Homeless labor to a MBBS doctor
Sohag Howladar is the inspiration to the young generation of Bangladesh. Students and youth get motivation from his inspirational life story of becoming doctor from a child labor. Please watch a short video on his life journey and don't miss to read his full interview with Inspirational Beings team to know his hardships and a fight with destiny, the way he continued his studies despite all challenges, how he became doctor by achieving an international scholarship and his future plans.
Please tell us about your childhood and family background
My childhood was poverty-stricken. My daily routine was to work in fields with my father by day and go fishing at night. I never had the chance to go playing like other kids. Survival was our only goal. However, I still had the urge to study; I wanted to be something someday. So after working the whole day, I'd light a lantern and start studying. Even if my body wanted to rest, it took all my willpower to keep going. It seemed to me that studying is a luxury that I cannot afford.
When I was in class four, my mother died. She suddenly felt sick. A quack doctor treated her. We didn't have the money for her treatment. Back then, we did not understand how she died. Now, as I'm studying medicine, I came to know it was a case of stroke. Mother passed away but left behind a 22 days old daughter. My father already had four children. The eldest being me, then two sisters and a brother. It was hard enough for us to survive, but now raising her in these conditions seemed almost impossible. So we had to give her away to another family, under the conditions that we can never reveal our identities to her. Six months after my mother's death, my father married again. A wealthy relative of mine took one of my sisters away. They treated her like a maid. They didn't allow her to mingle with them and kept her in the kitchen. After passing class 4, everybody decided that I should quit school and move to Narayanganj to work in a workshop to support my family. I had to work from 8 in the morning to as long as 2 am in the middle of the night. When I saw children of my age going to school, I could not hold back my tears.
After six months, I returned home. The day before going back to the workshop, one of my friends took me back to school and told me to continue my studies. Seeing my school friends, I didn't want to leave school again. I collected some books from my teachers and started school. When my family got the news, my father and stepmother told me to go back to the workshop. They didn't let me stay in the house. I moved to one of my neighbor’s house, under the conditions that I had to teach their children, and I'll bear my educational expenses. On Fridays, I worked as a day laborer in the fields. My wages were 20 takas, whether the elders got 50. At night I would go fishing. As I rowed the boat all night, my companion would catch the fishes. This is how I continued my studies against all the odds.
Tough experiences and hurdles while struggling to continue the education?
I appeared at the class 5 finals despite a six months gap. To buy the scholarship exam guide, I asked for money from a man in my lodging house. I still remember his smile of mockery. A laborer of the fields dreams of studying. I got mad with rage; I started studying with everything I had. Later, I bought the "Panjeri" guide from one of my seniors for 50 takas. I couldn't afford rough copies. Had to use the old ones. Even I had to write on previous writings to save space. After so many hardships, when I got the scholarship in talent pool quota, my teachers noticed my presence for the very first time. This scholarship exam was one of the turning points of my career. After that, I continued my studies by doing tuitions.
The other tough experience when I got the scholarship in general grade in class 8. After achieving a GPA of 4.88 in SSC and GPA 5 in HSC, I came to Dhaka. I could not afford to pay my admission coaching fees. Later on, I had to sell my room's fan to gather the money. I can't describe how I managed to study in that summertime without a fan.
I was a resident teacher in different houses and used to teach their children. In one of the houses, the owner used to give me very limited food, once at lunchtime, she was not there in the house and I ate with her kids. But after returning, she called me a thief as I ate without her permission and she put the blame of stealing food in front of other people. While my stay there, she treated me as a domestic help than the tutor
After completing my HSC(Higher Secondary Certificate) with good grades and merit, I came to Dhaka for taking admission in medical from the village. I had no money to buy medical form, and I had to put posters on the walls whole day in exchange of $2 for buying college admission form.
How do you feel after becoming a successful doctor after fighting adversity battle?
I feel accomplished now, and those people who once mocked me see me as a person of great importance. They consult me on any village problems. I try my best to attend the patients in my village at DMCH. Helping them soothes my mind. When I was in my 3rd year, the owner of my workshop came to DMCH, and I helped him in seeing a doctor. I pray that the chance that my Lord has provided me to help people is utilized to the utmost by me. I've never had the economic conditions in my favor, but that didn't stop me from believing in my capabilities.
What is your Mantra in life?
My motto is a quote of the Indian writer Chetan Bhagat- “When you fly high, people will throw stones at you, don't look down, Just fly higher as the stones won't reach you.”
What is your message to our viewers?
I have three messages (1) I believe that to be a king of hell is better than to be slave of haven (2) Repetition is the Secret of success (3) For good job/work Money is not a factor, factors are your belief, your confidence, your hard work and your obedience,
What is your plan?
Now I am an MBBS doctor and Have completed 39th Bangladesh civil service cadre in health; I want to be a neurosurgeon. I want to start a hospital where quality service will be provided at an affordable cost to all low strata class.