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'They are as capable as we are, just different'

  • Published at 04:57 pm September 28th, 2018
Concert for Autism awareness
People came in great numbers to attend 'Concert for Autism Awareness'| Syed Himu

The idea behind these kinds of events is simple. Music is what brought all these people together. Music shall also transmit the noble message for which the concert was called. 'Concert for Autism Awareness' is a new concept for a country such as Bangladesh. If there are sceptics about the success of such events, then I request them to be a part of such events before they make any judgment

Sanjida Rahman Danny, the ideator for 'Concert for Autism Awareness,' was characteristically seeing to the seating arrangements of the differently abled children| Syed Himu

In line with the idea that band music will transmit the message of a particular cause to the masses in attendance, the founder and chairman of PFDA-Vocational Training Center Sajida Rahman Danny thought of having a “Concert for Autism Awareness.” 

The “differently abled” children of Bangladesh almost never get much limelight. I must congratulate her for being able to convince such a star-studded line-up to perform for this cause – the line-up being Miles, Warfaze, Souls, Dalcchut, Feedback, Maqsood o’ Dhaka, Shironamhin, Powersurge, Nemesis, Vikings, Arbovirus and Dreek.

I entered the Bangladesh Army Stadium at 3:30pm today (Friday)to watch the said concert; the stage was set and people already flocking the barrier to the VIP section, to get a close glimpse at the stage. Dreek got on stage first at exactly 3:40pm. The vocalist welcomed everyone in attendance and thanked them for coming out on a weekend for such a special cause. 

They began the concert with a cover of the classic Queen song, “We will rock you” and the energy of the first arrivals in the crowd starting surging and went on to render their original “Notun Alo” which was followed by a tribute to Freddy Mercury with the vocalist paying a tribute to the singer by demonstrating the range of his voice.

After Dreek the famous band of the 90s Feedback took to the stage with a guest artiste joining them. The artiste’s name is Isaba Hafiz Shusmi, a “differently abled” child who surprized everyone with the perfection with which she sang her song. After she got off stage amid loud cheers, the president of Bangladesh Musical Band Association (Bamba) Hamin Ahmed of Miles congratulated her on her performance and shook hands with her.

I asked Isaba about her musical journey and she replied,assisted by her music teacher Shihab Shahriar. “I first started singing after arriving at the PFDA-Vocational Training Center. Neither my familynor I was aware that I could sing. 

In regard to today’s (Friday) performance she said: “I have always liked listening to Feedback. My teacher helped me choose the song. I was not at all nervous. I have enjoyed every bit of it. I loved it especially when the crowd cheered me.”

Isaba Hafiz Shushmi, a differently able child, performed her favourite song live with popular band Feedback| Syed Himu

When I asked Danny about this special performance she replied, “A ‘differently abled’ child has never performed with one of the mainstream bands of a country live on stage, so this is definitely a first for our cause.”

In response to how Bamba got involved with such a magnificent cause Hamin said: “I got involved with this cause, because my middle child and my youngest are autistic. I sincerely believe that they are ‘differently abled,’ not disabled. I know how a family suffers silently with such children due to the stigma of society. I first realized this stigma when I had my own children.  When I investigated this cause, I saw that there are many families with ‘differently abled’ children. 

“Then I contacted PFDA through a friend, and that is when we first talked about a concert like this. This was two years back. After two years we have finally managed to organize this. Our aim is to preach our slogan. These children have intellect, understanding and capacity to do the same things as we do. They just do it differently. We hope that through initiatives likes this people will realize this and help them and their families to integrate into our mainstream society. You saw Isaba perform her favourite song with Feedback. We will also have someone perform with Miles. 

"What we will try to explain through our collective performance is that our slogan is actually true."

The president of Bamba Hamin Ahmed of Miles at 'Concert for Autism Awareness'| Syed Himu

In response to whether the concert crowd will get the message Hamin said, “We have invited our fans to be part of this cause. This is not a free concert. Therefore everyone who came in person is proving by their presence that they are part of this cause. This concert is our first step in this lifelong awareness campaign. After concluding this we will be able to tell what the next step would be.”

The general secretary of Bamba Sheikh Monirul Alam Tipu also had this to say about the concert, “Our current president (of Bamba) Hamin Ahmed and our former president Syed Maqsoodul Haque were thinking about this cause for a long time. PFDA joined our plan, which was formed two or three years back. Since then we were gradually able to organize this, and I am happy that the event is happening now.”

When asked if the concert is on its way to be a success Tipu said, “First of all, the fact that this concert is happening is a success of its own, because execution is very important. At the same time, the people who are coming to this concert are well aware of the reason for this, and knowing the cause they have decided to participate.

“Awareness is not a one-day thing. You cannot develop it in a day. It is a matter of time; earlier there was nothing. Now at least people are becoming aware. We just have to continue spreading this message across the whole country as much as we can,” he added. 

The idea behind these kinds of events is simple. Music is what brought all these people together. Music shall also transmit the noble message for which the concert was called. “Concert for Autism Awareness” is a new concept for a country such as Bangladesh. If there are sceptics about the success of such events, then I request them to be a part of such events before they make any judgment.

As part of a nail polish campaign to show support for autism, many iconic band members got a single nail polished | Syed Himu

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