Shaheen is from the Alampur village of Maheshpur upazila in Jhenaidah. His father Abdul Quader is an agricultural labourer. Shaheen lost his eyesight at the age of 13. Later, he had struggled a lot to come to this position today. But like an indomitable genius, he had overcome every obstacle in life. Now he is helping others to overcome obstacles.
Shaheen has a brother named Saidur Rahman. He worked for a company in Dhaka and didn't earn much. His mother is a housewife.
His family said Shaheen had a fever when he was a fifth grader. Physicians diagnosed him with typhoid. Although he recovered from the fever later, he started having trouble with his eyesight. Within just three years, he lost his sight completely at the age of 13. He was an eighth grader at that time.
However, his passion for studies did not shrink a bit after he went blind. He had to leave the general school. He was admitted to a school under the Integrated Education Programme for the Visually Impaired (Blind Children) of the Ministry of Social Welfare.
He passed SSC in 2013 from Tolarampur Secondary High School. Later, he returned to his area and got admitted to Shamsul Huda Khan College. Some of the teachers did not want to admit him at the time. Later he got admitted to the college after promising to make all the arrangements for his studies on his own. Shahin Alam used to walk to the college about five kilometers from his home. He passed higher secondary from this college in 2015.
ABM Shah Alam, principal of Shamsul Huda Khan said Shahin has struggled a lot to continue his studies.
He started dreaming of studying in university, but he could not get admitted into any admission coaching centre for monetary reasons. However, he continued his preparations for the admission test with the help of his friends who went to coaching centres. He got a place in the merit list in the admission test. He got enrolled in the political science department of Dhaka University.
Then he started studying using braille. Shaheen didn’t have a computer. However, he used the computers at the visually impaired resource centre of the university for his studies. Besides, he also taught various subjects to others.
Shaheen Alam said he learned operating computers in between his studies. He already has served as a trainer in a project of Bangladesh Computer Council. He trains people who are visually impaired like him.
He returned home in March after the outbreak of coronavirus in the country. He spent three months there almost idle. It was then that he felt an urge to do something for the visually impaired.
Later in July, he announced free computer training for the visually impaired on social media. Besides, he also informed some visually impaired people about the training over the phone. From that very month, he started giving computer training from home.
He started taking classes for an hour and a half on Friday, Sunday and Wednesday evenings every week. The first batch of the three-month course had 60 students. 53 people took part in the second batch in June.
Shaheen is now preparing to start the third batch. Shaheen is training people through Zoom. Apart from Bangladesh, 40 students from India also took part in his training.
Shaheen’s training includes fundamentals of computer, screen reader, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Powerpoint, internet browsing and so on. He uses software such as Job Access with Speech (JWS) and Non-visual Desktop Access (NVDA) for training. The trainees also use the same software.
Visually impaired Sharif is from Madaripur and lives in the capital’s Khilkhet area. He came to know about the training programme from Facebook and got enrolled in the second batch. He has progressed a lot in computer operating.
Taslima Khatun, a BA final year student of Cox’s Bazar Govt College said she is getting the training free of cost. It will help shape her life. Maidul Islam, Master’s third year student of Chattogram University, said he was spending idle time at home due to coronavirus. Such training in this time of pandemic is like a boon for the visually impaired.
Prakash Das of Galimadah village in Uttar Dinajpur, India, said he is a twelfth grader. After finding out about the training through Facebook, he registered online. He is learning about computers regularly from Shaheen Alam.
Shaheen Alam said he managed the first batch on his own initiative. Then an organisation called Access Bangladesh Foundation is assisting him with the system of using Zoom and certificates of trainees in the training of the second batch. But he does not know what will happen during the training of the third batch. Due to lack of funds, the internet bill is becoming a huge burden for him.
Md Mojibur Rahman, a senior official of the Dhaka University library and in charge of the Resource Centre for the visually impaired (visually impaired), told Prothom Alo, "Shaheen has learned various computer related works using the computers with special software at the visually impaired resource centre ."
Chairman of the Department of Political Science, Ferdous Hossain said that Shaheen was not given any financial support separately. However, the department has taken initiative to provide financial assistance to the students who have problems due to various reasons including disability.
*This report appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu