Category Archives: Disaster Management

Acknowledging our heartfelt gratitude to a generous benefactor

Saiful Latif Sultan is one of the most authoritative names as a Physics teacher in English Medium circles. What people don’t also know is that he is a generous and publicity-shy philanthropist. He has been one of our most prolific patrons, and besides his charitable contributions as a donor he also offers counsel as an Honorary Member to our organization.

SHEPRO would like to acknowledge its debt to Mr. Saiful Latif Sultan for his love, support and guidance to our endeavors. We extend our most heartfelt gratitude and thank him.

Tanzim Taher

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Mr. Saiful Latif Sultan has been a generous patron to numerous projects of ours.


“Can’t buy you medicine anymore….”

Written by and posted on behalf of Abu Sufian Raihan

সকাল ৬:৩০ স্থানঃ সাভারের এক বস্তি

“মা শারমিন ওড, গার্মেন্টসে যাবি না?” বলল শারমিনের মা। মার ডাক শুনে তাড়াতাড়ি ঘুম থেকে উঠে বসল শারমিন। “হুম যামু মা। কয়ডা বাজে?” “সাড়ে ছয়ডার মত। যা তাড়াতাড়ি গোসল কইরা ল। পরে আবার সিরিয়াল পইরা যাইব” “শাওন কই?” “এহনও বাড়িত আহে নাই”শুনে দীর্ঘ নিঃশ্বাস ফেলে শারমিন। ভাইটাকে টাকার অভাবে পড়াতে পারল না শারমিন।নষ্ট হয়ে যাচ্ছে তার ছোট ভাইটা। “বাবা আর তোমার ওষুধ আছে?” “আজকে দুপুর পর্যন্ত হইব” “আচ্ছা আজকে আসার সময় নিয়া আসুম” বলল শারমিন। এদিকে আবার কালকে গার্মেন্টসে ফাটল দেখা দিসে।তাড়াতাড়ি ছুটি দিয়ে আজকে সকালে যেতে বলছে।বলে দিছে আজকে না গেলে বেতন দিব না। সবাই গরীবের পেটে লাথি মারতে চায়।এসব ভাবতে ভাবতে গোসল করতে গেল শারমিন।

সকাল ৯:০০ স্থানঃ রানা প্লাজা

শারমিন কাজ করছে সাত তলায়। পাশে মৌসুমী বক বক করে যাচ্ছে। আর তা শুনে হাসছে শারমিন। হঠাত মনে হল ভূমিক্মপ হচ্ছে।পায়ের নিচের ফ্লোর কেপে উঠছে। মাথার উপর ছাদ ভেঙ্গে পড়ল শারমিন সহ সাততলায় কাজ করা আর সবার উপর।

সকাল ১১ টা স্থানঃ রানা প্লাজার ধ্বংসস্তুপ

চারপাশ অন্ধকার। নিশ্চুপ। এক ভূতুরে পরিবেশ। শারমিন চোখ খুলল। তার মাথায় তীব্র ব্যাথা। একবার মা বলে চিৎকার করে উঠল শারমিন। কোন সাড়াশব্দ নেই । সে তার বাম হাত নাড়াতে পারছিলনা। পায়ের উপর একটা বীম পড়ে গেছে। সারা শরীর অসার হয়ে যাচ্ছে। তার বাম পাশে পড়ে আছে তাদের সুপার ভাইজারের লাশ। তার হাতে একটা কাগজ আর কলম ছিল সে অনেক কষ্ট করে সুপার ভাইজারের হাত থেকে ছুটিয়ে নিল। তারপর কিছু লিখল কাগজটাতে। আর শক্ত করে ডান হাতে কাগজটা ধরে রাখল এবং চিরদিনের জন্য হুমিয়ে গেল|

