Nabiha Chowdhury, International Federation Information Officer in Dhaka
With over 11.4 million Bangladeshis affected by this year’s punishing monsoon season, the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society (BDRCS) has set the standard in providing assistance to disaster victims. Thousands of devoted volunteers worked tirelessly to help the many families acutely affected by this year’s floods. Arfiny Siddique Annie, already a 15-year veteran of the BDRCS at the age of 26, is one such dedicated volunteer who aims to improve the lives of those in need of critical assistance.
“The Red Crescent has allowed me to connect with the people at the grassroots level so deeply that it is not possible to explain it in words,” states Arfiny, who started with the Red Crescent school youth program at the tender age of 11 and continued in the Bangladesh National Cadet Core (BNCC).
“After leaving BNCC, I wanted to help people further, and I knew I could do that by becoming a permanent member at the BDRCS,” she continues. “It was the best place for me, and by joining the organization I was extremely motivated to make a difference in my community.”
In addition to putting relief supplies directly into the hands of people who need it most, to Arfiny what matters most is being able to connect and communicate with those in need. While completing her undergraduate degree in Bengali Literature, she makes time to contribute to society by lending a helping hand whenever necessary.
“Sometimes I have to return home late as I have classes during the day and volunteer during the night,” explains Arfiny who lives in a society where most women are expected to be indoors by dusk. However, her determination ensured she would overcome the problem. “My parents are very accommodating, and they understand my community needs me.”
“She has learnt to be a leader, her leadership skills are outstanding. Everyone looks up to her, which is remarkable,” comments Sifayet Ullah, the disaster management officer for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescents Societies, who worked closely with Arfiny during the flood operation. “She received immense respect from local people, who looked to her during their time of grief.”
Arfiny currently trains incoming volunteers as the Youth Chief of the BDRCS based in Tangail. When her community was inundated with rising water, she worked on the August flood operation and spent many hours distributing relief goods among affected people.
“The whole distribution was done extremely well, and I ensured the elderly were the first to receive relief,” recalls Arfiny of the joint effort between the BDRCS and the International Federation to meet the growing need. “I took great care of the volunteers who had to work long hours in the heat. It seemed like we were a family when we worked together.”
This committed woman is a fine example of a person who is passionate about her work, and who has the right intention to spread love and knowledge to the community. She has learnt to be independent while giving to the community and she is a mentor. Her poise and confidence is what the BDRCS represents. Nevertheless, Arfiny is only one person among tens of thousands of active volunteers who are following in her footsteps, making a difference and providing a helping hand to the most vulnerable in Bangladesh.