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OPINION

Of charities, people in crises


-Representational image -Representational image

Even during the winter season in 2020, the night spectacle of Dhaka featured an age-old scenario. It comprised charity organisations or neighbourhood volunteers moving along the deserted streets, carrying bundles of blankets and warm clothes. Those are meant for homeless families, orphaned street children and vagabonds. Normally, they pass their night in the open space of markets, launch terminals or railway platforms. Many even pass their night under large trees, or in shaky enclosures made of cardboards or sheets of jute. They all have to pass their long wintry nights in biting cold.

In the past, they didn't have to spend their nights in such a state of untold misery for long. On one night, they would be woken up by some people, standing close to them. They would hand them out large packs of woolen clothes and also a blanket. These people, mostly male and female youths, appeared to them like supernatural beings. All of these people were found gone last year. They have yet to turn up this year.

Many analysts ascribe this absence of charity organisations and individuals to the ominous impacts of the ongoing pandemic. It's not worth repeating that Covid-19 spares none. It's not unlikely that many previously active members of these charities may have fallen victim to the pandemic. Or they have been drawn to a fierce battle against the brazenly economic fallout of the scourge. The charity people are defiantly committed to extending their helping hand to those needing help. But, in a twist of fate, if they themselves are caught in a maze of hazards, few are found beside them. A harsh reality defining the present times is the pandemic's evil power of sapping the heroic energy out of the front-line soldiers of charity operations. None can be held responsible for this turn of things. Yet the born followers of volunteerism seem to be not prepared to leave the front without a fight. Hopefully, they will be found beside the winter-stricken and corona-vulnerable people soon. They might need time to piece together their anti-pandemic arms and ammunitions scattered by the sudden attack of the ruthless Covid-19.

Now in its middle, the season of winter is on its way of taking leave. But the compulsive and passionate volunteers may not find the time suitable enough to leave the front. A war might be followed by series of sporadic battles. A government ought not to be blamed for all the failures detected in the times of national crises. Lots of charities stand beside the administration in its attempts to face calamities, including man or nature-prompted adversities. Since the 20th century, it has been seen in countries --- both rich and poor. After the massive cyclone that killed over a million people in the erstwhile East Pakistan, the central government kept their hands off from all kinds of rescue and relief operations. The reason was the people of East Pakistan demanded autonomy for their part of the country. This infuriated the then Pakistan's central government prompting the ruling clique to belittle the frightening nature of the cyclone. In those times of helplessness facing the Bengalees in East Pakistan, it was the foreign and local humanitarian and voluntary groups who came forward to stand beside the storm-battered bewildered people.

These are but a handful of examples. In the times of flood, people have repeatedly seen overseas charities flying in to the marooned areas with relief goods, and emergency supplies of medicine and dry food. In the time of the corona pandemic, the sovereign Bangladesh which has just celebrated its golden jubilee of independence doesn't need relief goods to cope with the pandemic. They need Covid-19 vaccines. They need fraternity and human warmth and, of course, sympathy.

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