenagers around the globe currently suffer from mental health issues more than anything else. And the problem is worse when it comes to countries like Bangladesh where people have mostly zero awareness about this type of serious problems. At an age where they are supposed to take steps to build up their future, we see millions of youths around the world keeps suffering silently from this disease and in cases chose an opt-out system like suicide.

So in order to raise awareness about this issue we invited Tahmida Hossain Sheemu, a mental health enthusiast currently living in Dallas, Texas over our online Facebook Live session. At first, she talked about what to do when we face unwanted situations in life, and how to cope up with those. Then she gave suggestions on how to come out of depression or mental health-related problems. She told that no matter what the situation is, it’s always helpful to speak out your heart to someone. She also advised trying to keep ourselves busy with productive activities during this Quarantine period to be mentally healthy and also to introduce a healthy lifestyle in day to day life. When asked about how can someone help their close friends when they fall in depression, she told always to be cautious about our close one’s activities and try to help them whenever someone thinks It’s necessary.

Tawshipa Jarin, a student who participated in the session as an audience gave the following feedback to us – To begin with, it was honestly great how everyone in the session clarified that even though mental health is considered a stigma, it actually isn’t. I liked how the session gradually proceeded by talking about mental health at the present time as well as other usual times as well.

Tahmida Shimu started with how we can be productive in this time of the pandemic going on, which was great considering everyone gets to invest time in doing something. But like still contradictory, because doing something productive is not mandatory at all.

Also, I thoroughly support the segments of how we are told to seek support from the environment around us and accept failures to move forward. It is actually one of the key issue that either stands in our way to progress or give us a heads-up.

I overall think the relevancy of the mental health issue of this generation was established. And several ways of overcoming those and accepting those with a wider point of view was established. Really enjoyed the session!”

Author: Abid Bin Ahmed and Shusmita Shil