Shuchona Foundation signs MoU with Ability Bhutan Society


Shuchona Foundation and Ability Bhutan Society (ABS) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 12th May 2018. A number of Executive Committee members of Shuchona Foundation was present during the MoU signing. The MoU anticipates facilitating a collaborative joint research program, which will include training & workshop sessions, translation and sharing of resources. ABS is a public benefit organization inspired by the vision of His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, The King of Bhutan, of a compassionate and just society. The Royal Patron of ABS is Her Majesty Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck.  ABS envisions empowering individuals with diverse abilities and enhancing their quality of life to live independently and with dignity within Bhutanese society (

The collaboration intends to benefit both the organizations by developing low-cost, high-impact programs, resource materials about neurodevelopmental disorders and the coping mechanisms for the individuals and their family members, establishing a strong awareness around the notion.

In the future, Shuchona Foundation will collaborate with ABS, lending its expertise to conduct training sessions for service providers and stakeholders from Bhutan, which will be organized by ABS; identify appropriate experts and institutions for collaboration with ABS; and assist them in developing strategic GO-NGO partnerships to promote awareness and advocate for NDD-sensitive policies and programs. ABS in turn will provide feedback to Shuchona for cultural adaptation, improvement and updating of the resource materials and presentations.


Kishor-Kishori Club receives training on ECD from Shuchona Foundation


Shuchona Foundation conducted a 6-day training session with the leaders of the Kishor-Kishori Club at the training complex, Bangabandhu Academy for Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development (BAPARD), Kotalipara, Gopalgonj, from 27th April, 2018 to 01st May, 2018. This training was part of the Early Childhood Development project (ECD) which Shuchona is carrying out in collaboration with Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWCA). The training was on “Early Child Development” (0 to 5 years old) which was partaken by 45 youths, including 23 female and 22 male participants, aged 14-17 years old. The training program was designed with the aim to create awareness of the importance of monitoring early childhood development. This training focused on adolescents with the knowledge that in about a decade’s time, these participants will become parents themselves, and knowledge on ECD will make them better parents bringing up a healthy future generation. The participants gathered were from different sub-districts of Gopalgonj. These community leaders were the first batch to receive training from Shuchona Foundation. The training will then be followed up with Refresher Trainings over the year. The objective is to select master trainers from the training course who will then be eligible to facilitate trainings in their communities by themselves in the future.

The training sessions were conducted by Dr. Nusrat Y. Ahmed, MD. Serajus Sadekin Chowdhury and Evalin Rafia from Shuchona Foundation.

All the participants undertook interactive training sessions, for instance: hands on activity, group work, Q/A, role-playing/demo. The trainers also showed videos which were very enthusiastically received by the attendees.


The First Refresher Training on ECD in collaboration with the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWCA)



The First Refresher Training on Early Childhood Development (ECD) organized by Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs (MoWCA) was given to caregivers working at day-care centres. The training was conducted in two different batches. The first batch had their training on 8-9 April, 2018; and the training for second batch was on 10-11 April, 2018 at the Directorate of MoWCA, in Eskaton, Dhaka. Each batch had 40 participants.

The sessions were conducted by Dr. Nusrat Y. Ahmed, MD. Serajus Sadekin Chowdhury and Evalin Rafia from Shuchona Foundation. The Project Director, Mst. Ferdousi Begom, Joint secretary, MoWCA was present during the first and last days training session.


The trainers briefly went through the ECD manual based on the suggestion from the participants on which areas require additional focus. The major areas of discussion were:

– Social marker of development

– Behavior, Rules and punishment

– Expressive and receptive language


The refresher training was conducted successfully through robust discussions, hands-on activities, group work, and Q/A sessions.


Shuchona Foundation Participates at the WAAD Events of 2018 in UN HQ, New York


Like each year, the United Nations hosted a series of events to observe World Autism Awareness Day at its Headquarter in New York. This year’s theme was Empowering Women and Girls with Autism.  Shuchona Foundation’s Chairperson Saima W. Hossain attended and participated in the day’s events in her capacity as WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Autism in the Southeast Asia region, in addition to her other titles.

