This is the second part in a two-part series on Brighter Dawns, a non-profit founded earlier this year by Tasmiha Khan ’12. Following several humanitarian trips to Bangladesh in 2008 and this spring, where Khan witnessed the daily struggles of residents of Dhaka, the capital cities, and the surrounding slums, she returned to campus this semester determined to start an organization to help deliver aid to the impoverished nation.
To find members for her new organization, Tasmiha Khan ’12 looked first to look to her circle of friends, several of whom have become essential to BD’s goals. Despite her personal dedication Khan emphasized that her team, including Lindsay Kenney ’12, Bonnie Quach-Wong ’12, and Shirley Wu ’12, is central the organization’s success.
Quach-Wong, who currently serves as BD’s treasurer, joined BD after learning about Khan’s experiences in Bangladesh this past summer.
“When Tasmiha first approached me about starting this group, she talked to me about her summer experience and how much it impacted her,” Quach-Wong said. “When I saw that an organization like this was possible, I had to commit.”
Quach-Wong sees the vision, energy, and awareness of Brighter Dawns’ members
“I love seeing overwhelming creativity of the group,” Quach-Wong said. “We all know that there are horrible things going on in the world, but we still acknowledge how little we actually understand. Numbers and statistics aren’t enough to convey what’s going on. No one can really understand until you’re in the middle of it. I, myself, don’t even understand.”
BD’s current focal project is to provide clean water to the people of Bangladesh through a variety of methods aimed at improving sanitation as well as providing hygiene education. In particular, BD is working to provide safe water to the slum of Khalishpur. BD’s project is ambitious—the organization hopes to supply clean, fresh water to 1,000 Bangladeshi households. BD plans to install 30 sanitary latrines, 10 tube wells, as well as supply slum residents with 1,000 hygiene kits. In addition, BD plans to establish three full-time, paid community-monitoring officers who will ensure that residents maintain good hygiene as well as conduct health education training. Still, the clean water project is not without the necessity of extensive financial expenditures. The current budget for the clean water project is estimated to be $15,329.
Kenney has also been instrumental in BD’s fundraising efforts for the clean water initiative, the group’s first project.
“I serve as the ‘snack pack’ committee leader,” Kenney said. “Our first fund-raising project was to sell healthy snacks in the campus libraries to raise money for cleaner water in Bangladesh.”
In addition to fundraising, BD is working to inform the University’s students of the water situation in Bangladesh.
“We hung informational flyers about Brighter Dawns above various water fountains on campus,” Kenney said.
According to Kenney, student participation in BD is quickly picking up speed on campus.
“It amazes me that within the matter of weeks, Brighter Dawns grew to include over 50 members who are willing to actively support the cause,” Kenney said.
Khan did not limit BD’s membership to University students only. She reached out to various faculty members to gain their support for BD’s cause.
Although the majority of BD’s work is focused around improving conditions in Bangladesh, the organization aims to have a global focus.
“Right now, our number one priority is increasing awareness in the Wesleyan community of our group and of slum conditions, not only in Bangladesh but in slums all over the world,” Quach-Wong said.
For now, BD is focused exclusively in Bangladesh, and the organization has plans for projects beyond the clean water initiative, among them creating a community health center in Khalishpur, raising funds for the renovation of an elementary school, and establishing an infrastructure for housing.
“They are ambitious ideas,” Khan said. “With enough support, committed and motivated people, and God’s will, I think it can happen.”
To become involved with Brighter Dawns, please email the organization at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow BD on Twitter at twitter.com/brighterdawns.