Thank you so much. Thank you and welcome. Ladies and gentleman it’s my distinct pleasure to be here among all the distinguished guest. On behalf of the UDiON Foundation, let me express my deepest gratitude for the privilege of addressing this event.
Tonight is a particular honor for me because – let’s face it – my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely among all the dignitary and distinguish guest seating before me. I was born and raised in middle class family in Mirsarai, fortunately residing in Jacksonville, FL. I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, I believe hard-work and charm are the ingredients that bring success in life. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger Bangladesh story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible.
Today, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, our beloved Bangladesh- not because of the great ecological diversity of the “Sundarbans,” or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple truth our glorious Language movement of 1952, culminating in the bloody birth of our nation in 1971 “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That is the true genius of Bangladesh – a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles and the sacrifice of our loved one.
They dreamed one day we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted at least, most of the time.
My fellow Bangladeshi, Awamee League, BNP, Jamat, Jatio Party, Independents – Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or do we participate in a politics of hope? I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More work to do for the children’s I met in Mondia, in karer hat, Mirsarai and many parts of Bangladesh, they needs us, need our helping hands to guide them, lift them and show them the path that you and I took, make them understand that it is possible to be successful it is possible that you don’t have to live in poverty for rest of your life. Now don’t get me wrong. The people I meet – in small villages, in Bosties – they don’t expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead – and they want to, folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach our kids to learn – they know that parents, community people like you and me have to reach out and teach, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and eradicate the slander that says Rikshawalar sele can’t be educated. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in rural Bangladesh has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice and UDiON is Dedicated to give them that choice, as we say “We are Dedicated to Educate” to eliminate poverty because we invented the model that no others have.
UDiON believes in you, and we know that it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the Bangladesh saga. A belief that we’re all connected as one people. It is that fundamental belief, I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper that makes UDiON work hard. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one Bangladesh family. If there is a child in my village who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a child without shelter or voice, that threatens my civil liberties and it should matter to you.
I’m not talking about blind optimism here – the almost willful ignorance that thinks poverty will go away if we just don’t think about it, or the education crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something more substantial, hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead. I believe that we can give our children’s with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in small villages across Bangladesh from violence and child labor. I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that we face.
Dear Friends! Tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do – if we do what we must do, then I have no doubts that all across the world, the people will rise up and support the initiative we took, and out of this long darkness a brighter day will come.
Thank you very much. May Allah bless you all and bless all the children’s of Bangladesh and all the children of the world. Thank You.