She, along with other experts in the field, spoke in one of a number of panel discussions organized by the UN Department of Public Information (UN, DPI) which was titled “Ableism, Sexism, Racism…How they Intersect”.


In addition to the panel, she attended the “Autism Advantage Luncheon” and spoke at the inauguration of an exhibition showcasing work of organizations in the field of ASD. Shuchona Foundation set up a booth at the exhibition where in addition to Shuchona’s materials, informational products from a number of other Bangladeshi organizations working in the field of ASD and NDDs was displayed. Malka Shamrose, COO of Shuchona Foundation accompanied the Chairperson and attended the WAAD events.


In observance of WAAD this year, Shuchona Chairperson wrote an article which was published by Inter Press Services News Agency. The article can be accessed through the following link:


Shuchona Foundation’s Chairperson attends the True Colors Festival in Singapore

In March 2018, UNESCO and Nippon Foundation of Japan organized the True Colors Festival – Asia-Pacific Festival of Artists with Disabilities which was first of its kind in the region. It was a festival for music, dance, and other performing arts in the region aiming to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. A conference, and a discussion forum was additionally organized where the importance of cultural inclusion of PwDs and potential artists with disabilities was discussed.


At the Festival, the Chairperson spoke at a panel discussion titled the policies, strategies and programmes in Asia-Pacific region and worldwide on cultural rights and inclusion of artists with disabilities.


Held from 22-25 March, the festival was grounded on the belief that the artistic and cultural integration of persons with disabilities is interconnected with the improvements of other disability-related issues and gender equality, which consists of the integral part of sustainable development.


ToT on Strengthening Capacity of Crisis Responders on addressing Mental Health Issue within Crisis preparedness and Management

The second and third ToT on Strengthening Capacity of Crisis Responders on addressing Mental Health Issue within Crisis preparedness and Management was organized by the Department of Disaster Management of the Ministry of Disaster Management & Relief in collaboration with Shuchona Foundation, Centre for Disability and Development (CDD), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The trainings, which were held from 4th to 8th January and 9th to 13th January 2018, was conducted by Joanne Byron, M.S., S.S/P, NCSP and co-facilitated by Prof. Dr. Shaheen Islam.  The objective of the trainings is to continue the process of developing a pool of trainers with the capacity to respond to crisis and provide mental health support.  These trainers, who were taught ways to respond to psychological crisis, will form a strong network, and in the future will be training additional crisis responders.


The 25 participants of each of the trainings consisted of professionals from the Ministry of Disaster Management & Relief, Ministry of Defence, Fire Service & Civil Defence; psychiatrists and psychologists from BSMMU, National Institute of Mental Health, and higher education bodies like Dhaka University; and organizations such as Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed, Save the Children, Plan International, etc.


The First Foundation Refresher Training on Strengthening Capacity of Crisis Responders on addressing Mental Health Issue within Crisis Preparedness and Management

The First Foundation Refresher Training on Strengthening Capacity of Crisis Responders on addressing Mental Health Issue within Crisis Preparedness and Management was organized by the Department of Disaster Management of the Ministry of Disaster Management & Relief in collaboration with Shuchona Foundation, Centre for Disability and Development (CDD), and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The two-day refresher training which was held on 2nd and 3rd January 2018, was conducted by Joanne Byron, M.S., S.S/P, NCSP. The refresher training enabled the participants of the first ToT on Strengthening Capacity of Crisis Responders on addressing Mental Health Issue within Crisis preparedness and Management to re-learn contents from the training, and also make connections between what they learned in the classroom earlier with their experiences on the field. The refresher course was organized after all the participants had a chance to go on field visits.

The 22 participants of the refresher course consisted of professionals from the Ministry of Disaster Management & Relief, and organizations such as Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed, Gana Unnayan Kendra, Plan International, among others.


Shuchona Foundation Chairperson delivers keynote speech at 1st International Conference for Rehabilitation Professionals

Shuchona Foundation Chairperson Saima W. Hossain delivered the keynote speech at the 1st International Conference for Rehabilitation Professionals in Bangladesh, held on 22-23 December 2017. The theme of the conference was Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services and Physiotherapy for achieving a milestone of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Organized by the Bangladesh Physiotherapy Association (BPA), and supported by the Bangladesh Occupational Therapy Association (BOTA), Society of Speech and Language Therapists (SSLT), and International Society for Prosthetics & Orthotics (ISPO) Bangladesh, the conference had both national and national delegates attending.

