100 Smiles 2014

Saturdays are usually not very eventful in the typical Dhakaite’s life. The traffic is relatively lazy, schools are out and it’s the underdog day of the weekend. On July 19, however, the One Degree Initiative Foundation (1dI) went all out and hosted the fifth year of 100 Smiles. The One Degree Initiative Foundation is a registered organisation that encourages the youth to be more socially involved. Conceived in 2010, 100 Smiles is a flagship project of 1dI that aims towards sharing the joy and essence of Eid with children from low income families.

In the last four years, 1dI has reached out to 1269 volunteers in Dhaka and Chittagong and has been responsible for generating 7145 smiles. Last Saturday’s event was held at the field inside Lalmatia Housing Society School and College in Dhaka. The event lasted from 11am to 4pm and in those 5 hours the event was home to 300 very enthusiastic volunteers and 350 children from low income families. The event had all sorts of activities like a ferris wheel, football matches, a monkey show, henna stalls, face painting booths, bioscope shows and puppet shows also! The children played with the volunteers and were given balloons too. The carnival started with a lot of running around and since the day would be eventful with expected rainfall also, they set up a first aid corner for the children.

By 1pm, the children were provided with light snacks and water. The children proceeded to play with the volunteers which included games like tag, ‘borof-paani’, football, ‘latim’ and hopscotch. The event took a very interesting turn when some of the volunteers broke into dance with the children and performed their very own flash-mob. The event simmered down by around 3pm. The kids were bid farewell with each receiving a goody bag.

Volunteer Aawatef Rahman Khan, 20, said, “You know the project is a success when the kids go home happy and volunteers have a bunch of stories to share from the field.” He went on to say that he absolutely loved hanging out with one kid, Rafiq, who wanted to run a race with Aawatef. On his first time at 100 Smiles, Fardeen Shayan, 17, said, “This was my first time at 1dI but all the volunteers were very welcoming. I became really good friends with a six year old, Khoka, and I’ll tell you this — he’s a brilliant dancer.”

This article was published on Shout, a weekly publication of The Daily Star on Thursday, July 24, 2014.