A visionary has passed away

Maswood Alam Khan When the death of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed was announced on Friday night, a deep note was struck in our lives which must have resounded in the minds of those who care about the future of our country, who cry for the poor and the hapless and who are eager to see smiles on sad faces. The death announcement didn’t still the clatters of our daily activities but it has made us pause for a while with a deep sigh of grief. The world would have been benefitted a bit more if he had lived a little longer. Even though we all know that one day all must pass this way. Yet in our hearts it seems the great men and women pass away too soon.

We have the misfortune of losing a star that sparkled on our sky. One reason we feel sad when such a death happens to a great man is because he feels like our friend with whom we formed a bond. He made lives of the poor richer and fuller and we never wanted that to end. His death means ‘one less warrior of what’s good to stand against the wrong and injustice in this world’.

Finding the right words to express our sadness and to offer our condolence to the bereaved is difficult. There is nothing we can say that will make the sorrow disappear.

When we say we are born in the same soil where some great people like Sir Fazle Hasan Abed were also born we beam with self-esteem. We take pride in those jewels who introduce our home as a land which nourished them. And, when such a great man of our soil dies the light he leaves behind dazzles for eons.

Sir Abed has passed away, we cannot bring him back and there’s nothing we can do about it. The only thing we can do is honour his life and career and inspire people to follow in his footsteps.

He has taught us how to care about poverty alleviation, how to uplift education, and how to attain our cherished goals. His death teaches us what is important in life: love, not material possessions. His examples will navigate us to strengthen the filaments of our society.

He was respected as a great man known beyond the border of our country and as the founder of the biggest NGO (non-governmental organisation) in the world. The simple dignity of his life, his many virtues, his integrity, his sense of duty, his charming nature, his footprints as a social worker, his courage and actions in our liberation war, his ability to infuse entrepreneurial skills into managers and workers—all these were aspects of his character which won the glint of admiration. He is the first person in Bangladesh who showed that a nongovernment organisation run on scientific management can implement programmes through a multitude of institutions inside the country and abroad. His career is a model and a guide to us today, and also for future generations at home and abroad.

At his death, we see an outpouring of sympathies, a passionate outburst of grieves and a flood of condolences from eminent personalities and dignitaries. Former US president Bill Clinton said Sir Fazle Abed’s life was a great gift to humanity.

Teeming millions in Bangladesh may not be as familiar with Sir Fazle Hasan Abed as they are with celebrities seen on the media. But BRAC, his creation, is a household name to them.

Almost every human on this planet is familiar with penicillin and other antibiotics, the drugs that cure the majority of infectious diseases. But how many people–except some scientists and scholars–do know about Alexander Fleming who discovered the miracle drug? Almost none. Who among 17 million people in Bangladesh never heard about BRAC or bKash? Not a single person. And, how many of us did ever see on television the man who was behind BRAC and all its derivatives. A few and far between.

One of the least-seen men on television screens and newspapers, Sir Abed has left this temporal life silently after an 83-year of existence and a 50-year of dedications. Purpose of his life was to bring smiles on wretched faces.

BRAC, the organisation that Sir Fazle Hasan founded in 1972, provides services to about 10 million underprivileged households in Bangladesh. BRAC’s success in Bangladesh helped it reach out across the globe. It has been actively engaged in Pakistan, Philippines, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Haiti, and to other nooks and corners of the world. It is now equipped with an annual budget of one billion US dollar and a staff strength of more than one hundred thousand to serve the underprivileged. It has been possible for Sir Abed’s extraordinary passion for public service and his long vision to see a happier world.

Sometimes, people are cast upon a desolate situation, void of all hopes, with the death of a leader. It is not the truth in case of BRAC with Sir Abed’s departure. BRAC is eternally etched in stone and it will go ahead as he planned and hoped. His Himalayan contribution to humanity will be remembered for hundreds of years.



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