The title of Saima W. Hossain’s keynote speech was Necessity of Regulatory Body for Rehabilitation Professionals to meet the diverse health and rehabilitation needs of the people in Bangladesh where she acknowledged the need for rehabilitation professionals and emphasized on the need for a regulatory body to ensure dignity and quality of services provided by all rehabilitation professionals.


Shuchona Foundation commences training of project implementers for UNICEF project

On 18 December 2017, Shuchona Foundation in collaboration with FAITH Bangladesh commenced training of the project implementers of UNICEF’s pilot project on capacity-building of government service providers. The first episode of this training was a four-day preparatory course on autism spectrum disorder, which has been prepared by Shuchona. The course was delivered at the Shuchona office to 20 local psychologists from various institutions in Bangladesh such as IPNA, Shishu Hospital, and Labaid Specialized Hospital. The instructors for the course were Dr. Shirin Munir from the Department of Education Psychology of University of Dhaka, Dr. Nusrat Ahmed, autism expert from Shuchona Foundation, and Kazi Afroza Sultana, Vice-Principal of Proyash Institute of Special Education, Dhaka.

The purpose of this course was to establish a solid foundation of the diagnostic criteria for autism and the general types of interventions used to address this condition. After establishing the foundation, some partcipating psychologists will be recruited to serve as trainers for UNICEF’s pilot project in order to train government service providers on specific screening and diagnostic tools.


Shuchona Foundation partners with UNICEF Bangladesh and FAITH Bangladesh to pilot capacity-building of government service providers

On 17 December 2017, Shuchona Foundation signed an agreement with UNICEF Bangladesh to serve as a technical advisor for a 3-year pilot project on capacity-building of government service providers in order to achieve early identification of children with autism. This project will be in collaboration with FAITH Bangladesh, who is responsible for project implementation, and ICDDRB, who is the principal investigator responsible for researching the impact of the capacity-building and the efficacy of the pilot project.

While UNICEF Bangladesh is the principal sponsor of the project, Shuchona Foundation will be responsible for designing the technical components of the project, preparing the technical resources to be used in the project, and training those responsible for implementing the project. The aim of this project is to determine whether government service providers at various levels of the country’s healthcare system can be feasibly trained on the knowledge and skills necessary to identify children with autism and possibly other neurodevelopmental disabilities through a tiered screening process.


The International Development Pediatrics Association Congress


The 2nd International Development Pediatrics Association Congress was held in Mumbai, India from 7 to 10 December 2017. The Congress secretariat was Ummeed Child Development Center.

Shuchona Foundation’s Chairperson Ms. Saima Wazed Hossain was invited to co-moderate a session focusing on advocacy, along with Prof. Ilgi Ertem of Ankara University School of Medicine in Turkey. The session was titled Advocacy Efforts in Early Childhood Development and Disability held on 10 December 2017. The speakers at the session were Dr. Andy Shih of Autism Speaks, Dr. Bernadette Daelmans of WHO in Switzerland, and Ms. Jo McGowan Chopra of Latika Roy Foundation of India.

The mission of IDPA, as stated in its website “is to create a scientific platform to connect and support clinicians, researchers, and policy makers working in the field of Development Pediatrics and Allied Disciplines from around the world, especially from low and middle income countries to address this inequality.”


Shuchona Foundation organizes a seminar at Digital World 2017

On 7 December, 2017, Shuchona Foundation organized and hosted a seminar at ?the Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh’s Information and Communication Technology Division’s “Digital World 2017” expo at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. The seminar was organized in collaboration with Bangladesh Computer Council and the Prime Minister’s Access to Information porgamme (a2i). The objective of the seminar titled Employment of Persons with Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in the IT Industry was to promote the strengths and talents of individuals with NDDs that make them ideal for certain jobs particularly in the IT industry, such as data entry, software debugging, and graphic design.

