Sir Fazle Hasan Abed's sudden death leaves the nation and a host of people abroad both saddened and shocked, for he was not known to have suffered from many physical complications. Notwithstanding his unparalleled achievements, the man preferred to lead a quiet and unassuming life. The many accolades including the knighthood he received for the pioneering role in poverty alleviation not only in this country but also beyond could not make any difference in his philosophy of an unpretentious life. Maybe, this is why he abhorred any publicity of his deteriorating health. Or, this is how a noble soul leaves this mundane world for the eternity in peace. At 83 his is a death neither in a ripe age nor quite untimely but perhaps he had a premonition of his life's end and so retired from the position of CEO (chief executive officer) in order to hand over the responsibility to someone recently.
No, Sir Abed did not die like another illustrious person, former president of India Abdul Kalam while delivering lecture at an educational institution. Dr Adbul Kalam cherished for such a death. Whether the founder of BRAC also nurtured any such desire to breathe his last while at work for his organisation is not known. After all, BRAC and the pioneer of many programmes for the poor are inseparable. That the larger than life personality could in all humility manage it with dignity remained a speciality till his death. Almost unannounced did he seek medical care at a city hospital and leave this world. But a personality of his ilk has left such indelible footprints that millions of millions of people at home and abroad will mourn the loss of such a man committed to the cause of the poor and the down-trodden humanity.
A visionary, Sir Abed on his return from then Soviet Union knew that the newly emerged country would have to stand on its own feet. The government of a war-ravaged country alone would not be able to take care of the poor. Instead of looking for a highly paying job, which he could easily manage, he thought out of the box and his brainchild BRAC was born. With a few of his comrades-in-arms, Sir Abed built the organisation bit by bit. Then came the time when his Midas touch turned everything gold. One such wonder was the experiment with oral saline formulated by the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B). BRAC not only standardised the right quantity of water, salt and sugar or molasses but also promoted the preparation at home at the grass-roots level. Thus millions of lives were saved.
Sir Abed is no more but all across the 147,570-sq kilometre area of Bangladesh, people and places will feel his touch somehow or other. It is, because he touched so positively the lives of the millions. The quality of his head and heart combined so well that he could bring about a qualitative transformation in the lives of the poor and society as well. We pray for salvation of his soul.
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