The project started in late 1980s when an old student hostel (dormitory) for 70 boys in Comilla in eastern Bangladesh faced extreme difficulty during the regime of a military dictatorship. At their request Dastidars were able to help them. From 1990 till 2010 there were three attacks on the property damaging the adjacent Hindu Shiva and Kali temples, cremation area, the memorial garden and more. Pro-secular and pro-tolerant people of all persuasions came to help the dorm and its residents.
In early 1990s Dastidar family, their two young kids, and friends started raising money by selling tea at the annual fall Hindu Durga Puja festival in New York. Following the initial success they sold flowers, donated cooked Bengali/Indian/American foods and drink, plus hot tea, of course. Soon they started raising funds by holding luncheon in late April, coinciding with the celebration of Baisakh New Year. It quickly became a popular event in Metro New York area where Probini also honored individuals with Anath Bandhu (Friend of the Orphaned), Samaj Bandhu (Friend of the Community) and Chhatra Bandhu (Friend of the Student) Awards.
Probini (A) provides scholarships to students living in dorms paying their entire cost; (B) pays for teacher's salary; and (C) builds schools and dormitories (hostels) for the poor. Till 2013 they have built the following:
1. Nihar Kana Bhaktabash and Bidyaloi School at Mahilara, Barisal, Bangladesh (completed before incorporation of Probini);
2. Probini Boys' Dormitory at Pranab Ashram, Madaripur City, Bangladesh;
3. Probini Girls' Dormitory at Andharmanik Girls' (Public) High School, Bagerhat, Bangladesh;
5. Probini School Building at Pranab School, SriRamKathi, Pirojpur, Bangladesh;
6. Doihari Sahid Smriti (Martyr's Memorial) Girls' High School Probini Bhaban (Building), Swarupkathi, Bangladesh;
7. Probini Girls' Hostel at Tuthamandra Sarajubala Girls High School, Gopalganj, Bangladesh;
8. Probini Girls' Hostel at Nayan Sadhur (Nayan Monk's) Ashram, Durgapur, Netrokona, Bangladesh;
9. Probini Girls' Hostel at Kadambari Mahabidyaloi (School), Rajoir, Bangladesh;
10. Probini Building at Tuichawng Ultimate Truth Preaching Mission School, Mizoram, India;
11. Probini Hostel (Boys Dormitory), Pranab Ashram, Madaripur;
12. Probini Hostel, Twichawng, Mizoram, India
13. Probini Building at Karasole Shishu Bikash Mandir (Karasole Children's School), Paschim Medinipur, PaschimBanga (West Bengal), India (Under construction)
However as intolerant religious and left extremism have been rising in many of the areas of these institutions. The schools have come under attack as they provide secular and tolerant education. For example, one Hindu-run orphanage has been attacked at least three times in the recent past. While in an area where Probini has built its first school, the headmaster, the teachers and families were driven out before a national election. In a separate case one orphanage was able to shelter girls, as young as 8 years, who were gang raped during a pogrom. On the other hand political extremism has posed problem in another jurisdiction. Nevertheless, Probini has been able to help groups open new schools and dormitories, provide scholarships to the orphaned and poor, and provide teachers to schools. With Probini’s presence additional social changes have taken place as in one village a 300-year old temple was saved while in another village a centuries-old festival came back to life after being shut down for fifty years, although Probini did neither fund nor initiate these two projects.
Probini has built the School (on right) and Providing Teachers. Pic: Opening of the Building
Karasole Village - of Bengali tribe of Sabar and Lodha tribe - School Students, Faculty, Parents and visitors Drs. Sachi G & Shefali S Dastidar
Akondara Santhali Tribal Village School, West Bengal, India:
Purokonda Orphanage of Oppressed-Caste Peoples, West Bengal, India:
Probini is Providing Teachers
AndharManik Girls' High School, Bagerhat, Bangladesh:
Probini has built the Dormitory