Life begins at 50 again


December 7th, 2015

The line “life begins at 50 again” has been replaying in my head for the last couple of days.  It’s just trapped there. I don’t know why. Maybe because I am also at 50 now. It could be because the words gave me a sense of security opposing the negative social imposition that there is not much time left in your life. It’s very common when you meet people of your age, if you are more than 40, many of them remember that you are getting older, in a panicky way. Whatever the case, I liked the line and picked it up in my head from one of our guests, Mr. Eamoinn Taylor, CEO of EEP/Shiree, who was invited in the opening day of the Photography Exhibition organized as to celebrate 50 years of Practical Action.

50th anniversary photo exhibition BangladeshThe 3-day long Photo Exhibition has just finished and was the biggest event we have ever had.  A cross section of people visited the exhibition from 1-3 December 2015. On the opening day, we had high ranking people from government agencies and donors, many development activists, journalists, students,  and renowned photographers visiting the exhibition.

For many of them, the technologies we showcased were astonishing. They expressed their “ignorance” of these simple technological solutions for big problems like “sandbar cropping,” “bio gas to electricity to irrigation pump,” “modern cow-shed,” etc. Almost everyone was asked for the booklet that we published comprising all photographs in it. It was a matter of great joy for me that I have been actively engaged with the entire process of the event and the publication, with a team.

During the closing day of the event, a question suddenly popped up in my mind – what have we gained from this event? It didn’t take too much time to get the answer. In the closing session, which I was facilitating, one of the government bureaucrats, Md. Nurullah, Additional Chief Engineer of Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) of Bangladesh, said:

“Now I can see how your work is rooted deeply in the development of Bangladesh. As an engineer I have seen lots of simple technologies that we can take forward together.”

At the same time I could remember many other comments from the visitors that are really inspiring. Mr. Md. Akram-AL-Hossain, Joint Secretary of Local Govt. Division, said on the opening day;

“I know about Practical Action from 2012. From the beginning, one thing I noticed that you are truly passionate about your work, which I think, lead your organization to go and grow further.”

50th anniversary photo exhibition BangladeshAnother guest Mr. Hamidur Rahman, the Director General of Department of Agricultural Extension, said;

“You have brought together the entire Bangladesh in this exhibition through your work. I do appreciate your move, and found many areas where we can work together.”

It’s a pleasing coincidence that the year I have reached at 50 is the same for the organization I am working with. Many of my colleagues were greeting me as well during the photo exhibition was going on. The closing day of the exhibition ended up with a dinner party at our office premises. Our entire ex-colleagues were invited there, and many attended. Two of the first generation colleagues Mohamed Taher (Country Director, 1992-97) and Mohammad Aslam (Programme Head, 93-97) were also with us. They greet us; they wished us; they praised us for bringing the organization to the level where we are now. It turned into a joyful event of existing and former colleagues.

The idea of arranging the photo exhibition on the eve of celebrating 50 years came from Hasin Jahan, our country director. With her comprehensive and practical direction, together we made it successful. A small team was passionately involved to make this happen.

When I was going back to home from the party, one of my former colleagues, Anisur Rahman, now working with OXFAM, dropped me at home. In his car, we were four altogether: Abdur Rob and Nazmul Islam Chowdhury of Practical Action Bangladesh, and Abdullah Al Mamun, now with UNDP.  We took a trip down to memory lane talking of the early days of working with Practical Action. The roads were traffic-free as it was almost midnight in Dhaka city.

At home, another party was about to finish; it was one of my niece’s birthday. I rang the doorbell and my little angel, who is now three, opened the door with a divine smile.  Then I realized again that life really does start at 50.

3 responses to “Life begins at 50 again”

  1. Hasin Says:

    Excellent piece of work! Happy birthday to you 🙂

  2. Margaret Gardner Says:

    Great blog Merhab – and I would never have guessed you are 50!

  3. L. M. Sirajus Salekin Says:

    While I was reading your blog post it gave me a feeling that I can see every precious moments which cherished our celebration. Really loved the way you wrote it, your emotion in it, and also inspired me a lot to do more for Practical Action, Bangladesh. I wish if I be able to read your thought when you are at 100!

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