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 Volunteers
It is a great experience working with DCI. The children at DCI’s Sun Child Homes are very impressive and very well mannered. I loved when they sang a song for me. Now I feel attached with these poor and underprivileged children and am happy to say that we are able to work for the cause of fighting for child rights and child labor prevention through DCI. I want to thank everybody involved in DCI for their dedication and effort. Russell Hasan California
Zaynah Chowdhury’s DCI Volunteering Experience
It was a pleasure getting to work with DCI and RSC over the summer. I found out about DCI through a relative of mine who is involved in recruitment and advocacy for the organization in the U.S., and thought I would see if I could do anything to help them while I was in Bangladesh. Since my interests lie in the medical field, I spent time at the Urban Health Care Clinic in the Mohammadpur slum. It was compelling and a great learning experience not only to be present when the patients were coming in, but to speak with the doctors about what kinds of problems the slumdwellers face. Most of the health issues were expected, but it was interesting to see the different skin infections they came in with as a result of living over sewage and it being the monsoon season. We got to speak with the women in the waiting room as well, who gave us firsthand accounts about their lives in the slums and how they came to live there. We also were able to make a trip to the slum and talk to some of the people there. It is amazing to see how they are managing to live in such accommodations, how the children still have fun, and how there is still a sense of community in the slums. The children were excited to see us and play with us, and the women we spoke to were very kind and responsive. I was very impressed with the eye surgery camps that DCI-RSC put on through the support of sponsors, so I asked my mother and grandmother to sponsor a camp. I am glad the donated money was able to support so many eye screening and cataract surgeries, and think improving/restoring eyesight is a very important cause that should be targeted for the health and welfare of the poor in Bangladesh. I think my favorite part of DCI’s mission is the Sun Child Sponsorship Program. Targeting young children and fulfilling their basic education needs is a very big step towards breaking the vicious cycle of poverty. The website that is set up for sponsoring children is easy to use, and I think it is great that a personal connection is made between donor and child by way of drawings or other such signs of progress that are sent to the donor. Now that I am back in the U.S., I will definitely do my best to recruit donors and advocate for DCI’s cause!
Last summer, I worked with Distressed Children & Infants International in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Working with DCI was one of the best experiences I have had. Although my trip was relatively short, I was able to connect with very sweet people from the slums of Dhaka. I will never forget the sweet young smiles of Koli and Jhumur, who lovingly called me ‘apu’ and were surprised that an American born Bangladeshi would even be able to speak a word of Bangla. As I asked about their lives and visited their homes, they asked me about my home and what the ‘bidesh’ America was like. I was greeted by their cheery faces and warm hugs whenever I visited and by the end of two weeks, I truly felt that I had been accepted into their community. I cannot wait until next summer when I go back to Bangladesh, hopefully with a solid project dealing with health problems in mind. I anticipate visiting my two little ‘apus’ in Bangladesh and hope to see that DCI is thriving well. Noha Ahmed
DCI is a fantastic upstart organization with a lot of potential that I would highly recommend volunteering with. Their commitment to helping children around the world is admirable and the scope of their projects commendable. Few organizations are as comprehensive when it comes to aid as DCI. Their sanitation and health awareness programs provide a solid foundation for their other initiatives in blindness prevention, female empowerment, and education. If you would like to volunteer with an organization that can truly make a difference in the lives of children in developing countries, DCI is for you!
