All-Female Health Seminars for Minorities in Michigan

December 15, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

By Nargis Rahman, TMO

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The audience listens to the 2nd lecture in a series at the the women’s health seminar on breast and cervical cancer.     

Photo by Subha Hanif

Hamtramck, Michigan– Bangladeshi Americans for Social Empowerment, a non-profit group in Michigan, will host a health seminar in Hamtramck on osteoporosis in January for minority women.

Project Coordinator, Subha Hanif of Rochester Hills said, the seminars are a continuation of a project started in October for Bangladeshi women. Women from Hamtramck, Detroit, Warren and Sterling Heights in Michigan were invited.

Many of these women are uninsured or do not have a regular doctor, said Hanif, based on women who attended these seminars. The seminars are available to other minority women who may fall into the same categories. Hanif said, “It’s not helping in any way if people are not coming.”

Two seminars have been held in Hamtramck, at Jalalabad (above Aladdin Sweets & Café), which has the largest population of Bangladeshi Americans in Michigan, roughly three percent of the city’s total population.

Participant Razia Begum of Detroit said she liked the program. Everyone benefitted from the program by learning about free health care, she said.

Hanif, an undergraduate biology major at Oakland University, who is a Bangladeshi American said she understands the needs and limitations of women from this culture. Women are traditionally shy, “overshadowed” by men, and unlikely to ask important questions regarding their health.

The seminars are female-oriented, including the doctors, to form a comfortable no-men environment, said Hanif. “In a room where men are not allowed, women have embraced the freedom [to ask questions].”

Doctors from Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine spoke at the seminars, which ranged from taking care of your health, to learning how to detect breast and pelvic cancer. Hanif translated in Bangla.

Begum said she looks forward to the next program. “I want to go in January to learn about tooth pain and bone problems.”

Participants can talk one-on-one with doctors after the seminars; something which Hanif said is not always available at free clinics that have limited time slots for patients.

Hanif’s passion to help others comes from her Muslim faith, parental encouragement, interest in public health, and community service. My parents allowed American assimilation, while retaining the Bangladeshi culture, she said. “We were only allowed to speak Bangla at home, which has motivated me to help Bangladeshis.”

She hopes minority women – who are insured or uninsured – bring their mothers, daughters and neighbors to bond and learn together. “The goal is to make women better agents in taking care of their health and the family’s,” said Hanif.

BASE provides laptops, handouts and materials for the program. Hanif’s dad, Abu Hanif, is on the board of directors.

Flyers will be passed out to businesses in Hamtramck before January’s program.

For more information, contact Subha Hanif by phone at 248-707-9521 or email shanif@oakland.edu .

Pictures: Subha Hanif

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Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus Chairman Attends White House Reception for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nargis Hakim Rahman

Chairman of the Bangladeshi American Democratic Caucus, Nazmul Hassan Shahin, was invited to the White House for a reception to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage on June 22.
The social event was held for networking opportunities for 200 U.S. political representatives in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Hassan said President Obama greeted the crowd with a speech and shook hands with those in the front row and with others who were close enough to reach him. 

Hassan took the 10-15 seconds he had with the president to thank him for his work (the healthcare, Wallstreet and housing reforms). He said, “Change is not easy Mr. President. You are doing a fantastic job. Under your leadership America got back its respect in [the] outside world,” he said partly referring to an ongoing relationship with Bangladesh with the appointment of a new ambassador to Bangladesh, Dan Mozena, in May.

He also handed Obama a thank-you letter on behalf of the BADC and an organizational newsletter, which the president accepted and said, “Keep doing the great work.”

It was a great once-in-a lifetime experience, said Hassan, from visiting the White House to shaking hands with the president. It was a, “Great honor as a Bangladeshi American to represent everyone [in] BADC,” he said.

BADC is an affiliate of the Michigan Democratic Caucus with 71 members in a “four-tier” organization. The executive council is comprised of members from the three entities: a task force committee; a congressional district committee with members who work closely with congress members and elected officials in those districts on issues relating to Bangladeshi Americans; and a standing committee with various branches including women, fundraising and student groups. An advisory council works with the organization.

Hassan describes the grass root organization as, “The voice of Bangladeshi Americans in mainstream politics working on issues important in our community.” The organization worked with democratic leaders in the past local state and presidential elections, fundraising and helping political candidates interact with the Bangladeshi Americans (a growing population in Michigan), such as Congressman Hansen Clarke.

States such as California, Delaware, Minnesota, and Texas, with Bangladeshi American populations are interested in replicating the organization, said Hassan. The organization may create a national board to work with all states.

Hassan has been working with BADC since 2009. He received the Martin Luther King Jr. Award at the Annual Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in April 16, 2011 by the Michigan Democratic Caucus for “an individual who works promoting the equality and inclusion of the people for every race, color, creed and gender in the Democratic Party,” said the website www.michbd.com, which reports on Bangladeshi news in Michigan.

BADC leaders and supporters motivate and energize me to do my job, said Hassan. “The Martin Luther King Jr. Award by the Michigan Democratic Party is a symbol of acknowledgement of our hard work.”

Hassan said he hopes more youth will get politically involved and help bring about a change in government by building the organization and leadership to, “Carry out the momentum and take it farther than we have created.”

Upon request of Hassan, Congressman John Conyers Jr. offered internships to youth during a Muslim Ummah of North America north zone conference on June 5. Hassan encourages people to apply. He said Bangladeshi American youth have potential to rise up and become political leaders. The possibilities and opportunities are endless.

Elections for BADC will be held in November.

For more information visit www.mibadc.org, or to get involved contact Executive Vice Chair Ripa Haq at 248-520-1921.

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