Transgressing Comfort Zones: Tale of a mother & an administrator
Not is everyone daunting enough to embrace the challenge of fulfilling the task of a homemaker and administering a district with same pace simultaneously. They say 'with great power comes greater responsibility'; while many are sipping every drop of power yet disavowing the responsibilities they are endowed with, there are very few who takes every bit of responsibilities into their account. Syeda Farhana Kawnine, a career bureaucrat, is one of the latter group. She has assumed the office of the Deputy Commissioner and learned District Magistrate (DC &DM) of Narsingdi in March 2018.
She started working on delineating the spirit of the Great Liberation War '71 through her brainchild 'Muktijuddho Corner'. With an eye to disseminating the spirit of our Great Liberation War in the minds of youngsters, within four-month after she took office, in July 2018, total 1168 educational institutes have established Muktijuddho Corner in their premises. Moreover, to develop the primary education system in Narsingdi, she aimed at twenty primary schools as pilot project, and improved the infrastructure, quality of education of the schools and established congenial and pleasant atmosphere for both teachers and students. She has focused on 40 more schools in this year following the previous success. In doing so, she did not wait for government instructions and fund to come rather her down-to-earth determination has lead her to bring forth this positive change. Consequently, she has been awarded with 'National Education Award 2018' for her out-of-the box thought and its aftermath.
Kawnine's insightfulness reflected on her another groundbreaking work on lessening unemployment problem in Narsingdi district: 'Karmasangsthan Narsingdi', an ongoing web based platform for collecting résumés from job seekers. More than 350 youths have been employed through this so far. For this unique effort she has been awarded with 'Public Administration Award 2019', the most prestigious award in civil administration.
Previously, while acting as the Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), back in 2011-2012, Kawnine bagged the accolade of the Best UNO across the country in 2013 for her success in implementing Ekti Bari Ekti Khamar (Amar Bari, Amar Khamar), a preferential initiative of Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Besides being a proficient administrator, Kawnine's aesthetic sense is mention worthy. When aesthetics is blended with innovation, a class is born; and Ms. Kawnine is an embodiment of that class. From file work to office atmosphere to any programme organized by District Administration an appreciable sense of aesthetics, diversity and innovation is always visible.
Kawnine often says, "History is a patriarchal discourse that tends not to acknowledge the contribution of women to the history of civilization." That is why a counter-discourse, theoretically known as her-story, is important to recuperate the role played by women over the years. For example, "Jutho-boddho: Songrame- Shantite-Srishtite", a sculpture constructed at Circuit House, symbolizes equal sacrifice and contribution of both women and men to our Liberation War. With a view to rejuvenating the lost history, the idea of "Juthoboddho" popped up in her mind and the reflection of the idea is that aesthetically and symbolically exquisite sculpture.
The tale of a working mother is entwined with pain, pleasure, problem and prospect at the same time. It needs utmost dedication and sacrifice to shine in both sides. One person having multiple identities like public servant, mother, spouse and homemaker faces awkward challenges from each side and needs to discharge herculean tasks to maintain equilibrium among those identities. No way can you deprive any stakeholders, be it family members or colleagues. Likewise, Kawnine needs to meet the great expectations of her family and workplace. She is unique in the sense that she cares about the people around her, whether they are the family members, friends, colleagues or service recipients. Since she loves dealing with the challenges, she has outsmarted the hurdles that come along her way.
In family life, she and her better half, Md Sayedur Rahman, an Additional DIG of Bangladesh Police, are blessed with two sons. Her elder son Rahman Ershad Kayani is pursuing his BBA in Bangladesh University of Professionals (BUP) and her younger son Abdul Azim Kayani is in standard 4 of Chittagong Grammar School, Dhaka. Her responsibility of being a spouse and mother has not been over shadowed by her abundant workloads. She believes that charity begins at home and family is the best school. In this philosophy, she is highly influenced by her beloved father Syed Serajul Islam, who was a prominent lawyer and a Member of Parliament from Brahmanbaria constituency. He has instilled this moral and ethical philosophy into her mind when she was an adorable child. Her strict adherence to family rules and ethics help nourish her children with ethical and moral values.
Kawnine believes in integrity and demonstration of positive energy. She dreams of a country where quality education will be free for all and devoid of any kinds of discrimination. During the last one and a half years, she has won the hearts of the people from every walk of life in Narsingdi by dint of her true leadership and pro-people attitude. In the eyes of the students and teachers, poor and rich, politicians and civil society, above all people from every walk of life in Narsingdi, she is perceived as a role model because the standard she has set. "What is your dream?"- in reply to this question she vehemently said, "I would like to keep my footprint in the world and make it a better place for the next generation." That is the spirit of a model administrator of the nation who is working silently without making any noise. Hopefully Bangladesh will be a developed country in 2041 at the cost of the dream materialized by persons like Kawnine. "Hope is a good thing, probably the best among the good things." Let us be hopeful!