Monday, September 28, 2009

Reflections of a KIS parent

Sabiha Mahmud Sumi is the daughter of Sohel Mahmud Sagar of Dhaka in Bangladesh. Sumi, now in grade 12, will graduate with the class of 2010 in May. She has just completed a research paper on microfinance in Bangladesh which is the accumulation of her holiday work during the last three end-of-semester vacations. She is also the author of her first book "Kaleidoscope: A Compilation" of the many articles she has written over the last 4 years, which have been published in various newspapers and journals in Bangladesh and have made her well known in this city.

Bangladesh is a pioneer country in microfinance. Sumi has worked with her father, Executive Vice President of ASA, one of the largest and most efficient microfinance institutions in the world, documenting the successes of this movement which aims to provide financial services to the poor people of Bangladesh.

Always inspired and encouraged by her father, Sumi was asked by him to write articles on people she encountered during her holidays and subjects that interested her, particularly the workings of ASA and its effect on the common people, her life at KIS and what she saw around her. Her father had once been impressed by the story of Fazle Lohani, a legendary figure in Bangladesh, who in a TV series had mentioned free lance writing as one of the ways in which he had financed his student days after stubbornly rejecting help from his wealthy family. Sagar himself relates how, when he was a student studying for his Chartered Accountants Article studentship, he had a dream in which he was blessed with a daughter. Knowing the way women are treated in Bangladesh and the difficulties they face to gain an education, he began to economize on his student allowance, preparing for the day when he too may have to educate and be responsible for a girl child in a country where women are definitely considered as second rate citizens. This day came on 27 November 1991 when Sumi was born and Sagar had already managed to save quite a bit of money after years of putting small amounts aside, taking overdrafts from the bank and buying seasonal crops from the farmers to sell later at a small profit. He began his search for an outstanding school located in India when Sumi was in grade 2 in Dhanmondi Tutorial, Dhaka. He knew what he wanted; one that would make her a global citizen giving her experience in multiculturalism but also with a strong accent on service for Sagar’s dream for his daughter is not only that she acquires knowledge, but that she uses it to uplift those who are unable to do so themselves, a philanthropic attitude to life.

Sumi was admitted into grade 4 in KIS in July 2001. It was love at first sight for Sumi, who after her initial visit to the Elementary campus and celebrating her birthday with the then Admissions Coordinator, Sara Ann Lockwood who had ordered a cake specially for the occasion, the family decided not to go to visit the other 2 schools which Sagar had so painstakingly short listed after his research in the Indian Cultural Center in Dhaka.

Sumi’s path in KIS has been long and not always straight. She has learnt by her mistakes and grown from her experiences. The staffs of KIS, who have known her since she was small, have seen a young woman of strength and determination grows out of the little girl who was delivered into their hands back in 2001. They are confident that she will leave this mountain with the skills, judgment and experiences that have given her a maturity beyond her years and that she will need to achieve her father’s dream and to realize her own.

Good luck Sumi - may your future be happy and may your work be recognized in the advancement of the poor people of Bangladesh. We are sure we will be hearing lots about you and the great work you will be doing in this area.