Price tag of a dream

Photo: Amiruzzaman/ActionAid

I have accepted my present situation and know that I can’t be anybody important, or big. I have no dream to be somebody.

– these are the words of a person who is the witness, victims and carrier of the scar Rana Plaza disaster made.

Shahjahan Selim does not have a dream. So easy to put that in a tiny sentence.

Selim does not have the life he had before Rana Plaza. He is not physically fit like before. His left leg and left hand is paralysed. Was this supposed to happen?

Selim got minor injuries but his life was spared. However, he couldn’t evade the numerous souls trapped under concrete and rubble. Selim rushed to save 37 people alive. However, he then fell into a crack and got severely injured. His waist and left leg were broken.

After that, he spent three and half months in hospital for treatment. He has got humanitarian help from different organisation including ActionAid Bangladesh. His health was fairly healed by the treatment but a lot has changed during the period. Selim has lost half of his body. He cannot stand up straight. He must use crutches at all times. Physiotherapy for him continues even after 3 years of the incident.

Thanks to the the financial support Selim got from various organisations including ActionAid, Selim has opened up a grocery shop. He runs the shop all by himself. He says,

I cannot be like before. My health condition does not permit me to go back to garments factory for work. Actually I don’t want to be back in garments work.

I felt a bit relieved to find that he can move about – sometimes to go to the barber’s, or to the market buying goods at wholesale rate for his shop. However, it still is painful for him. And he faces trouble to travel by rickshaw but people around him come forward to help him.

Now, I don’t feel afraid of my life. I have accepted the fact that I cannot be the same again. However, I have one wish that I want to see my son grow up in such a way that he could take part in the humanitarian and social services. This is the only dream I have. People who move to Dhaka and start low-paying jobs like in the garments factories, they are not dreaming to buy apartments or fancy cars. All they dream of is 3 proper meals a day. Please don’t let anyone look down upon the survivors of Rana Plaza. Don’t avoid them.

Today marks the third year of that horrific accident. At least 1,134 people, mostly female, were killed and over 2,500 people injured as the building caved in.

This year also, we conducted a survey reaching out to 1800 respondents which include 1300 survivors and 500 kin of the deceased. The REPORT shows, 58.4 percent of survivors of Rana Plaza incident are still traumatised and 48 percent of them remain unemployed due to physical and mental grounds. The physical condition of 78.8 percent injured workers is improving. On the other hand, 51.8 percent of survivors are employed and only 21.4 percent of them got back to garments work with 78.6 percent working in other sectors.

I have a question I must ask. How can we brand the wish to meet fundamental needs as a dream? And what happens when this bare minimum is not met, and the profit-hungry system also takes this dream away from people in a society where resources are either inaccessible, unfairly distributed, or outright squandered?

What is the price of destroying someone’s dream? What right do we have to destroy someone’s dream? Can we put a price tag on it?