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Meena Media Award 2012: Honouring compelling work on children

© UNICEF/2012/Mawa
Winners of the Meena Media Award 2012 pose for a group photo with the chief guest Honorable Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu, UNICEF child rights advocated Jewel Aich, judges and organizers of the awards ceremony
By Raffat Binte Rashid

November 20, 2012: A little girl who lives on the street with her mother, pleaded for a new red frock for Eid. It was a desire she nurtured ever since she laid her eyes on a well-off, pretty girl of her age named Nuha coming out of the market wearing a red frock. It was impossible for the mother to fulfil the poor girl’s desire. Fortunately, Nuha’s brother observed the scene from afar. His heart melted because what was so easy for his sister, is actually impossible for so many others of her age. He decided to buy her the frock but first he had to earn the money, so he made a deal with his mother that if he practised maths every day and completed one practice copy daily, she would reward him with Tk.15. When enough was saved, he bought the red frock for the poor girl.

This heart-warming tale titled The Red Dress brought Zubair Bin Shafi the first prize in the Meena Media Awards 2012 in the category of Print Media- Creative under 18. “I live in Bogra, I have an exam tomorrow but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to come to this inspiring award giving ceremony. I didn’t know I would win, and that too the first prize. It means the world to me,” says an ecstatic Zubair, proudly holding his award and certificate.

Celebrating childhood

Meena Media Awards is about reporting and presenting the issues in the print and electronic media that plague the children in our society. The 8th Meena Media Award was announced on 18 November 2012 at a local hotel. UNICEF conferred the Meena Media Award 2012 on 32 professionals from print and broadcast media for their outstanding works in promoting child rights during the last one year.

Amid the loud beats of traditional drums and lively children the awards ceremony was very entertaining and colourful, more so because iconic animation characters Meena, Raju and Mithu were ushering the guests. When Meena was announcing the nominees Mithu was only too eager to help by mimicking her words; their lovely antics added to the show.

Meanwhile, children in their shiny, colourful best sang songs and danced enthusiastically at regular intervals. It was hard to believe that these kids are all inhabitants of drop-in-centres. They are mostly orphans or from ultra-poor families; at the centres they get a chance at education, proper nutrition and healthcare.

“The awards celebrate excellence in creative media and journalism to promote child rights in Bangladesh, because through their work they have raised the voices of voiceless children which is the main spirit of the Meena Media Award -- advancing child rights in media,” says Pascal Villeneuve, UNICEF representative during the ceremony.

© UNICEF/2012/Mawa
Sohel Rana Shabujh bagged two awards in journalistic and creative categories in under-18 age group.
Broadly divided into ‘creative’ and ‘journalistic’ categories, entries have been sought from print and electronic media in two age categories – under-18 and above-18.

While addressing the audiences, Information Minister Hasanul Haque Inu, chief guest of the programme, said the children are the future nation makers and they will lead the country forward by upholding the spirit of patriotism.

 “I am delighted to be a part of this selection process which was very transparent, I believe taking part in the competition is more important than winning,” said noted author Selina Hossain, while appreciating the colourful cultural performance by the underprivileged children whoo took part in the cultural event of the programme.  

Renowned magician Jewel Aich, who is also the Child Rights Advocate for UNICEF, was also present among other dignitaries. While sharing his experiences on work in Chittagong he said “Child Rights in Bangladesh is still in such an appalling state that we have miles to go,”

“Headphone” a reason to be a broadcast journalist

Fayej, a middle class boy from Barisal who got the 1st prize in the category of Broadcast Media, Television Creative Under-18, is naturally over the moon. A first-year student of Amrita Lal College in Barisal, he thinks his involvement with youth organizations have helped him immensely to get the kind of exposure he needed.

His entry is about a young boy who was crossing the road with headphones stuck to his ears and music blaring at full volume. He could not hear the car honking behind him and was not able to save himself from death as the car sped away. While he lay lifeless on the road, the headphones were still stuck to his ears and his favourite song from the playlist playing in full volume.

“This incident is taken from an actual account where the boy was walking on the rail track and was killed by a train; since there are no trains in Barisal, I enacted the scene with cars. I was trained in Barisal by UNICEF-supported One-minute junior video programme,” he said.

Aspiring to be a television reporter

“I got awards last year too and this year in the under-18 category I got the 3rd prize in the creative category and the 1st prize in reporting. I am quite happy” said Sohel.

On the threshold of adulthood Sohel, who turned 19 in October, looks forward to getting the award in the above-18 categories in the future. “The above-18 category is very competitive but I will try my best to go as close to my dream as possible,” he says proudly while juggling with the two crests.

From drug users to mobile service operators

Nuru and his gang of three street children are almost like the famous Musketeers one reads in the books. They are orphans and live wayward lives and wherever the night falls they sleep under the open sky. Their usual haunt is the footpath near the WASA building in Karwan Bazar. They sell towels, flowers, popcorns and newspapers. Their daily income is Tk120 out of which they spend Tk 40 on food and the rest goes into buying a substance called Dandy made from shoe glue, which they were addicted to.

Shahnaz Sharmeen, a senior reporter of ABC radio decided to pick their story up for her radio show. “I went to eight spots, starting from Town Hall in Mohammapur to Chankhar Pool in Old Dhaka. I reported on their addiction and how cruel life is at their end. I dedicate this award to these kids,” she said, smiling proudly at the boys who were only too eager to accompany her to the awards ceremony.

“It was difficult to make the hotel security believe that these street kids were indeed invited guests. They are now all going to the drop-in centre in Karwan Bazar and learning mobile servicing trade,” she said.

Other winners

Mirza Shakil, Tangail correspondent of The Daily Star, bagged the first prize for best reporting on child issues while Moniruzzaman Uzzal of Bangla daily Jugantor and Muktasree Chakma Sathi from New Age clinched second and third prizes respectively in the print media category.

Sanjid Ahmed of Bangla Vision held the first position in television reporting while Munni Shaha, of ATN News, captured first position in creative news and Shahnaz Sharmeen of ABC radio, won first prize in radio reporting.

“I love working for the Meenas in our society,” said journalist Munni Shaha while receiving her award.



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