Bangladesh Freedom Foundation

Bangladesh Freedom Foundation an independent national aid-giving foundation providing financial help to the institutions of social interest of Bangladesh. The organisation came into existence consequent upon the negotiation of some illustrious personalities of Bangladesh with Ford Foundation of the United States in the late nineties. Ford Foundation before winding up its activities in Bangladesh expressed their eagerness to provide financial and technical help in establishing a philanthropic foundation in Bangladesh and requested the then editor of the Daily Star, Mahfuz Anam, to complete the process of founding this organisation as the chairperson of the Advisory Board. Under this process, Bangladesh Freedom Foundation started its journey in September 1997 when a Trustee Board with Mahfuz Anam as chairman and Professor Rehman Sobhan as treasurer was formed. The other members of the Trustee Board were Syed Manzoor Elahi, Dr. Debapriya Bhattacharya, Dr. Muhammad Younus, Dr. Nayla Khan, Sultana Kamal, Kazi Fazlur Rahman, Dr. Wahid Uddin Mahmud and Dr. Meghna Guhathakurta. At present, the Trustee Board is comprised of 11 members. They are Syed Manzoor Elahi (chairperson), Mahfuz Anam, Debapriya Bhattacharya, Sultana Kamal, Rokeya Afzal Rahman, Parwin Hasan, Dr. Pratima Pal Mazumdar, Samson H Chowdhury, Angela Gomes, Professor Zafar Iqbal and Iftekhruzzaman. Besides, Professor Muhammad Younus works as emeritus trustee of the organisation. The Trustee Board approves, monitors and evaluates the activities of the Foundation and gives the Foundation necessary directons in accordance with its declared aims and objects. Moreover the Board is always active in the development of the Foundation and enhancement of its financial ability. The Executive Director runs the Foundation as per directives of the Board. At present Shafi Rahman Khan is the Executive Director of the Board.

The Foundation is primarily run by the profit of endowment given by the Ford Foundation. The Foundation is registered under Trust Laws in 1997 and also with the Bureau of NGOs of the Government of Bangladesh in 1998.

At present, by evaluating its activities during the last ten years, the Foundation is considering with importance that it should spend money in popularising science education in secondary level. Its objectives include the establishment of science club in secondary schools level for popularising science education. The members of the club in a school will elect an executive committee consisting of 9-11 members. These science clubs will take different kinds of science projects and will make arrangement for school-based science fairs and inter-school science fairs throughout the year. The teachers and the guardians are also involved in the science club. By this time, the foundation has published a science book titled Eso Bijnan Shikhi for the students of secondary level. With the support of this book, they can easily conduct most of the experiments laid down in their science text book.

The Foundation began financing to different projects from May 1999. In the beginning its main objective was the basic liberty such as freedom from poverty, ignorance and oppression. To achieve such objectives, aids were given in five major categories such as a) Rights of women and children, b) Helping the handicapped by enhancing their ability, c) Community health service for the neglected, d) Exceptional education, information and culture, and e) Initiative for social participation. The sense of philanthropy was mostly given priority in giving aids in those fields. The foundation believes that philanthropy can play a great role to enhance people's participation in the running projects and to maintain their stability.

The Foundation gives aid on a small scale in the local level irrespective of race, religion and caste. But it does not give aid to such sector or field which aspires to fulfill political aims and create religious, cultural or racial discrimination, and foster any sort of disparity. The Foundation provides financial assistance to many social organisations throughout the country.

The Freedom Foundation organises local and national workshops, seminars and advocacy meetings. Besides, the Foundation conducts research and study on subjects relevant to its activities. In the meantime, the finished project 'Forum on Women in Security and International Affairs' (FAOSIA) has published twenty two books on woman's positions. Besides, the Foundation has published a book on practices of philanthropy in Bangladesh. A quarterly newsletter titled Philanthropy is regularly published from the Foundation. [Mazharul Islam]