Dr. Husna Siddique
It is really amazing what DCI is doing to make a difference and change the lives of the children around us. I wish I could spend more time in the clinic. It was really eye opening how limited the resources are! The level of healthcare that is provided is commendable, but still there is much room for improvement. Very few children in Bangladesh can really reach health care as well as preventive care. We have a lot to do for these children and their families. I hope to continue to do work with DCI in the future, as they are truly performing a great service for some of the most deserving in Bangladesh. I wish you all the best and congratulations again for your efforts and success! Husna Siddique, MD Brooklyn, NY
“My DCI Experience” by Salma Siddique
When I was five years old, I visited Bangladesh for the first time with my family. It was my first international experience, not only unique for that reason, but also because it was a trip to tie me to my roots, so that I could know where my family came from. Among many other firsts, I remember seeing children about my own age lining up next to car windows in the densely trafficked streets of Dhaka and begging for food and money. I had never grasped that children could live in conditions like that until then. During our visit, I went with my mother to a local clinic where she volunteered her time as a physician. Watching how she helped to treat the patients made me feel that she and the other doctors at the clinic were making an active difference in the lives of the children. At five years old, I could not comprehend why they were living in such conditions, why they had ailments I couldn’t diagnose, but I understood that I wanted to be a part of a solution to the problems I saw when I grew up. That was what motivated me to pursue medicine. During my second year of college, I became involved with Distressed Infants and Children International (DCI) by sponsoring a child in Bangladesh. Reminiscent of what had sparked my desire to pursue a career in medicine, I recently volunteered at DCI’s health clinic in the Kolanpur slum in Dhaka. The children in the slum had very little, were plagued with chronic diseases, and yet were happy with what little they had. I was only able to spend a short time there, but in that short time I saw clinical presentations I’ve never seen in America – kwashiorkor disease, chronic pustular otitis externa, varying degrees of malnutrition, and more. As a medical student, the experience was an eye opening one, giving me a viewpoint on global health, specifically in Bangladesh. The lack of resources in the clinic made me realize that much more had to be done to serve rapidly growing communities like this one. The DCI staff members were so helpful and welcoming. They took us through the slum where we saw the conditions in which the children and their families live. Talking to the children was refreshing. We had more in common than either of us would have imagined and their love for live was truly inspiring. After volunteering at the clinic, I was able to meet the girl I had sponsored for the past few years. Putting an actual face and personality to the pictures I had seen of her put so much into perspective for me. DCI truly makes a difference in the lives of these children. It is hard enough for children in villages and slums to go to school when they are pressured to start working to help support their families. If they have some financial support, some incentive to stay in school, medical care and basic needs provided, it makes things somewhat easier for them and their families. Things have changed a great deal since my first visit to Bangladesh so many years ago. It is because of organizations like DCI that change is coming to Bangladesh. There are efforts being made to promote good health and hygiene, clean drinking water, sewage treatment plants, adequate healthcare, and financial support to people who really need it. I am grateful to DCI for allowing me the opportunity to have volunteered with them, and to have been able to see how they are making a difference. Now I am fully committed to continue doing work with DCI in the future; they are truly performing a great service for some of the most deserving in Bangladesh. I hope that the next time I am able to visit Bangladesh, things will have changed even more for the better, and I am hopeful that DCI will be among the organizations at the forefront of that change. Salma Siddique Brooklyn, NY
DCI Volunteer Jon Coleman Visits Bangladesh to Perform Social Network Research
