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Karmirhath: A Short History

Introduction: Karmirhath, a humanitarian non-Government organization, was established on April 04. 1985 with the initiative of Mr. Rafiqul Islam, the then Assistant General Manager of Janata Bank. Gaibandha. The name 'Karmirhath' (Workers' Hands) was. proposed by Mr. Mahbubul Hoque Chowdhury. the then Assistant General Manager. Sonali Bank, Gaibandha at its first preparatory meeting.

The Mission of Karmirhath is to raise the socio-economic status of the poor, down­trodden, and less privileged people in the society through affordable health care, love. sympathy, honesty and hard work.

Karmirhath started its journey with a few poverty alleviation projects. such as, Rehabilitation of beggars.

Welfare of women and orphans. Job-oriented Mass Education and Literacy. Interest­-free loan (Karz-e-Hasana). Flood and Cyclone Relief, Blood Donation

Karmirhath Eye Hospital: In mid-1985, it was decided. after thorough deliberations. to start Karmirhath Eye Hospital as. at that time, there was no facility for treatment of any eye disease in pres­ent-day Gaibandha district and its surrounding areas. Eye patients had to travel to Rangpur Medical College for treatment.
The local people from all walks of life contributed to the initial fund of Karmirhath. They also donated different kinds of furniture.

After the establishment of Karmirhath Eye Hospital. the executive committee in a res­olution re-designated the position of convener as Director of Karmirhath Eye Hospital.

The out-door services of Karmirhath Eye Hospital was inaugurated on November 01. 1985 at u rented house on College Road, Gaibandha by Prof. Dr. Sadequl Alam. Head of the Department of Ophthalmology. Rangpur Medical College. Permission was obtained for Dc A.G.M. Golzer Rahman. Eye Specialist and Consultant Surgeon of Sadar Hospital. Gaibandha to work as Eye Specialist (Part Time) for Kannirhath Eye Hospital.

Mr. Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury, the then Prime Minister of Bangladesh inaugurat­ed the Indoor Services (Surgery) on August l4_ 1986. Mr. Mustaqur Rahman Rizvi. a paramedic and a member of Karmirhath, assisted Dr. A. G. M. Golzer Hossain. Later in August 1990. Dr. E. K. Shafoque, M. B. B. S. joined the medical team of K H Eye Hospital. An Advisory Committee for the Eye Hospital was also formed with the Deputy Commissioner as Chairman.

Karmirhath Hospital: After the establishment of Karmirhath Eye Hospital, activities of Karmirhath were mostly concentrated to the hospital and sometime in mid-9(1's, Karmirhath Eye Hospital Committee vanished and the 15-member executive committee of Karmirhath managed the affairs of Karmirhath Eye Hospital.

The Diabetic Section was opened in 1998. Subsequently. the Children section was opened in 2003. Mothers' Cure section in 2(H)5 and Dental Care center in 2(X)7. Karmirhath Eye Hospital then became known as Karmirhath Hospital.

Karmirhath Hospital has treated the following patients till November 2007:

A. Eye treatment: General 1985
B. Cataract Surgery 1986
C. Diabetic 1998
D. Children 2003
E. Pregnant Mothers 2005
F. Dental Care 2007

Fund: In absence of any major donor, Karmirhath Hospital continued its services with the irregular donations from different members of the public and a few organizations like the District Council, Gaibandha. Gaibandha District Administration and Social Welfare department Gaibandha. Some time in mid-90s. a committee was formed with the well-to-do people from Gaibnndha living in Dhaka in order to raise funds for Kannirhath Hospital. It was a good attempt for raising funds. But, the newly formed committee fizzled shortly, perhaps. due to lack of coordination. No other major proj­ect was taken till 1998 because of shortage of fund.

Karmirhath Zakat Fund used to get some small donations since its inception. Since 200G. some efforts are being made to collect Zakat from members of local public. The response is encouraging. This year an amount of about taka sixty thousands were col­lected. The biggest amount. Tk.40, (X)O/ was given by a young man of Gaibandha. who prefers to remain un-identified. Mostly members of Karmirhath contributed the remaining amount. We hope to strengthen this effort in future.

