My world was mostly darkness until the emergence of cricket, a sport that gave me social value and a sense of identity as a part of society.
DHAKA, Bangladesh — When I was six months old, polio attacked me.
They tried all treatments available in my country. However, the doctor left me with no hope to recover.
My family was very supportive and caring. My parents tried their best to get me the treatments I needed. However, my father was not financially stable, and I was unable to continue my treatments.
My world was mostly dark until the emergence of cricket, a sport that gave me social value and a sense of identity as a part of society.
My academic institutions were not so supportive as they were not wheelchair accessible. Students started mocking me, and the bullying became unbearable, so I decided to drop out of school very early in my scholastic career.
As I got older, I wanted to do something for my family and livelihood, so I set up a telecom shop.
The shop became the center of a gathering for my friends and classmates since I could not go anywhere, so they all came and met me in the evening and spent some quality time.
These meetings were my only source of joy at the time until I began playing cricket.
Cricket gave me social value and a sense of identity as a part of society.
I started posting my cricket-playing pictures on Facebook from my telecom shop computer.
One day an interested person from India named Mr. Haroonur Rashid started asking me about disability cricket in Bangladesh.
Haroon was interested in hosting a cricket match for the disabled and asked me to form a team in Bangladesh.
I started seeking the persons with disabilities who were willing to play cricket, with much difficulty.
I finally managed to find some players with the help of CRP and some well-wishers of mine.
We invited Mr. Haroon to bring his team to Bangladesh and play the first physically challenged India vs. Bangladesh T20 Cricket series, where Bangladesh lost the series.
I then went on to join the Taj Mahal Trophy championship tournament at Agra, India, in 2014 by selling my telecom shop, which was my only source of income.
This decision was the most challenging I ever had to make. However, I have no regrets as my team performed well and they won the series.
Winning the Taj Mahal Trophy was the turning point for me.
Our team received a reception from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, which was the most inspiring moment for us all. After the event, so many newspapers covered the story.
After the event, my passion for cricket was undying, so I managed to establish Wheelchair Cricket Welfare Association Bangladesh (WCWAB) in 2016 with the help of my co-founders Polash and Nahian.
We provide training in wheelchair sports and essential life skill training to the players only in our cricket training camps.
Our objectives are to empower differently-abled people through sports and life skill training to bring them into the mainstream of society and transform accessible discrimination-free Bangladesh.
During the pandemic, I came across several posts on social media, where I read about people from our community who were denied financial assistance from elected representatives because they were recipients of a meager monthly disability allowance of Tk 750.
Moved by their distress, I approached individuals/organizations who have previously sponsored us on various occasions for donations and financial aid, which can use to support our community members.
I compiled a list of different categories of physically challenged people in my area and nearby wards.
During Ramadan, with the help of a well-known NGO, we provided cash support to around 300 disabled persons across the country.
I sent assistance to approximately 500 families with disabled members located in Chattogram, Rajshahi, Rangpur, and Barisal with donations from a youth-driven fundraising initiative.
Also, to raise community awareness about social distancing and other sanitary/hygienic precautions, I distributed pamphlets and flyers in my area.
With the help of many reputed private/non-profit organizations and NGOs, we could distribute food-based assistance to more than 5,000 physically challenged/disabled people in my ward and nearby localities.
But what bothered me was repeated incidents of gross mismanagement on the part of the authorities which led to misallocation of assistance specifically dedicated to people in need.
There was one time during distribution when I met a man who had been starving for three consecutive days. When I handed him the packet, the man started to cry.
In a world where people’s hearts are full of prejudices against people like us, through my cause, I continue to strive for equality and inclusion.
I want to see disabled-friendly public spaces and infrastructures everywhere, and above all, a society which is accepting and empathetic.”
I work with our International council of Wheelchairs Cricket (ICWC) as General Secretary.
I am also involved in Junior Chamber International as a JCI Dhaka East member and a member of the world economic forum global shapers Dhaka Hub.
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