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HAASI – Widening the Happiness to the Disadvantageous

No one has been born as a volunteer; his family and surroundings inspire him to become a volunteer. From an early age, Kamrujjaman Rubel tended to serve helpless people. He used to take part in various socio-cultural events, including sports and social services. While studying at Brindavan Government College, Rubel first volunteered to raise funds for a cancer patient. Correspondingly, he, along with his friends, also helped a child with a disability. Later he thought that if they could form an organization, they could stand by the helpless, poor, disabled, and disadvantaged people of society and work for their welfare.

A few days later, he and a few of his friends had a meeting at their college compound and decided to set up an organization. On January 22, 2014, Habiganj Association for Autism and Social Improvement (HAASI) has started its journey to improve the living standards of children with special needs and disabilities through therapeutic services and skill development programmes.

In the beginning, they have faced several difficulties working for people with children with special needs. Their obvious biggest challenges were low awareness and superstition among community people about the people with special needs. They experienced how children with special needs are victims of misconduct by their family, society, and community. Society cannot naturally accept families having children with special needs or disabilities. Moreover, they have also realized how helpless the parents of children with special needs or disabilities are in this society. No one is there to understand their suffering and to help make their life easier.

Since they were all students with low incomes, it was challenging for them to manage the organization financially at the initial stage. However, they did not give up managing office rent, collecting data on children with special needs and disabilities, and providing financial support to the families. Gradually, the scope of their work increased, and community leaders of Habiganj started recognizing their initiatives and coming forward to assist them. Community leaders arranged free office space for HAASI on the 4th floor of Habiganj Diabetes Hospital. As there is no particular educational institution for autistic children in Habiganj district, HAASI established a school, including a service centre called “HAASI Special Children’s School” in 2018 with the financial support of the Rotary Club of Habiganj. In this school, children with special needs and disabilities receive therapy services for free. Also, parents can take part in different knowledge-sharing sessions.  Apart from working for the disabled communities, they are also working on blood donation activities and food distribution among the unprivileged segments of society. They have arranged some events on Bangabandhu’s and 7th March to recreate the historical sentiment among the children and youth through creative competitions.

Since the beginning, 21 founding members of HAASI have been sincerely striving for children with special needs and disabilities to grow up in a better society and access medical care and rehabilitation. In recognition of their selfless work, HAASI received the ‘Joy Bangla Youth Award-2020’ on November 17, 2020, from Young Bangla, one of the largest youth platforms established by CRI.