Major Donors: Mr. Abdul Wahid, a son of Gaibandha and Managing Director. Naheed Cotton Mills. Dhaka has been helping Karmirhath from its inception. He starred helping Karmirhath in a bigger way with the opening of Diabetic section in 1998. He has donated in the following projects till July. 2007:
Diabetic section, (b) Eye section, (c) Eye camps. (d) Power Generators. (e) Allows to use a double story building on 28 decimal land, free of rent, since 2003, and (f) Occasional help with cash whenever there was a need of it.

SpaandanB-NT: A group of Bangladeshi young men living in North Texas. USA has sponsored the Child section since 2003. Mr. Firoze Kabir, a member of Spaandanb­NT and son of Alhajj Fazlul Karim, x member of Karmirhath helped in obtaining the sponsorship. Spaandanb-NT is helping Karmirhath start Pharmacy Section.

The incumbent president, while he has been living in the US from 1990 to 2006, was instrumental in bringing the following donors for Karmirhath:

North American Bangladeshi Islamic Community (NABIC). NABIC has sponsored the following projects since 2001:

A number of costly equipments for Eye and Pathological sections during 2001-2006, (b) Monga Relief in 2006, (c) Winter Relief in 2006, (d) Dental Care center in 2007, (e) Flood Rehabilitation in 2007, (f) Anti-Dowry Project in 2007 and (g) School Sports Complex in 2007
Col (Retd) M Akbar, a Bangladeshi resident in New York sponsors over 40 cataract operations annually since 2003 Kitty Khundkar, wife of Col. Akbar sponsors the Mothers' care section since 2005.

Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM), USA has donated 550 wheelchairs each in 2006 and 2007 for free distribution among poor disables. They committed three containers of wheelchairs (1650 numbers) in 2008. (Col. Akbar and the present president jointly worked to get the sponsorship of FWM.) Very recently, FWM has expressed its desire to give Karmirhath as many wheelchairs as we can handle in the years ahead.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Abdul Wahid has suddenly stopped all sons of help to Kartnirhath since August 2007 for no fault of the organization. The executive com­mittee as well as the general body of Karmirhath have appealed to Mr. Wahid to resume his donation to Karmirhath.

With an improved management, the economic hardship experienced due to sudden cessation of monetary help from Mr. Wahid has been overcome. Each section of Karmirhath Hospital including Eye and Diabetic sections are now self-sufficient. We have started holding eye camps again from our own resources. We have made an appeal to Mr. Wand to allow us to continue in the present premises till an accommo­dation is found.

On-going Projects:

  • Karmirhath Hospital
  • Eye Care including Eye Camps
  • Diabetics Care
  • Children Care
  • Mothers' Care
  • Dental Care

Distribution of free wheelchairs among poor disables. As mentioned above, we are getting three containers of wheelchairs for free distribution in 2008.

Anti-Dowry Program: Under this program. initially, a batch of 20 girls aged between 14 and 16 years from poor families will be trained in cooking, sewing, rearing of live­stock and poultry. After one year training each girl will be given either a cow or a few dozens poultry as her income generating project. The object is to make the girls an income generating individuals so that they may be married off without dowry.

School Sports Complex Project: Under this project, sports facilities such as table tennis, badminton. double swing, seesaw and double slide will be installed at Bishnupur girls school Shahpara union.

Flood Rehabilitation 2007: About l00 houses with C. I. Sheet over wooden/bamboo truss will be built in flood affected area.

Crematory: Kerosene-fired crematory has been designed with the help of a local innovator. A suitable site is being selected in a Hindu-populated area.

Land for Karmirhalh Complex: [mmediatelv after Karmirhath Hospital was established, attempts were made to find suitable land for the hospital. An application for a plot of railway land was submitted to the Estate Officer. Bangladesh Railway. Lalmonirhat. The application, after being processed at Lnlmonirhat and Rajshahi went to the Railway Bhavan in Dhaka for final approval. It was found being processed there in June 1990. Later. it was leamt that the application was lying idle at Railway Bhavan due to non-persuasion. Karmirhath thus lost the land. Markaz Masjid took half of the land later.

Again in September 2007. an application for about 70 decimals of railway land was submitted to the Estate Officer, Bangladesh Railway, Lalmonirhat. Local survey has been made and the file is being submitted to the General Manager. Bangladesh Railway (Western zone). Rajshahi.

Future Expansions: While inaugurating the free distribution of wheelchairs in October. 2006, the then Minister for Social Welfare. Government of Bangladesh committed an amount of Taka ten crore for the establishment of a 150 bed general hospital. Accordingly, a project proposal for the proposed hospital has been submitted to the Ministry of Social Welfare.