I could never have anticipated that I would go to Bangladesh. There are many obstacles that would have prevented me from ever travelling to Bangladesh. I am Jewish, frequently travel to Israel, and have an Israeli mother. Bangladesh does not recognize Israel, and has punished travel to Israel as a crime. Still, for nearly a month, I found myself in Dhaka and Shaula Village, Patuakhali District. I was given the opportunity to go to Bangladesh as a representative of Distressed Children & Infants International (DCI). DCI is a child rights organization. It has many inventive programs, but my focus was on the Rural Health Program and Sun Child Sponsorship Program (SCSP). The SCSP is a unique sponsorship program in that it targets children who are taken out of school to work to support their families. In addition to clothing and materials given to the children, the families are also given a stipend and income generating materials to keep their children out of work. I had been involved sporadically with DCI for a few years. My family sponsors two children in Shaula, but visiting seemed like a far off idea. My involvement in DCI started through my mother who, six years ago, sold a house to Dr. Ehsan Hoque. At that time DCI was an idea. As a Bangladeshi, Dr. Hoque saw children as the way to help his country. If the children are healthy and educated, they will be able to lift the country up. This is the driving force behind DCI. This vision was admirable, but it was the tireless work of Dr. Hoque and countless hours of work by his family and other volunteers that has garnered the support from diverse places such as Yale University and numerous health and child rights NGOs. DCI is now has chapters in multiple areas of the US with a constant stream of volunteers. The Sun Child Sponsorship Program now includes over 800 children in five villages throughout Bangladesh. I was in Bangladesh to assess the level of hygiene knowledge and to try and use graph theory and social networking as a means of speeding up behavioral change and basic health knowledge. The driving idea is that there are certain people that are already sought for advice. If we target these people and give them knowledge to spread around, we will speed up the process of information spreading. Bangladesh is a country of dichotomies. There are Lexuses, BMWs, and sports cars flying by bicycle-powered rickshaws and human powered “pickup trucks.” There are gated, expensive apartments bordering slums; the flurry of Dhaka against the tranquility of the villages. In some way, my mission was to reduce these disparities. I arrived in Dhaka on March 24. After the glitz and glam of Doha, Qatar, Dhaka was a real shock. As I walked from the terminal to the pick-up area, I glanced at the ruby-red sun and realized that this was going to be a very different place. When I walked outside, the thickness and stickiness of the air felt like a wall. Still, I arrived to much fanfare and greeters who held flowers. Then my three greeters and I pulled out of the airport basically straight into oncoming traffic. Horns blaring on all sides, I had arrived in Bangladesh. That trip to Mohammadpur was a rush. The crowds, the heat, and simply trying to internalize everything. After rolling down the dusty, narrow street of Mohammadi Housing District, I arrived to a packed office to more flowers and a true feast. I ate by flashlight because the power was out, which became something I eventually got used to. The next day, accompanied with Mr. Monaem, I took a short rickshaw journey – more for the experience than for practical reasons – to the Health for Underprivileged Program (HUP). I was met by an enthusiastic young doctor, Dr. Zaheed, sitting behind his desk and a large ledger, where all of the patients’ records were kept. The system was surprisingly sophisticated. Patients all carried a pamphlet with their identification and a brief medical history. Later that day, I visited the slums near the office. I tried to prepare myself for what I knew would an abject poverty I had never really experienced by looking at pictures others had taken. The tightness – such that we had to side-step single file, the scent – a mixture of burning trash, food, and waste, and the maze of the slums was something pictures could not capture. It was my first full day in Bangladesh, and even if there was anything I could say, I did not know how to say it. I saw seven people, two parents and five children, living in a shack that could not be more than six feet by eight. We could see the smoke billowing from the room because the cooking was done in the same hut. I was seeing Bangladesh through the lens of public health, so I could not help but think about the respiratory ramifications. The huts are also a mixture of wood and tin, making them hot and very flammable. The slums sit on bamboo stilts above wetlands. The toilet, a covered chute, empties into the same wetlands. The tube well spigot is about 150 feet from the toilet and maybe ten from the start of wetlands. As we made our way through the labyrinth of alleyways, we were met with houses stacked on top of each other, which leaned over the narrow streets. It was nearing dinner time, and we saw plates of rice covered with flies. It was unclear to me whether this rice would be eaten, or would be cooked again, but we asked one of the women whether she knew flies were all over her rice, and she replied, “Flies aren’t a problem.” In terms of public health, and in terms of emotion, this was overwhelming. With this experience behind me, I spent the next day meeting with different representatives of different organizations. I was able to observe an Aparajeyo Bangladesh