The foundation helps poor children attend schools, reunites families who have been separated, and is supporting people and communities hit by Cyclone Amphan and the pandemic. Its founder, Parvez Hasan, has a life story that mirrors the sufferings of the people he helps now
One day on the street, Parvez Hasan noticed two children trying to comfort their mother, exhausted from the heat, by pouring water on her head using a small plastic bowl.
Parvez could feel the pain of those children as he himself lived through similar struggles during his childhood.
He instantly went ahead to help that family, and uploaded their photos and a video on his Facebook profile immediately.
The post did not take time to go viral and inspired many good people to reach out to him.
To know more about the whereabouts of the mother and the children, Parvez again went to them the next day.
A small chat with the family revealed that they hailed from Kurigram, a northern district, and had been made homeless by river erosion. On top of that, the father of the children was suffering from cardiac diseases and his treatment had rendered them penniless at the time.
Subsequently, the deputy commissioner of Kurigram came forward to help the distressed family and alongside Parvez bought the family a battery-run easy bike and rebuilt their house. Their children are now in school.
That one incident inspired Parvez to set up the Sohomormita Foundation in 2018. Many people have since extended their helping hands to the Foundation to provide disadvantaged children with an education. Besides, they help people find their lost families and enable them reunite.
So far, they have succeeded in facilitating education for 44 children and helped 88 families find and be reunited with their lost parents or relatives.
One of its mottos is to "break the cycle of poverty through education and rebuild the nation together".
"We dream of creating a society free of hunger and poverty. I believe that young people can make the impossible possible because they possess the ability to change the world," he said.
"We want to work with new ideas for the wellbeing of impoverished people," he added.
Providing assistance to the people affected by Cyclone Amphan
Sohomormita Foundation stood by the people affected by Cyclone Amphan in Shatkhira through distributing food and other necessaries. Parvez along with his team hurried to the vulnerable spots and started taking people to safe shelter as soon as the cyclone was forecast.
In the cyclone-affected areas, the team faced major challenges, like devastated houses, ruined sanitary system, and huge number of homeless as well as starved people. The volunteers of the foundation led the villagers to safe shelters by boats, offered them cooked food and other essentials for a couple of weeks.
"Soon we found that the sanitary and sewage systems of the entire region had been destroyed and women and girls could not observe menstrual hygiene," said Parvez.
Sohomormita Foundation has already provided over 2,000 families with food and sanitary napkins, and is at present working to repair their damaged residence.
Abdur Rauf Sheikh of Katmarchar village in Uttar Betkashi union of Koyra Upazila said, "Shohomormita Foundation, after the cyclone hit our area, set up a market to distribute essentials. We have got numerous benefits from that."
"They have worked so hard for us from the onset of Amphan to provide readymade food and daily necessary commodities. They stood by us through various collaborations, including construction of temporary toilets and tube wells in our area," he added.
Other philanthropic endeavours
With about 2,000 volunteers, Sohomormita Foundation has been active in promiting humanitarian endeavours in these trying moments.
Since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, Parvez as well as his team has been providing food and daily necessaries to the families with middle or low earning ability.
Up to now, they have been able to help confidentially about 5,000 such families during these pandemic days.
The foundation established a project named Ek Takar Medical Camp (Medical treatment for only one taka) which provides the people in need with physicians' advice medicines for free.
They have so far managed to donate blood to over 3,500 patients.
During various festivals, Sohomormita Foundation arranges another philanthropic venture named HashirDokan (shop of laughter) which offers children with toys and new clothes in exchange of flowers, crafts, paintings, or just simple pledges to help others.
The foundation, at present, operates its welfare activities in 31 districts, including Dhaka, Cumilla, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Barishal.
No pain, no gain
Parvez, a smiling and dynamic man, has a painful past. He was born in 1996 in Chandpur Sadar Upazila. While growing up, he went through a series of bitter experiences. His parents were forced to move to Savar.
They were struggling to turn their life around, and so left Parvez in the village with his grandmother. He was admitted to a school where he studied till fifth grade.
"People around me used to criticise me for living in my grandfather's home. But my grandma always tried to console my broken heart, advising me to not pay any heed to people's silly words," said Parvez.
His uncle once brought him to Dhaka promising to enrol him to a school. Instead of doing so, he employed Parvez in his own tea shop at Shahbagh. In exchange for food and clothing, Parvez served his uncle all day long. At the end of the month, Tk1,000 was handed over to his mother.
"I really wanted to go to school, but I could not. But I would read books by myself. I used to read a lot of magazines from the nearby shops," he said.
After spending three years in his uncle's shop, he managed a job in a restaurant.
He quickly learned how to cook and joined another restaurant that gave him a better offer. He earned a handsome amount after working for a while.
"With the help of one of my uncles, I began to set up food stalls in the fairs held at the district level, which brought good returns," said Parvez.
Meanwhile, his family had gained some solvency. He also married off his younger sister to a solvent husband. The latent desire to study became active again. He tried his hand at freelancing after reading success stories of young people involved in it.
"I used to spend a lot of time on my computer. Newspaper reports constantly inspired me. Then I tried to Google how to do freelance work," said Parvez.
He got the first work opportunity in 2018 as a freelancer and he is still working in this field.
After enrolling in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) programme under Bangladesh Open University, he now dreams of a better future.
"We are in need of as many altruistic people as possible. Therefore, anyone with a philanthropic mind is welcome to work with us at the Sohomormita Foundation," he appealed to people.