The programme—conducted by Mahbuba Sultana, coordinator of Prothom Alo Trust—runs simultaneously on Prothom Alo’s Facebook page and YouTube channel along with the Facebook page of Prothom Alo Trust.
Thanking Prothom Alo first, Suraiya Huda, a Brac bank-Prothom Alo Trust scholarship holder, started telling her story.
“People usually are either physically or financially or socially vulnerable. But I am growing up with three barriers altogether. When I was five years old, I suddenly contracted polio and my right leg became paralyzed. Since my family was not well off enough , I did not get proper treatment then. I couldn't go to school due to my illness,” she lamented.
Later she was admitted to Class 2 in a primary school far from her home. As she was physically challenged, she used to go to the school with the help of her classmates. The teachers loved her as she was a brilliant student and got good grades, braving so many difficulties.
When Suraiya was in Class 7 at Akij Collegiate School, her father had a heart attack and died, leaving the family in utter distress. Then the school’s principal helped her to continue her studies.
The indomitable girl got GPA 5.00 in her Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination and was selected for the ‘Adamya Medhabi’ scholarship of Prothom Alo Trust at the higher secondary level.
Talking about the scholarship, she said, “When I got the ‘Adamya’ scholarship, I felt like I got my father back. Just like a father ensures his child's education, this showed me the way ahead . Since then I have studied with Trust scholarships. Along with my studies, I could help my family with the scholarship money.”
Suraiya Huda attained GPA 5:00 in her Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) examination too. Then Prothom Alo Trust extended their funding for her to study for her Bachelor's degree.
After that, she took the entry exams for Rajshahi University (RU) and Islamic University (IU) in Kushtia and qualified for both. She qualified for studying at RU under the quota for the physically challenged, while she got a place on the merit list of IU. She opted for IU.
While studying in the second year at university, she took the primary teacher recruitment test along with her friends. Although she wasn't too interest to work then, she took part in the recruitment test to gain experience. But she was called for viva-voce after passing in the preliminary.
After getting job, Suraiya needed to decide whether she would work or continue her studies. Later she decided that she would take up this challenge and would continue studies and work too.
Since she had to take school classes six days a week in school, she couldn't attend the university classes regularly. So, she went to her classmates in Kushtia to collect class notes every Thursday. Then she would go back to Jashore on Friday evening after collecting the notes.
Sometimes she had to travel from Jashore to Kushtia standing in the local bus for hours with her crutches. During the class exams, she used to go from Jashore to Kushtia in the morning and then return to Jashore in the evening. That is how she completed her BBA and MBA degrees.
When asked about her dreams, Suraiya laughed and said, “When I went to Dhaka for the ‘Adamya Medhabi’ [scholarship] reception, I said I wanted to be a banker. I used to think, since I have a physical disability, the bank job would be the best fit for me. But now I don't think so. After working as a teacher, I feel that teaching is the best thing for me,”
“Firstly, I thought that my students might not accept me, since I walk with crutches. But my students and colleagues have given me so much love that I don't want to leave them now. I teach at the primary level. Children come to me and sit on my lap. Among them, some call even me ma. I tell them the story of my struggle,” she added.
She further said “I try to tell them never to stop in life. No matter what comes ahead, we have to move forward. Maybe someone like me is among them. I have taken responsibility for them and their development. This is my dream.”
Talking about her mother, she said “My goal is to look after my mother. I take care of her after completing my household chores. When my mother contracted Covid-19, I managed everything she needed, including taking her to a doctor in Jashore. I feel so good when I can do something for my mother. Basically, the biggest goal of my life is to stay by my mother as long as I live.”
Suraiya told the other ‘Adamya Medhabi’, indomitable talents like herself, “Never lose heart. Don't think that anything is imposible. Everything is possible in life. Nothing can be an obstacle if you have strength of mind. Prothom Alo Trust is always there to help.”
*The original report appeared in the online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by NH Sajjad