clinic, an NGO orphanage. After going through some of the most concentrated and incredible traffic, rickshaws on all sides and everyone jockeying for position, we reached Saderghat boat terminal, where I would take a launch to Shaula Village. The road traffic was only equaled by the water traffic. Hundreds of small gondolas crisscrossing the oil-black water of the terminal, with shipping boats so full their decks were below water, I just stood and watched. By the time we started our journey, it was evening and the jetlag had caught up to me. I saw the fishing boats that checkered the night, and woke up at sunrise to another ruby-red sun. There were no buildings in sight, the water had turned a fresh green color, and the animals outnumbered the people. As the hours on the boat passed, the docks ended and the boat just pushed into the soft riverbank, and the villages grew less industrialized. After arriving in Shaula Village, Rajen, the DCI Project Manager in the village, and I walked through the Bogi Bazar, the main market in town. This was my first experience with celebrity as everyone’s eyes followed me down that dirt road. This would be a common occurrence as the days progressed. The next couple of days were spent exploring the village, to get more acquainted with the people and the geography. The next two weeks were spent collecting surveys. There are two government schools in Shaula – North Shaula School (KNS) and South Shaula School (KSS). Most of our first day was spent in KNS, where three classes all go on simultaneously in the same room and the classes only meet half of the day due to inadequate space. The kids were shy at first, and communicating that was very difficult, but the children and I started to understand one another. We played “head, shoulder, knees and toes,” and they taught me a few games. After a few hours, we made it through and completed more than enough surveys for the day. Later that day, we went to KSS. This school also served as a cyclone shelter, and had two classrooms, so classes still shared rooms. The children of the South school seemed a little less nervous to see me. This may have been because we arrived in the afternoon, when the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes meet, or it could be their proximity to the main arteries of the village. Either way I was treated to some Bengali songs and dances, and tried to share a few American ones. In the evening we started our social networking surveys. These were much more involved, took more time, and were hampered by the following that gathered around us. But in the next fourteen days we were able to complete over fifty of these surveys from all parts of Shaula, and an additional fifty children’s health assessment surveys. The other parts of the days were spent walking around and taking in all of the sights. I saw men climbing coconut trees, cattle driving, pre-industrial agriculture, and lots of fishing. Small boats that looked only big enough to fit one person were shared by entire families who lived on these boats year round. I was fascinated by these families. I could not imagine a life living on these tiny floaters. I was told of the danger of travelling by launch; how come the monsoon season, these ferries have a reputation for sinking. I wondered what happened to the fishermen during these times. I learned that it did not take a monsoon for tragedy to strike the fishermen. One night a one-year-old living on a boat with his family walked off of the boat and drowned. Every other night, the boy had been tied to the boat to prevent him from going overboard, but this night, the family had forgotten. They found his body that afternoon. The people in the village were the most hospitable people I had ever met. The little they had, they were always willing to give; food, chairs, drinks. After a few days, I had learned enough to say ‘Hello,” ask people their names, and “Thank you.” After the initial shock of hearing me say “Bhalo Achen?” the villagers felt more at ease. Every day as I would leave TDH, one boy was always waiting for me at the gate. Our Bangla and English were at similar levels, but it was one of the things I looked forward to each day. The two weeks I spent in Shaula helped me refine the goals of the mission. We were able to see quickly that certain people were clearly go-to people in terms of information sources. It was also amazing to see how different areas of the village had such varied social structures. For example, the area near the Bogi Bazar and the main market is denser, and people rely on neighbors for help and advice more than in other areas. As you move North in Shaula, the village becomes less dense, and because there is no quick communication, neighbors are relied on less and markets and other central areas relied on more. I spent much of my time just trying to glean what I could to understand the life in the village that was so different from my own. I was helped in this by two English-speaking Bangladeshis staying at the guest house. Every night we would have an “adah,” and talk politics, share songs and philosophies. When he