দুপুর ৩টা স্থানঃ রানা প্লাজার ধ্বংসস্তুপ

উদ্ধার কাজ চলছে। ধ্বংস স্তূপের বাহিরে অনেক মানুষ। হঠাত বের  হয়ে আসল একটা লাশ। একজন মেয়ের লাশ। হাতের মধ্যে সাদা কাগজে ২ লাইন লেখা। “আম্মা-আব্বা আমারে মাফ কইরা দিউ তোমাগোরে আর ঔষুধ কিনে দিতে পারবনা। ভাই তুই আম্মা আব্বার দিকে খেয়াল রাখিছ” হতভাগা মা চিঠি আর মেয়ের ছবি নিয়ে একটু কাঁদছে আর বেহুঁশ পড়ছে।এরকম দৃশ্য দেখার পরে আর কোন মানুষ হয়ত চোখের পানি টুকু আটকিয়ে রাখতে পারবেনা।

Image borrowed for effect (Source: UNBconnect. Reported on: December 31st, 2013 08:54:18 pm)

Note: The story above has been based on true events. A nine story building did collapse on 24th April 2014 claiming thousands of lives. A corpse was found in the rubble clutching a 2-line note saying, “Amma and Abba (Dear Mom and Dad), please forgive me because I won’t be able to buy your medicine anymore. Dear brother, please look after Amma-Abba.”

The identities of the corpse and her family remain unknown. The writer has taken some liberty in writing around the facts in an attempt to empathize with the victim during the last hours of her life.

Collected from: Help the people of Savar Tragedy




Savar tragedy – through my eyes

Posted on behalf of Noor Afsa Zaman Ali

My colleague Dr. Sujata and I responded to an invitation to volunteer at the Savar site with a team of seven volunteers on the 25th of April, a day after the collapse of Rana Plaza. Getting to the site itself was an extremely exhausting experience, and we faced blockades, harassment and difficulty every step of the way. Due to road blocks, we had to walk from Hemayetpur to ground zero.

Once there, the reality we faced was far worse than what we expected. Furthermore, we found ourselves wholly unprepared for the situation, being exposed to a disaster of this magnitude for the first time.

We saw hundreds of people flocking at the site in an attempt to help but effectively adding to the confusion instead. For the first few minutes, you could say we were part of the mess too as we stood among the crowd figuring where to start. We saw hundreds of people pouncing on the rubble and emerging as a clumsy line with broken shards of glass and brick to clear the debris. Next to me, I heard a man shouting desperately into his cell phone to his brother who had been trapped inside the building. We went about asking the volunteers if they needed any doctors for on-site medical attention, but they seemed just as lost as we were…

Just as my colleague Dr. Sujata and I started to climb down the roof of the building, someone roared out from behind for a doctor. They just had found access to another victim it seemed. We rushed back but as soon as they saw us, “Madam, we need MALE doctors,” they said.

At first I didn’t quite get him…but it registered within seconds. They were concerned about putting our lives at risk, especially since we were “women”. Whatever remained of the structure was still flimsy and the risk of an aftershock due to rescue activity could have put our lives in danger. Nevertheless we pleaded our way in, but under the supervision of a firefighter of course.

Once inside, we were in for another surprise – access to the victim was extremely dangerous. Each step we took seemed like a death trap. Parts of the building collapsing around us as we inched forwards. The rescuers had created a hole which only allowed one person to fit through and with much difficulty too – if I may add. Needless to say, it was a trap within a trap…

We asked the rescuers about who to save and what to do. They showed us a woman who was trapped around her gluteal region and urgently needed an amputation to be freed. Sadly, we only came prepared with some first aid supplies and needed orthopedic provisions. Naturally, we were angry with the rescue management. Someone in charge should have provided us with instruments necessary to perform amputations on-site. I doubt there was someone in charge there at all. I only remember a sea of nervous volunteers with no sense of direction and organization. We had to move on.

