From Sponsor Child to Country Office Veteran: My 27 Years with Helen Keller Intl
The world of NGOs has always been a big part of my life. I grew up in Bangladesh as a “sponsor child” of Save the Children USA, and went on to volunteer with them as a youth, where I did everything from help build ponds in the Brahminbaria district so that the villagers could get fresh water, to teaching Bangla to other youth volunteers Australia, Indonesia and Ireland.
While it saddened me to leave once my time in the program was completed, the experience encouraged and prepared me to choose a career in social and development work.
I was fortunate to find a new home with Helen Keller International’s Bangladesh office on April 1, 1988. Over the past 27 years, I have built a wonderful career with Helen Keller as the External Liaison and Admin Officer in the country’s Daka office.
My work with Helen Keller has allowed me to pursue my lifelong passion for journalism and sharing information with local media about the impact NGOs have on local communities. But it was only after joining Helen Keller Intl that I first I read about Helen Keller, the organization’s founder. I read as much as I could find about this great lady and was surprised to learn about her extraordinary life and her work as an advocate for the disabled and disadvantaged. Her ability to change the mindsets of people about the blind and disabled, and to ensure the equal rights of all the people with disabilities all over the world, has truly inspired me, both as a writer and a proud member of a great NGO that is making a difference in my home country.
As a result, I started writing articles about Helen Keller for local publications in both Bangla and English, and became even more passionate about spreading the word in local publications and television about Helen Keller and the organization. I even started working with blind and visually impaired students to translate these articles into Braille so that they could find encouragement and inspiration from her story as I did.
Through my work with Helen Keller Intl, I have been able to grow a large network of journalists, government officials, and NGO contacts that I continue to use in sharing news of the great work Helen Keller is doing and the inspiring woman who helped start it all. I was even able to arranged an exclusive interview on NTV for Helen Keller’s President and CEO Kathy Spahn to commemorate our 30th anniversary in Bangladesh in 2008. Getting this coverage, and continuing to work with Helen Keller Intl, is one of the things I am most proud of.