could, Rajen would join, and we would talk through the power outages and late into the night. Two weeks and over one-hundred surveys later, I was back on the launch to Dhaka. I was excited to be able to communicate with my friends and family more regularly, but I was also sad to leave Rajen and the other friends I had made in the village. At a few points, between the celebrity-like stares, people came up to me and asked me not to leave, telling me that people liked me here. I was at a loss of what to say. I told them I would come back. The launch back was just as interesting as the first. The moon was full and low, which lit up the entire river as we paddled down. During my time in Shaula, I was warned about the unpredictability of the weather and the poor record of the launch. I had experienced some of this in the days prior to my return to Dhaka. The days were more humid in Shaula than Dhaka, but there was some refuge in the shade of the trees. But after cloudless days, the winds would change in the evenings, and would pick up the dust and shake the trees. The rain never came, which I was thankful for, but a week after I left, a monsoon did roll off the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh has so much to offer visually and culturally. The rickshaws are just as much art as transportation. The sun has an intensity I have not seen anywhere else. The Bangladeshis I met, child to adult, had innumerable songs, dances, and poetry memorized, while I relied on my IPod. The culture is also painstakingly hospitable. But it is hampered by corruption, poverty, and party politics that I felt from the capital all the way down to the seemingly ungoverned village. In many instances we were told that there were a few “elites” that the average villagers did not like in part because the people were different political parties, and this at times led to violence – in a 4000 person village. In the capital and in universities this is an unfortunate but regular occurrence. In many instances, including one of the families that I sponsor, there is only food if there is work that day. For the other child I sponsor, and in many such cases, children are left to friends or relatives for long stretches as parents go to the capital or cities in search of work. Bangladesh has an untouched natural beauty and a friendliness that I have found in very few other places. When I said I had never had a coconut before, I could not leave one family’s home until someone climbed a tree and got me a fresh coconut. The people were also had an insatiable curiosity about the US. As we would walk around, someone would point to a tree and ask “do you have this in America?” This happened dozens of times each day. The Bangladeshi people realize that there is a lot of work to be done in their country. Many people I met told me almost pleadingly that there is so much here, if only we fixed the poverty, or the health, or the corruption, etc. Solutions to these problems that have become commonplace and tacitly accepted, if not expected, will not come easily. Nevertheless, there are some very creative and selfless NGOs in Bangladesh making a real difference for the people. And while the environment is unique in Bangladesh, it is really the people that make Bangladesh special. I met many of these people on the ground in Bangladesh. The people who worked with me, worked tirelessly for the children. I came to recognize the power of providing small changes in poverty stricken peoples of Bangladesh, but also the power of one person’s vision to change the lives of thousands of people. Without Dr. Hoque and his family, there would be no volunteers, there would be no DCI, and hundreds of children would find themselves out of the classroom and in child labor. This is the power of one person’s vision.
The Hard-Working Hero Providing Hope for the Underprivileged
Phrases of Bangla filter into the room from the living room and kitchen. Relatives, some of whom traveled from a few states away and some of whom came all the way from Bangladesh, cycle in and out of the dining room, stopping to introduce themselves or make small talk. It’s two days after Thanksgiving, and with a house full of guests on a Saturday just after dinnertime, the head of the household, Dr. Ehsanul Hoque, is upstairs in a meeting that is running late and has an interview still ahead of him later in the evening. Working at all hours of the day, during the holidays, and during the weekend is nothing new for Dr. Hoque. In fact, the previous two days were the first Thanksgiving he had ever celebrated in his eighteen years in the U.S. Born in Barisal, Bangladesh, the father of two has been conducting research, learning complicated surgeries, and speaking to the public since the day he arrived, striving to earn enough success and garner enough support to get people to listen to him and help in his ultimate goal: to make a difference in his home country of Bangladesh and similarly impoverished areas. He is well on his way. In 2003 he started his own child sponsorship based charity, Distressed Children and Infants International (DCI), with Yale