Back on the roof of the building we were being called from each and every direction. Two doctors and hundreds of trapped victims are a gross mismatch. In retrospect, I can see now why there were only two of us – others were unwilling to risk climbing on top of a heap of flimsy rubble. We were too caught up in the moment to care for our own safety I guess! We blindly followed our accompanying firefighter – placing our feet wherever directed in the trickiest crevices and nooks. The firefighter kept briefing us about the trapped people they had discovered up to date.

At a cleft there was no more ground for us to stay on top of, and whatever there was started to crumble away. At one point I lost my footing and thankfully someone pulled me from behind just in time. I could see a drop height of about 20 feet funneling into a pitch.

I looked over my right shoulder and saw the face of a trapped body inches away from me – hanging by neck, his chest pressed against the back wall with a large piece of rock shard. I reflexively gasped, stepped back and turned my head to find five other bodies, all intricately trapped in the rubble in various positions… An overturned woman half of whose body had been smashed, a man dangling by his arm… Just in that tiny space, I must have seen 5 different stories of the building flattened into one. There were six bodies trapped and dead and no way to get access to them. There was the obvious risk of rubble collapsing on any rescuer’s head if he attempted to pull a body out. The whole situation was just impossible!

We explored our options at a few other locations. Most of the bodies were dead and little could be done for the ones that were still alive due to their dire circumstances and lack of proper equipment on our hands. In my eagerness to check the victims I lost my footing again and slipped – this time across a whole story and fell on my left hip. Call me clumsy but I was simply engorged with the futility of the disaster. Back to work as soon as I was up.

We finally decided that it made more sense to administer first aid to rescue workers who were constantly showing up with bruises and lacerations which we could manage. Administering some basic first aid for the workers, we decided to head out to the Emergency Room of the nearest hospital (Enam Medical) where our services would be most useful. The hospital OTs were performing amputations round the clock and all their orthopedic resources were being used. No wonder why people couldn’t provide us with amputation instruments on-site we realized – the hospitals simply could not hand them out because they needed them. Meanwhile, as the clock ticked, the limbs of the victims who still didn’t reach the hospital would necrose. The gravity of the situation at both places made me woozy with despair!

A truly unnerving experience for me. The people who died only died for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. They did not deserve this fate. They deserved to live as much as we do. After arriving home I realized that I did not even once care to thank my firefighter escort who had guarded me and rescued me from my own accidents twice. I didn’t even remember his face anymore. It just made me feel more sorry.

Noor Afsa Zaman Ali
Noor just recently completed her internship training from Kumudini Medical College and Hospital and plans to go to USA to continue medical education and practice. She is a member of several youth and voluntary platforms and a long-time patron of SHEPRO. Noor was one of the volunteer doctors with SHEPRO at Savar during the Rana Plaza disaster.

SHEPRO battles Brahmanbaria Tornado Disaster alongside Journeys For Climate Justice

On March 22, a tornado struck 20 villages of the Brahmanbaria district of Bangaldesh along a monstrous distance of 8 kilometres killing over 35 people and leaving several hundred injured. Homesteads of village families were decimated leaving thousands homeless and thousands of trees and utility poles were stripped and uprooted.

Like many other voluntary platforms, Journeys For Climate Justice took initiative in the event of this disaster. Joined forces by SHEPRO in Bangladesh, the Brahmanbaria Tornnado Aid Project (BTAP) was opened to come to the aid of ailing victims of the tornado in Brahmanbaria.

The responses to this effort were astounding. Contributions in cash and in kind were received from many patrons. Volunteers immediately started visiting the tornado-affected sites distributing aid and providing medical attention to the victims. Besides relief and first aid, BTAP helped rehabilitate the affected families by building sanitary latrines and tubewells for them too.

Besides individual donations, the Brahmanbaria Tornado Aid Project was sponsored by Journeys For Climate Justice, the Canadian Trillinnium School Dhaka, and SHEPRO.

The project objectives had been successfully met and the project was closed after an official evaluation in November 2013.