This is a guest post from Zaki Hasan, country director for Room to Read Bangladesh.
The ability to unite an entire country in joy or sorrow is a difficult responsibility to live with. Mushfiqur Rahim (Mushfiq) feels the burden of this responsibility everyday as captain of the Bangladesh national cricket team. He is the heart of an entire nation, and the captain knows how much his views and actions matter to his fellow countrymen.
Last week, the power of his presence was indisputable, with hundreds of children and adults holding their breath in silence as the captain addressed the crowd at Rupa Government Primary School in Brahmanbaria.
Mushfiq, in the midst of a hectic schedule, travelled four hours to this remote community to encourage children’s reading habits. Mushfiq started his speech with the story of his own long and tiring drive to the school, saying that his fatigue instantly disappeared when he saw such a lovely event. Both academics and sport, he said, play crucial roles in children's development.
Mushfiq highly appreciated the day’s activities, which linked the children’s excitement at playing outdoors with reading-based games. He then took active part in a reading game with children called 'Read & Run'.
After inaugurating a bookshelf in one the school’s libraries, he read a rhyme from one of our original local-language books. The excitement continued as Mushfiq gifted a cricket bat to the school and then batted and bowled with the students.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was when the school’s six “Book Captains” from grades 3-5 lined up beside the national hero. As the designation for students chosen to help manage library resources the title of “Book Captain” carries with it great responsibility and excitement.
We would have never imagined that the primary school Book Captains at Rupa Government Primary school would receive their Captain Caps from the captain of the national cricket team himself! Even the secondary school children were impressed. "I wish I could go back to primary school and become a book captain," commented one.
After the event, Captain Mushfiq headed for Dhaka to prepare for the Asia Cup cricket tournament. Whether he will ever return to this remote school in Brahmanbaria is an open question, but the impact that his visit has made on the minds of the hundreds of students and community members who were present that day is unquestionable.
Learn more about Room to Read's work in Bangladesh.