International Children's Peace Prize 2020 winner Sadat Rahman credited Joy Bangla Youth Award (JBYA) for setting the stepping stones leading him from a boy addressing social issues in a remote area to the countrywide recognition and networking that eventually catapulted him to this global exposure.
He recounted his journey in the pretext of the fourth edition of Joy Bangla Youth Award set for Tuesday (8pm).
Prime Minister's ICT Adviser and CRI Chairperson Sajeeb Wazed Joy will announce the Joy Bangla Youth Award-2020 winners through a virtual award-conferring ceremony.
"I set out on my mission to address social issues such as child marriage in Narail and carry out humanitarian activities such as creating blood donors' database. You know the level of impact I could create as a teenager," he told UNB.
He said there were some challenges and limitations that came across his way.
"Later, the suicide of a teenage girl due to cyberbullying moved me to my core, and I started working to ensure no one takes her life because of someone else's crime," he said.
"Though law enforcers and local administration left no stone unturned to help me out, I still had limited capacity to work out my vision. When the JBYA was conferred upon me, I was endowed with limitless access to everything," Sadat recalled.
He said he did not imagine that he would meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Gonobhaban and she would greet them nicely.
"It was one of the best days of my life. As I shared the idea of the app to stop cyberbullying with Sajeeb Wazed Joy sir, he instantly showered praises on me, saying that youths must work hand in hand with the government to solve social problems," Sadat added.
"What I was deprived of before getting this award in 2018 was networking. But, this platform helped me unbelievably in this aspect. Owing to the networking with other awardees across the country, advice, and recommendations from them (since I was among the youngest ones), and direct interactions with policymakers worked as a springboard towards this global recognition," he said.
Talking about the award-conferring ceremony set to be held today, he said, "This award is not the end goal. Rather, this event is the beginning of carrying forward the dream they have poised themselves to realize, of enhancing the services they are already doing to their communities and working with a bigger impact."
Since its inception in November 2014, Joy Bangla Youth Award, named after the historical pro-liberation slogan 'Joy Bangla', Young Bangla, the youth front of CRI, has been awarding young people of organizations run by young people whose vision and initiatives catalyzed positive change in society.
Sadat discovered the power of coming together with other young people in 2017, when Rohingya people fleeing the atrocities in Myanmar sought refuge in Bangladesh.
Sadat and his friends organised a cycle rally for peace, and inspired by the experience, he set up his own organization: Narail Volunteers. The group has addressed a variety of children's rights issues.
A story about a 15-year-old girl who committed suicide after suffering from cyberbullying moved Sadat so much, that he created the anti-cyberbullying app 'Cyber Teens' to give helpless teenagers a place to go for help.
One of the major issues around cyberbullying is that young people are afraid to report it to the police or to inform their parents.
The app gives young people information about internet safety and gives them the possibility to report cyberbullying confidentially.
Cyber specialists, social workers and the police are brought together via his organisation.