One Small Investment
By Mohiul Hoque
As a student growing up in Chittagong Division in the 1990s, I had to walk eight to ten miles to reach a weekly computer class. Often I arrived only to find that the electricity was out. Simple communication and proper information and communication technology (ICT) training was next to impossible in my part of Bangladesh at that time. Even receiving mail from my “local” post office could take a month. Rather than getting discouraged, I became more determined to pursue my own education, and to make life easier for others. To address the postal service issue, I established a post office at my Madrasha, which now serves more than 100,000 people.
In 1998, I began teaching and leading Naziria Naymia Mahmudia Madrasha and now I am a Chief Imam-Khatib (Religious leader) in my community. In 2004, I participated in ‘Training on ICT’ supported by the American Center, U.S. Embassy Dhaka at Imam Training Academy, Islamic Foundation Bangladesh. I not only gained the experience with computers I had long sought for myself, I shared that knowledge with my students and fellow teachers around Bangladesh. In 2007, I was nominated for the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and so began my transformation from trainee to change maker through my organization ‘Mahmudia Foundation Trust.’
The American Center Dhaka has been a key partner in my quest to train more educators and empower women. Access to the latest technology is still hard for us, but lack of resources hasn’t slowed me down. I have been recognized by the President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh, but more importantly, I have been able to give thousands of students a free education. I believe technology is the only hope that can free us from the pangs of poverty.
On September 27 and 28, 2015, I participated in the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Global Youth Summit at the United Nations General Assembly. It renewed my confidence that
I can strengthen the skills and capacity of our community and religious leaders to promote a culture of peace. We can ensure that our efforts to counter violent extremism are gender sensitive and utilize best practices to be inclusive of women and girls. We have, we can, and we will build support from parents and families to involve youth in all our efforts to address extremist violence.