School of Medicine colleague Dr. Brian DeBroff. The charity has become a successful and multi-faceted web of support for those suffering in Bangladesh, particularly for the visually impaired. In the last year, Dr. Hoque left his position at Yale to devote all of his time to DCI. Working seven days a week and long into the night, Dr. Hoque has given up his time, energy, sleep, vacations, medical career, and essentially sacrificed himself in order to accomplish the goals he is so passionate about. Walking into DCI’s home office, a room over Dr. Hoque’s garage, it’s hard to believe it is the home of an international organization that sponsors over 1100 children. Five or six desks and tables are arranged around the room, covered in computers, binders, and paperwork. A man and a woman are sitting on a couch across the room, finishing up their meeting. A box of donated laptops sits on the floor and a few pictures break up the blank white walls. It isn’t until one sees the oversized computer monitor sitting on Dr. Hoque’s desk, or catches a glimpse of the thick eyeglasses he sports, that one of the underlying motivations for his work starts to become clear. Dr. Hoque was born with congenital cataracts. His condition, which can cause permanent blindness if not detected within the first four to five years of childhood, is caused by either a vitamin deficiency or a case of the measles when a mother is pregnant. Though Dr. Hoque was lucky enough to have his condition detected early and to have a family that was financially able to support the seven surgeries he underwent by the age of five, his thick eyeglasses hint at the visual impairment he still lives with even after these surgeries. These glasses were the subject of much pain during his childhood. Kids at school used to call him “kana,” the Bangla word for blind. One boy who sat to the right of him would take away his glasses, wave a number of fingers in his face, and ask him how many fingers he was holding up. “I had [an] inferiority complex,” Dr Hoque explains, as this sort of behavior was a daily occurrence for him. While the pain of these memories is clear in Dr. Hoque’s hesitation to talk about how he was treated, he says, “I bear the scars of my vision impairment, but I consider myself one of the lucky and fortunate ones—I was able to get treatment.” Thousands of Bangladeshi children are not so lucky. Dr. Hoque believes that his personal struggles keep him connected to the people of Bangladesh, and now he has put himself in a position to help those visually impaired children he understands so well. Through the infrastructure set up for DCI’s Sun Child Sponsorship Program, Dr. Hoque has been able to implement the Childhood Blindness Prevention Program. The program provides free eye exams, free eyeglasses, and even free eye surgeries to the families within DCI’s project areas; an essential development in a world where, according to the World Health Organization, half of all childhood blindness can be avoided by early treatment. The Childhood Blindness Prevention Program is a natural development from the early program Dr. Hoque developed while a student in medical school. He would pass out seeds and help teach expecting mothers about proper nutrition and agriculture to try to prevent the vitamin deficiencies in pregnancy that can lead to congenital cataracts. He would tell the women, “Look, these are my glasses. I have a problem,” using his own struggles to inspire them to help their unborn children. The program spread to his fellow students and other medical schools, and it was eventually expanded and incorporated into the infrastructure within DCI. The complex infrastructure and advisory committees already set up for the Sun Child Sponsorship Program have also allowed DCI to implement a disaster relief program, an orphan support program, a child rights awareness campaign, and a general healthcare program. “Poverty alleviation requires a highly interrelated approach,” Dr. Hoque explains. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, more than 40% of Bangladeshis are below the poverty line, giving Bangladesh the third largest number of poor people after India and China. DCI works to improve the education, healthcare, income development, schools, and communities within its project areas, helping every individual, not just the sponsored children, in an effort to make sure every part of the system improves and the poverty cycle can be broken. “I didn’t think initially that so many things were involved,” Dr. Hoque says, and it is clear the organization has grown larger and more complex than he ever anticipated. When Dr. Hoque first decided to become a doctor to help those struggling around him in Bangladesh, he never even expected to leave his home country. He imagined traveling around to the villages within the country, helping those who needed him. Eventually he realized, “If I come out of the country, I can help more efficiently,” and in 1990 he moved to America to do just that. It was here in the U.S. that he learned what he was really capable of. Recalling some early research and a complicated microsurgery