Efforts in Youth Development of Bangladesh founder Jahin Rahman is Diana Award’s latest awardee

Jahin Rahman moved to America from Bangladesh when they were all of eight years old and had many hurdles to overcome. Today, just a hair out of high school, they run an international nonprofit to benefit women and children through Efforts in Youth Development of Bangladesh (EYDB), an organization with 300 volunteers from eight countries.

We earlier covered Rahman here along with another talented young person, Ashfah Alam, both extremely high achievers with golden hearts. They were then in school.

Adding another feather in their cap, Rahman, now a college student, has recently been awarded the International Diana Award, created in the memory of the late Princess Diana and her legacy. 

We caught up with Rahman to get inside their head, and find out more about their work.

You seem to have had a longstanding drive to do good in the world, including in Bangladesh, the country you left as a child. Could you tell me more about how it felt leaving Bangladesh for America, and The specific experience that drove you to your path?

I grew up in Bangladesh; often things in-front of me were unjustifiable. My best-friend in Bangladesh was a girl named Zareen. She was forcefully married at the age of 12. In third grade, my friends and I were attacked by a group of 25 men during a violent political protest. As we ran, the men followed and threw stones at us. That day, I saw injured people on the street, blood…and I saw street-children who were wounded and crying; they were attacked constantly by mobs. These events molded my perception that lives around me were in danger. Fulfilled with wisdom, I founded an organization named Efforts in Youth Development of Bangladesh (EYDB) with a motive to get at-risk and street-children off the streets through opportunities of free permanent education and development. 

Running such large projects alongside your schoolwork, did it ever get stressful? How did you manage the two? 

Of course, at times it was very difficult to manage school and run a non-profit. I always made sure to prioritize both my school work and service work as my top priorities, which meant giving up time hanging with friends or watching T.V sometimes. It is very important to have a schedule of to-dos while doing this type of work. In college, I will be dividing up my schoolwork and non-profit work by making sure that I do my class work on weekdays and reserve the weekends for EYDB work.

Usually social work involves confronting a lot of difficult realities and I’m sure you have had your own share. How do you cope?

The message that I would like to give young people is that when you begin working on a project that is aimed at bringing about a change in your community, the most difficult part is getting started. So, don’t be too discouraged by any initial failure that comes in your path. For me, a key struggle has been the physical project installations of Efforts in Youth Development of Bangladesh being paused due to COVID-19. Because of this, we have had to shift our focus on online projects. In the initial stages, we had difficulty finding volunteers in person, so we had to shift our focus to online outreach. The key is always finding alternative solutions.

Why study economics and international relations in college? Why the subject? What do you have in mind for your future?

The economic development of developing countries is the area that I want to work towards in the future, hence the combination of economics and international relations is very important for me. In the future, I want to join the World Bank Young Professionals program to work on international education in South Asia. In the far future, I want to represent Bangladesh in an international diplomatic position or do research and implement innovative solutions for social and economic issues in developing countries. Simultaneously, I want to continue my work with Efforts in Youth Development of Bangladesh, education, gender equality, and social entrepreneurship in Bangladesh.

Of all the accolades you’ve received, which one is the dearest to you?

The Power of Children Award, which features a part of a youth activism exhibit on Efforts in Youth Development of Bangladesh at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.