When the Covid-19 Pandemic hit, Mukshadur moved back to his hometown in Bangladesh to stay with his family while continuing to attend his college classes remotely. Upon his return, he realized that young children in his community were deprived of the ability to continue their education remotely because of lack of access to the internet. He worried that because they’ve been isolated due to quarantine restrictions, the children would not only struggle academically, but that their mental health would also suffer. And while Mukshadur understood the importance of physical distancing, he felt it was unfair that he gets to continue taking his classes and interacting with his friends online, while these young students had both their education and playtime disrupted.

Mukshadur wanted to come up with an idea that would allow these children to be productive during quarantine. He realized that there was a fair amount of barren land in his area that he could safely gather these young students while maintaining social distancing. He developed a project that would teach and support children in creating their own, household or community gardens on this unused land. This experience would not only provide young people an opportunity to work together safely, but also provide the community with fresh fruits and vegetables and the children with an opportunity to learn about proper agricultural practices, skills they may use in the future.

Mukshadur used his Peace First grant to get high quality seeds, fertilizer, fencing and other gardening tools and materials. With five volunteers, Mukshadur’s community garden project was able to engage with 50 young people broken into teams of five, with ten advisors or guardians helping each team. And while some challenges came up, like bad weather and resistance from some parents, the community rallied around this project, with many local leaders and teachers providing support. They were also inspiring enough support to get additional donations and access to more resources, proving this project was a powerful tool in building community even while people are mostly isolated inside.