in hearts, Dr. Hoque explains that he had thought the microsurgery procedure was “impossible for human beings.” After eight or nine attempts at the procedure, Dr. Hoque told his boss that he could not do the surgery. Upon hearing that Dr. Hoque had only made eight or nine attempts, his boss told him, “You have to try at least 100 times.” With a lot of practice and hard work, Dr. Hoque eventually became an expert in the procedure, something that would have been difficult even for someone with perfect eyesight. Other doctors ended up coming to him for training. Now Dr. Hoque believes “nothing is impossible for human beings.” He carries that refusal to accept failure and extreme work ethic into all of his work with DCI. Even with over 1100 sponsored children, numerous additional programs, and a family of his own to worry about, Dr. Hoque continues to expand his organization. The Sun Child Sponsorship Program has taken a distinct step away from other sponsorship programs by emphasizing the importance of the sponsors as well as those who are sponsored. Dr. Hoque actively encourages American young people to sponsor a child or, better yet, create a sponsorship team. He strongly believes that the money collected through the sponsorship program is not the most important thing; “the most important thing [is] learning.” He says that the union of children in sponsorship teams teaches them about leadership and educates them about the problems of the world. “Young people have more fresh ideas,” Dr. Hoque adds, insisting that youth involvement in DCI is a huge advantage to the organization. While many charities focus solely on a specific impoverished area, Dr. Hoque explains “America is my country,” and he wants to help the American people as much as those suffering in Bangladesh. Every person who helps or volunteers for DCI becomes a priority. Dr. Hoque believes in being “partners in success,” never hesitating to write college recommendations, find people internships, get people medical assistance, or grant lowly college students interviews if they’ve helped DCI in the past. He is constantly thanking everyone who is willing to help his organization. “He’s not just looking to help those 1100 kids who are at the end of the line,” DCI volunteer Philip Noel explains, “He wants to help everyone and anyone in between.” While Dr. Hoque’s desire to help everyone he comes into contact with and to help those struggling in Bangladesh in every aspect of their life is certainly noble, it’s also an extremely large undertaking. Many of the people Dr. Hoque works with will speak of receiving emails at two, three, four, and even five o’clock in the morning, leading many to wonder if Dr. Hoque even sleeps at all. “The phone [in the main office] is always ringing,” Noel says, “He’s talking to this person and he hangs up, and then it rings again and he’s talking in Bangla… He barely gets any sleep, and he probably rarely takes time to eat.” Dr. Hoque shows no signs of slowing down either. He first began trying to help in Bangladesh when he was fifteen, and now he believes he’s finally on the verge of being able to do something on a larger scale. Now that the DCI system in Bangladesh is almost perfected, Dr. Hoque hopes to use this system as a model to move the organization into other developing nations. Seeing all of the time and work Dr. Hoque puts into DCI at this stage in the game, it’s difficult to imagine him spreading himself any further. Recently Dr. Hoque has started to experience some trouble with his eyes again. Because he never really rests, his condition has only grown worse. In spite of everything, however, Dr. Hoque says, “I [now] have the confidence, the mental power, so that, even if I get blind, I will continue to do this job.” In an effort to direct all money towards those who need it in Bangladesh, Dr. Hoque has been reluctant to put anyone on salary for DCI. Because most DCI volunteers have regular day jobs, there currently isn’t enough manpower for Dr. Hoque to do all that he wants to do, so he takes on as much work as possible for himself. Dr. Hoque believes that, given the medical treatment he was able to receive as a child and the life he is able to lead in America, it would be selfish not to remember and try to help those in his home country. “Looking at my daughters living in America, I remember those distressed children in Bangladesh. I feel that they could have been one of them.” His passion and dedication to helping the underprivileged is clearly what is most important to him. “It’s like the reason he lives is because he’s got this passion for this cause,” Noel says. This is not hard to believe, as getting him to talk about himself and not just DCI was no easy task. For a man whose doctor recommended he not even be sent to school as a child, Dr. Hoque has certainly come a long way. With a medical degree, PhD, and an international organization under his belt, Dr. Hoque can teach people a lot about hard work and genuine compassion for humanity. Ever the optimist, he says “I know my effort will be a small drop in a big ocean, but it will still be something.”