Have you heard of Captain Tom Moore? Chances are you have. He is the 100-year-old war veteran who raised a remarkable £30 million for the NHS and the plight of its workers in these dire circumstances, by walking 100 laps of his garden.
His story was shared by every major news broadcasting platform in the UK, decorated as a national hero for its efforts, causing the country to fall in love with him and his goals, and helping to exceed his initial modest £1,000 target he had hoped for.
Have you also heard of Dabirul Islam Choudhury? Chances are you probably haven’t. He is another 100-year-old man who, inspired by Tom Moore, also decided to walk laps in his garden to raise funds for coronavirus victims in the UK and Bangladesh amongst a list of other countries.
While the news is littered with depressing headlines, and the dreaded death toll is constantly at the bottom of our screens, the story of Dabirul Islam Choudhury is one that to bring a smile to your face.
Residing in St Albans, ‘one of the most highly respected individuals’ of the community, he followed in the literal footsteps of his fellow centurion, war veteran colonel Tom Moore, and embarked on his journey to raise £1,000 for those affected by coronavirus here and in Bangladesh as well as those delivering aid to refugees, by walking laps of his 80-metre communal garden.
Having achieved his target within a few hours of launching his fundraising campaign, he thus pledged to continue walking laps and raising money until the end of Ramadan, all while continuing to observe fasting during the month!
Born in Bangladesh, Mr Choudhury moved to London in 1957 to study English literature. Like many others, he has been self-isolating during this period for around two months under the government prescribed lockdown measures.
His son, Atique Choudhury, informed reporters that his father has taken the reigns of many fundraising projects over the years and shows no sign of slowing down.
“When we started, we started at a small pace but he’s been increasing his number of laps he’s doing. The problem we have is that we have to try and stop him because he wants to carry on.”
The money raised from his campaign is crucial for vulnerable people in areas like Bangladesh. Residents starve if they don’t work for a week or two; these are the circumstances people find themselves in currently due to the pandemic.
Bangladesh currently ranks 46th in the world for the number of coronavirus-related deaths with 214, which equates to approximately 0.68% of the UK death toll. However, as one of the world’s most populated countries, there are concerns of a heightened outbreak, which will inevitably lead to social and economic pitfalls.
Farhad Musad Khan, the project lead for the charity Mr Choudhury is collecting for, Ramadan Family Commitment (RFC) COVID-19 crisis initiative, described him as “very bright and very bubbly, full of life.”
“We like to invite people who have got a legacy, who have contributed a lot, who are inspiring and Mr Dabirul Choudhury is one of the highest respected individuals in our community.”
“He has a huge following within his family, friends and religious community.”
At the time of writing, he has raised just under £120,000 on his fundraising page and we’ve only just past the halfway point.
What a shame this incredible act of decency hasn’t received the media attention it deserves. Can’t think why…
— Rachael Swindon (@Rachael_Swindon) May 5, 2020
His story may not have received as much “air-time” as Tom Moore, for reasons one no longer needs to speculate over. It doesn’t quite have the perfect fit for the masses, the British establishment, and the media. Perhaps if words like “refugees” and “Ramadan” were replaced with “homeless” and “Christmas”, it would make the front pages.
Nevertheless, whilst the imbalances in the world and how the media portrays that world remain supreme, it does not take away from the good that comes from everyone helping others amidst this pandemic. Both Tom Moore and Dabirul Islam Choudhury are models for humanity, unison in their efforts for those who have suffered the most in recent months. InshāAllāh, their stories like many others this pandemic has uncovered offer a glimmer of hope of real change for the future when all this is over.