When I came to the United States in the early ‘80s, I used to live in an apartment with some of my friends in New York City. It was always a fun place to be and there was always something going on. Our friends that just came to the country from Bangladesh would come to stay with us while looking for jobs and apartments of their own. Far away from our home, families and childhood traditions, we started traditions and celebrations of our own.
Despite all the fun, I always used to say that we had to give back in someway to our home much in the same way as my great-grandfather, Munshi Atar Ali did. We collected all our spare change in a mayonnaise jar I got from a now closed deli I worked at during the time. Everyday, our roommates and guests would drop their spare change into the mayonnaise jar. With that mayonnaise jar, we were able to fund the teachers’ salaries at the Earpur High School, buy rickshaws for the vocational program and start a small fund for women when they got married.
A lot has changed since our fun times in that apartment. Many of our friends have become very successful in their respective fields, moved away, gotten married and started families of their own. But we have never forgotten that mayonnaise jar or our home. It sits in the living room of my current home today. When I think back to those times, I never expected to accomplish as much as we have throughout the years. Our biggest dream has come true: building and running a health facility for poor in rural Bangladesh.
But I have been able to accomplish an even bigger goal: passing the lessons of giving to my children. My wife and I have striven to deliver the lessons of charity and goodwill to our son and daughter. Both of our children have taken these lessons to heart and continue to as they grow to be compassionate adults.
Thank you to everyone that I met along the way and invested in the mission and dreams of MAAWS. It is with your support that MAAWS is what it is today and is able to provide the poor with opportunities to uplift themselves out of poverty.
I urge all of you, especially my fellow expatriate Bangladeshis living abroad to give back to our home. Tell your children stories of their motherland and get them involved in giving back. We must continue to serve in order to bring light to Bangladesh’s bright future.
Golam Mawla Manik
Founder of MAAWS
(Registered NGO since 2001)