85% of our total operating expenses fund programs for children. So the majority of your dollars go toward exactly what you intended - supporting children in poverty.
Messages from Visitors
My name is Lira Chowdhury;l I grew up in Dallas, Texas and I feel privileged to have a family who could provide for me. I am proud to admit that I have an excellent family and very good friends. Reflecting on my life, I was going to a great school but was not sure what I wanted to do with my life or what path was the right one for me. What was my purpose? My family was a bit worried about my confusion and lack of direction. My parents are from Bangladesh and almost every year we would travel to their home country. It was on one of those trips that I witnessed the reality of harsh poverty.
I realized my life was very different from most Bangladeshis and I wanted to help but did not know what to do or how to go about affecting change. In high school, I reached a turning point after I met Dr. Ehsan Hoque at an event in Texas where he was talking about DCI and his work in Bangladesh. At this initial meeting, I was immediately drawn to him and I knew I wanted to be a contributing member of DCI. Dr. Hoque, himself, gave me his full attention, listened to what I said, supported me and helped me take on small projects. I started off with small fundraisers, recruiting sponsors for the Sun-Child Program and organizing different events. After I graduated from high school and started college, I began my own chapter of DCI at the University of Texas at Austin. Shortly after Cyclone Sidr struck in 2007, Dr. Hoque and Dr. DeBroff invited me to a mission trip to Bangladesh. The cyclone was a terrible disaster that devastated much of Southeast Asia and Bangladesh. We went to rural sites that were affected, Patuakhali to be exact, where the cyclone was at its worst. We delivered chlorine tabs for water sanitation and distributed blankets and first-aid supplies. I was overcome by how grateful the villagers were for what little we could give! It was incredibly moving to witness firsthand the smiles on the children’s faces. After Patuakhali, we visited the rural town of Feni, another project area of DCI, located some distance away from the cyclone zone. This tiny village put on a welcome show for us “visitors.” The children were dressed with warm smiles, pressed clothes and clean shoes. It was hard to tell they lived in mud huts with tin rooves and no electricity or running water. It occurred to me that this was a product of what WE provided through DCI; it was extremely motivating and humbling. Dr, Hoque wanted me to see and feel what we were working for. That said, he then made arrangements for me to visit and see child laborers. I witnessed an 8-year-old boy operating a sewing machine in Zinzira, the garment district of Dhaka. Even with laws in place now – child labor is real! At the end of the trip, I was able to join the opening ceremony for DCI’s Childhood Blindness Prevention Program at BIRDEM Hospital. I visited a DCI clinic for the extreme poor in Dhaka and also a DCI-sponsored orphanage. I was able to even watch Dr. DeBroff perform a free cataract surgery.
This trip was a life-changing event for me and made me realize I wanted to do something where I can help people. Dr. Hoque motivated me to be a physician! I realized that, if I become a physician, it will put me in a position to help people not only in the United States, but also in countries like Bangladesh. After I returned to the USA, I gave my full attention to medical school. Dr. Hoque stayed with me, supported me through advice, helped with resume writing, gave great recommendations and connected me to DCI’s network.
I successfully entered medical school. In fact, today I am nearing the end of my residency training as a Surgeon in Urology at Detroit Medical Center, MI and soon will begin working at the Health Center of the University of California, Irvine. Working for DCI has been incredible and has provided communication, organization, leadership and technology skills that I use today. Most importantly, I learned how “commitment” is critical to success. My volunteer experience seriously impacted my career and helped mold the person I am today. I am very proud to say that I received recognition and an award by volunteering with DCI. My volunteer work definitely helped build my resume and cultivated the person I am today. Looking back, I feel fortunate that I met Dr. Hoque and that I had the opportunity to immerse myself with DCI in my childhood; this was a game changer. It has been a truly incredible honor to have Dr. Hoque’s guidance and encouragement in all facets of my life’s decisions. DCI has seriously contributed to my successes today, and I hope to continue my efforts to help DCI for my lifetime in the same way DCI has helped me grow. My advice to all young people, immerse yourself in DCI at any age, at any level and in any capacity. It changed my life for the better; I am proud to be a volunteer, student and surgeon committed to changing the lives of children globally by turning privilege into purpose. — Dr. Lira Chowdhury, Urology Surgeon, Detroit Medical Center (DCI Volunteer since 2005)
Message from Salma Siddique, DCI Youth Volunteer
Distressed Children and Infants International (DCI) is a phenomenal organization that benefits not only children, but their families, and the communities in which they live in. As a pediatrician in New York, we see a huge spectrum of illness and disease, as well as social issues that impact children as they grow and develop. In the United States, we have systems in place to aid families and give children the care and help that they need, but places that are less developed or developing, like Bangladesh, need some extra help to construct and maintain systems of care and sustainable sources of aid for children and their families. DCI successfully attempts to tackle not only medical costs of care for children, but tries to address the variety of social obstacles that may stand in the way for a brighter future. Through their various public works projects and community building projects, families have more incentive to allow their children to stay in school for longer periods of time, giving them opportunities they would not have