Anti-Dowry project will be expanded gradually to cover the entire district of Gaibandha. More overseas donors are being contacted for this project.

School Sports Complex will also be expanded to cover more and more schools that lack these facilities.

More wheelchairs will be brought for free distribution among the poor disable people in different districts. We are very hopeful about getting funds for this humanitarian project.


The following dignitaries visited Karmirhath Eye Hospital at different occasions:
  • Mr. Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury, Ex-Prime Minister
  • Dc Abdul Matin, Ex-Deputy Prime Minister
  • Dr Fazle Rabbi, Ex-Speaker
  • Advocate Fazle Rabbi, Ex-State Minister and Ex-MP
  • Dr. Mohammad Yunus, Founder, Grameen Bank
  • Dc Sadequl Atam, Head of Ophthalmology, Rangpur Medical College
  • Dr. Ahmed Sharif, Director National Institute of Ophthalmology
  • Dr. Mustafizur Rahman, Eye Surgeon and Founder Director of Bangladesh Eye Care Society
  • Mr. A. K. M. Mayedul Islam, Ex-Minister
  • Mr. S. M. AI-Hussainy, Chief, Swanirvar Bangladesh
  • Rtn. Mansur Chowdhury, President, A B C
  • Alhajj Abdul Wahid, Managing Director, Naheed Textile Mills, Dhaka
  • Dr Sadrul Ula, President, NABIC
  • Mr. Mahmudul Hasan, President, Spaandanb-NT
  • Col (retd) M. Akbar
  • Miss. Kitty Khundkar

Cooperation with other Organizations: Karmirhath worked in collaboration with the following national and international organizations: Sight Savers International, London, Association of Development Agencies in Bangladesh (ADAB), Association for Community Educations, Swanirbhor Bangladesh, Bangladesh National Society for the Blinds (BNSB), BRAC, Helen Keller Foundation, CARE, ADI-ILJNIK, Sandhani, Rabeta Alam Islam, etc.

Services Recalled: With deep respect I recall the services of late Mr. Rafiqul Islam, the Founder President of Karmirhath. Karmirhath Hospital was possible due to his exceptional visionary zeal. All odds were there against the establishment of an Eye Hospital at Gaibandha where not even a paramedic was available in those days. But his strong positive atti­tude and vision made the impossible possible. The members of the team he chose for the establishment of the hospital did their job wonderfully.

Mr. Abdur Razzaque Porn worked hard as the founder general secretary of Katmirhath and as a member of the hospital. Mr. Abdul Mazed Raju acted as the Project Director of Karmirhath Eye Hospital after Mr. M. A. Sobhan left the hospital as its director. Mr. Shajada Anwarul Quadir acted as President for a short time after Mr. Rafiqul Islam moved to Rangpur on transfer. Later, Mr. M Fulul Hoque, vice president was elected president. During his able leadership, Kamurhath took a few good projects on mass education. After the death of Mr. Hoque in March 1996, Mr. Shahjada Anwaml Quadir was elected president in mid-1996. He served Kartnirhath well with best of his capacity till May 2006. After Mr. Abdur Razzaque Putu, Mr. Mustaqur Rahman Rizvi acted as General Secretary. Advocate Sekendar Azam Anam, in early 1996, took over as General Secretary. This young and vibrant advocate served Karmirhath very well for long ten years and a half. Karmirhath treasures were safe in the hands of Khaudakar Moffazzal Hossain as its Treasurer from the date of inception of Karmirhath to May 2006, over long 21 years! He did a very good job.

Conclusion: Karmirhath has established itself as a sincere service provider for the poor in this area. Over the last few years, its expansion in providing different humanitarian services is noteworthy. The distribution of 1,100 wheelchairs free to the poor disable people dur­ing 2006 and 2007 has enhanced the already good images of Karmirhath. The name of Karmirhath has now spread beyond the boundary of Gaibandha district as it has distributed wheelchairs also in the districts of Rajshahi (511 nos), Pabna (23 nos) and Fatikchhari (10 nos). It may be mentioned here that no organization has ever distrib­uted such a large number of wheelchairs free. Karmirhath hopes to do more for the needy in future with the cooperation of its valued donors and patrons.