01/05/2010, 00.00
BANGLADESH

For the first time, a Bangladeshi is knighted by Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain

by William Gomes
Fazle Hasan Abel, founder of one of the biggest NGOs in the world, was recently honoured for his work, which includes helping 110 million in Bangladesh.
Dhaka (AsiaNews) – For the first time in history, Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain will appoint a Bangladeshi to the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George. The new knight is called Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), the world largest non-governmental organisation in the world. He is being honoured for the services he and his organisation have rendered in the fight against poverty in Bangladesh and other countries in Asia and Africa.

"I am honoured and humbled to receive this award and this is not only a award to me but to Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee workers around the world and to my nation," Mr Abed said.

In 1980, he was also the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award, one of the most important prizes in Asia.

Fazle Hasan Abed was born in 1936 into a land-owning family in Baniachong, Bangladesh. In the late 1950s, he left home to attend University of Glasgow to study Naval Architecture. Later he joined the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants in London, completing his professional education in 1962. He went back to Bangladesh towards the end of the 1960s where he joined the Shell Oil Company, quickly rising to head its finance division.

The devastating cyclone of 1970 that hit the coastal regions of Bangladesh, killing 300,000 people, had a profound effect on Abed and led him to create BRAC a year later.

Today, his organisation operates in more than 69,000 villages in Bangladesh and covers an estimated 110 million people through its development programmes, which range from primary education, essential healthcare, agricultural support and human rights to legal services, microfinance and enterprise development.

"I want to go forward with our work to fight poverty in countries Afghanistan, Uganda, Tanzania, Southern Sudan, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Sri Lanka," he said. "I do believe that one day poverty will be history."

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