if it were not for organizations like DCI. What truly separates DCI from other organizations is the idea and driving force behind the organization – Dr. Ehsan Hoque. His vision is truly extraordinary, stemming from humble desires to offer better medical care and eye care, and now spanning multiple areas of aid, now sustained by loyal and generous sponsors from the United States and abroad. Another aspect of DCI that I love, is the opportunity the organization gives to its sponsors to visit Bangladesh and meet their sponsored children and see first hand the different types of projects DCI is working on. This truly allows sponsors to feel that they are connected to the work they are helping to fund and creates relationships that may not have began otherwise. I was able to experience this connection when I visited the DCI office in Mohammadpur in 2010. I met the girl I had sponsored for years before, and it was so nice to be able to put a face behind the letters and drawings I would receive in the mail updating me about how she was doing. The DCI team was so hospitable and welcoming and through them, I was able to volunteer some time in the health clinic in Mohammadpur, which was a great opportunity for me as a medical student at the time. I saw pathology I would probably never see in the United States and I was able to experience firsthand the differences and similarities between global medicine and what we see on a daily basis in the US. My personal experience with DCI has spanned almost 10 years now, and I can truly say that it is an honor to be able to be a part of this organization, in any small way. DCI has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception and I only hope that it continues to grow and prosper – with all of our help and support. I wish nothing but the best for its future, and hope to be a lifelong supporter. Salma Siddique, MD Brooklyn, NY Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York
Ridwan Ahmed Volunteers at DCI’s Sun Child Home
I had the pleasure of volunteering at RSC/DCI at the girls’ orphanage in Mohammadpur, Dhaka, Bangladesh. I taught English by combining it with Bangla. Through visual learning, the girls were able to accomplish good pronunciation and recognition of the English alphabet and numbers. Over a stretch of three days (June 5th, 7th, and 14th, 2012), I spent a combined time of 3.5 hours teaching at the orphanage. I would like to thank Dr. Ehsan Hoque, Mr. Hai Zaidul, Ms. Salma Qadir, and all the others who made this wonderful experience possible. I would also like to thank the cordial girls at the orphanage, whose cooperation was necessary for this occasion to occur. This volunteering opportunity changed my view of the world and made me very fortunate for basic necessities that I previously took for granted. However, I feel a need to raise a substantial issue regarding the importance of family, based on my personal experience volunteering at Boy’s Haven for America Inc., a temporary foster program serving kids all over the U.S. The first student I tutored came to Boy’s Haven because of behavior problems. His parents frequently visited him and he was able to see them in their house. During his time there, his personality greatly improved and after some time, he was able to move back with his family. I feel that DCI’s orphanage should strive to have the same mission: after a girl starts to live at the DCI orphanage, she should be allowed to visit family members at their houses or be visited by them at the orphanage. Once family members are cleared to be able to take care of girl, the girl should move back with them. If not, the girls might grow up thinking that their family never got a second chance to raise them, and that their family does not care about them anymore. DCI has changed the lives of many underprivileged children through their wonderful programs and I am sure that they will continue to do so in the future. Once again, I thank everyone for their cooperation and supervision of my volunteering experience in Bangladesh. Ridwan Ahmed, West Brook High School (9th Grade) Beaumont, TX
My Experience Volunteering with DCI in Bangladesh by Samia Alam
This summer I was in Bangladesh, working at a clinic for underprivileged people, visiting slums to check health conditions of children and pregnant women, and working at an orphanage, which overall has been an eye-opening experience for me. The DCI volunteer program has given me the opportunity to learn about the healthcare system of a third world country like Bangladesh, and have a life changing experience there. I would wake up at 7:00am and get ready to go to the clinic. Although the clinic is half an hour away from my house, it usually took me an hour or more to get there because of traffic. When I finally get to work, patients start coming to see the doctor. When the doctor asks the patient a question, I asked some follow up questions to get more information about the patient. I helped with taking history of the patients including checking their blood sugar level, blood pressure, and recording weight of children and pregnant mothers. Since all the patients are from slums near the clinic, they are usually uneducated and quite ignorant about their health. We had to talk to them in simple words so that they would understand what we were trying to explain. Because of their lack of knowledge, they seemed very helpless, and expressed their gratitude when they got better. I gained a sense of fulfillment after helping them. It was very interesting to work at the clinic as I observed a pattern in the type of health issues people suffered from in Bangladesh. The majority of the young patients were malnourished, suffered from flus, various infections, diarrhea, and skin diseases since they live in an unhygienic environment, and do not get enough nutritious food. A lot of older patients were suffering from body aches, arthritis, vitamin deficiencies and problems related to lungs due to doing physical labor and inhaling dust at work and the slums they live in. I have also observed that a lot more female patients were suffering from malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies than males. Working with different doctors and seeing patients has helped me learn about different treatments and