Baskets full of vegetables for those in need

Mohammad Kaiser Ali Chowdhury

There’s a basket at the vegetable shop. Whoever wants to, donates vegetables and places these in that basket. And those who cannot afford to buy vegetables, help themselves from the basket for free. This initiative, launched by some youths in Chattogram, has been named ‘Manobik Bazar’ or ‘humanitarian bazar’. Sujan Ghose interviewed Mohammad Kaiser Ali Chowdhury, one of the initiators of this bazar.

Q :

Where did the idea of ‘humanitarian bazaar’ come from?

Two years ago I started a different initiative named ‘humanitarian bread basket’ on College Road of Chattogram city. However, I couldn’t keep it going for various setbacks and was upset about it. We tried to do something for the people in many ways during the corona period. Few days ago I saw on Facebook that a vegetable seller of Chattogram’s Garibullah Housing Society Bazar, Md Ibrahim, had kept a basket in front of his shop. It was written on a paper beside that, any helpless people can take vegetables from that basket. Talking to that vegetable seller the idea of starting ‘humanitarian bazar’ hit me.

Q :

How did you launch it after that?

We have spread this good work initiated by Garibullah Housing Society Bazar’s vegetable seller Ibrahim, to various places. Another youth Abu Hasan and his organisation Musaidah came forward with support. Many including Muhammad Rashed Uddin, Arshad Siddiqui, Sana Ullah Chowdhury, Muhammad Alam and Nasir Faruqi are associated with this activity.

Q :

Which places has this been launched?

After Garibullah Housing Society Bazar, we have launched ‘humanitarian bazar’ at Purba Baklia, Chawk Bazar, Mohra and Karnafuli Bazar in Chattogram city. Meanwhile, it has been started at Nazumia Haat, Madunghat in Hathazari and Rangamati as well.

Q :

Where are the funds coming from?

Initially we started it with our own funding. If someone willingly wishes to help, we don’t decline. Quite a few people are supporting now.

Q :

Who provided help?

A man coming from Boalkhali upazila left vegetables worth Tk 1,500 in the basket. All the vegetable sellers of Karnafuli Bazar have decided to put one kg of vegetable in the basket every day. Two people from Naogaon and Natore districts phoned and asked how to launch this bazar. We even received phone calls from Cumilla. Notable persons also campaigned about this initiative on social media.

Q :

Who are benefitting?

Actually people are suffering miserably with the soaring price of commodities. People in distress are collecting vegetables from the basket without hesitation. Until now almost 400 people have been benefitted from this.

Q :

How is the management being done?

We do the monitoring. And the main task of the management is done by a particular vegetable seller of the bazaar. We maintain regular contact with him. If the basket is emptied, it is filled again quickly.

Q :

What is the future plan regarding this bazaar?

There is no elaborate plan about this initiative actually. At the moment we are working to keep the ‘humanitarian bazar’ running until the holy month of Ramadan. After that, we’ll see what comes next. I dream that one day this bazaar will spread across the whole country.

* This interview appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Nourin Ahmed Monisha