diagnosis, and also understand the life styles of extremely poor people in a third world country. After watching all the patients, we would visit the slum to see if there were any children or pregnant woman in the houses. We examined the health condition of the children and pregnant women in each house, and talked to them to increase health awareness in the area. As they realized that we were trying to help them, they were very generous and friendly with us. Even though they are very poor and do not have enough food for themselves, they still invited us to their small one-room houses and offered food. However, we always avoided eating their food for safety. Still, it’s very nice to see how welcoming they were. Since people at the slum are not used to seeing people in western clothes, I wore very simple and traditional Bengali clothes called “saloar kamiz” at work in order for me to feel comfortable as well as make them feel comfortable to talk to me about their problems. I even tried to talk in their slang while talking to them about health awareness issues. Last but not least, I have also worked at an orphanage run by DCI. When I met with the kids during my first orientation, I wanted to know about their lives, and also wanted to help them. I went to the orphanage twice a week to spend time with them. I taught them English, helped them with their homework, and then played different games with them just for them to have some fun. I was amazed to see how curious they were to learn new things and meet new people. The supervisor of the orphanage told me how they lost their parents and homes, and how some of them were physically abused by their relatives. Despite experiencing such tragedy at their young age, they have learned to stay strong and smile again. Their lives have made me realize how fortunate I am to have a family and my various opportunities in life. I had so many different experiences during this summer through the DCI volunteer program. While I have enjoyed working and living in Bangladesh, I have also gained a lot of valuable experiences which will help me in the future. That’s why once again I would like to thank Distressed Children and Infants International for my unforgettable summer experience in Bangladesh. Samia Alam Washington and Lee University, Lexington VA
Sponsoring children through DCI and visiting the project areas in Bangladesh is an experience which is unique and enough to change a person forever. I have been sponsoring 25 children for the last three years. I really like the program. It is simple and transparent, and I have direct contact with my sponsored child. It is amazing! –Fahmida Sharmin Dhaka, Bangladesh
Last winter I went to Bangladesh to see my mom and to visit my sponsored child, Laboni Akter Tanjila. I have been sponsoring Laboni for the last couple of years and until now I knew her only from pictures. I was very excited to finally to be able to meet my sponsored child. My brother and I went to her village in Barisal on a big three-story passenger ship. We started from Dhaka around 9 pm and reached our destination the next day at around 11 am. DCI field officers were at the terminal to receive us. Immediately, I went to my sponsored child’s school and met with her classmates. Then I met her parents, who were very excited to see us. The father of my sponsored child climbed a coconut tree and served green coconut water to all of us. Laboni’s father, Monir Hossain is a fisherman and her mom (Farida Begum) stays home with Laboni’s younger brother. Her father’s job as a fisherman is dependent on luck, so life is not easy. After being brought into the sponsorship program DCI is now trying to help Laboni’s mother, so she can earn some money and help the family. I saw with my own eyes how the small amount I am giving is changing lives — it is truly a life-changing experience. I urge you to visit DCI’s projects to see the situation and get involved in any way you can. Thank you. -Anis U. Zaman
Dr. Mutahar Ahmed
It’s difficult and saddening to see true poverty and even more upsetting to see that those who suffer most are children. However, it’s also uplifting to know that organizations like Distressed Children & Infants International (DCI) exist to aid those living in poverty. I visited DCI’s Sun Child area in Habigonj, Bangladesh and met all the children in the school where DCI is not only educating the children but also touching the hearts and souls of entire families. I had a great experience with DCI and I witnessed the feeling and attachment to work for the underprivileged children that pervades everything DCI does. There is a strong sense of kinship between DCI’s staff and donors and those children and communities they are reaching. It has been my pleasure to sponsor 50 children in Habigonj for the last 5 years. I am very happy to see that all my sponsored children receive clothing, medical care and educational assistance through DCI. It’s amazing that my small effort and gift has brought hope to these 50 children living in poverty. DCI has an excellent method of allowing everyone to apply their skills for the cause of fighting for children’s rights and lasting improvement in the world. I believe that DCI is a great organization that puts its head where its heart is and accomplishes its goals. DCI is not only helping the underprivileged children and their families but also whole communities in an effective, enduring and efficient manner. I am positive that in long run, DCI will make a significant difference in the world. I recommend that everyone visits DCI’s projects in Bangladesh or India, so you can see for yourselves the change DCI is making with your support. Thank you all for your support. Thank you DCI and please continue your amazing work! Dr. Mutahar Ahmed, MD, FACS Clinical Associate Professor of Urology University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Newark, New Jersey
Nazneen & Salauddin Ahmed
While visiting DCI’s Sun Child Home for Orphans in Bangladesh, we were very impressed by the small girls’ performance of dance and music. They are very smart and learn easily. The facility is very clean and tidy. We are lucky that we could come to meet them. Insha’Allah we will help them more in the future. –Nazneen & Salauddin Ahmed Libertyville, IL