The seminar was chaired by Prof. Md. Golam Rabbani, Chairperson of the Neurodevelopmental Disability Protection Trust and the keynote presentation was delivered by Ms. Parul Kumtha, President of the Forum For Autism in Mumbai, India. Other speakers at the seminar were Prof. Pran Gopal Datta, Vice Chairperson of Shuchona Foundation, Mr. Khandaker Jahurul Alam, Executive Director of Centre for Services and Information on Disability (CSID), Md. Mustafizur Rahman, Director of Innovation for the a2i Programme, Md. Shahadat Hossain Khan, a parent of a young man with autism, and Ms. Farhana Anwar Rahman, CEO of UY Systems and Vice President of BASIS. Additionally, Ms. Sajida Rahman Danny, Chairperson of Parents Forum for Differently Able Vocational Training Centre (PFDA VTC), delivered a presentation on how persons with NDDs have to be prepared for open or sheltered employment.


Ms. Kumtha’s presentation focused on ways to identify suitable jobs for persons with NDDs based on the individual’s strengths and talents so that employers view them as valuable human resources positively impacting a company’s bottom line, as opposed to being a recipient of charity.


The seminar was organized with the aim to deliver to the audience a better insight into the potential of persons with NDDs to hold jobs in a mainstream environment. This in turn will hopefully make the society come forward and support them in however way they can to help create employment opportunities for them. The seminar was attended by entrepreneurs from the IT industry, government officials, public representatives, and civil society members.


Shuchona Foundation receives the Ministry of Social Welfare Award

Shuchona Foundation is one of the proud recipients of Ministry of Social Welfare’s (MoSW) award recognizing its work and achievements in the field of disabilities. The award was given out to a number of organizations and individuals this year during a program organized by the Ministry of Social Welfare to observe the 26th International and 19th National Disability Day on 3 December 2017. Mr. Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, Finance Minister of the Government of Bangladesh was the chief guest at the event.

The award was received by Shuchona Foundation’s Executive Committee’s Vice-Chairperson Dr. Pran Gopal Datta. Other organizations who received the award were Green Disable Foundation (GDF), and the Lalmonirhat branch of Society for the Welfare of the Intellectually Disabled, Bangladesh (SWID Bangladesh, Lalmonirhat), along with a number of individuals for their work.


This year’s theme was Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all. After the award ceremony, and prior to the cultural show by differently-abled individuals, Shuchona Foundation’s short film on inclusion was screened.


Shuchona Foundation in upcoming High-level Intergovernmental Meeting on the Midpoint Review of the Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022

Shuchona Foundation’s Chairperson Saima W. Hossain will be heading the Bangladeshi delegation to the high level meeting organized by the United Nations Economic & Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) in Beijing, China. She will be heading the delegation in her capacity as the Chairperson of the National Advisory Committee on Autism and NDD, and will function also as WHO’s Goodwill Ambassador for Autism in the South East Asia Region.


The meeting, scheduled to be held from 27 Nov-01 Dec, 2017, is divided into two segments namely the Senior Officials segment (27-29 November, 2017), and the Ministerial segment (30 Nov-01 Dec, 2017).


Saima W. Hossain will have three speaking engagements during the meeting which are as:

  1. Panelist in Ministerial Round table on disability-inclusive sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific,


  1. Chair and speaker at the Side Event Leaving No One Behind: Inclusion of persons with autism & neurodevelopmental disorders in the 2030 agenda, organized by Government of Bangladesh and UNESCAP


  1. Speaker at the session Forward looking policies to accelerate the implementation of the Incheon Strategy.


Shuchona Foundation will be further represented by Malka Shamrose, its Chief Operating Officer. As high-level decision and policy makers discuss the progress of the Incheon Strategy, Shuchona Foundation hopes to bring to the fore issues surrounding persons with Autism and other Neurodevelopmental disorders, as their disabilities and disorders are often invisible thus, sometimes overlooked.


Preparatory Course for the 2017 KOICA Autism Fellowship Program

16th-20th October 2017


From 16th-20th October 2017, Shuchona Foundation developed and conducted a pre-departure comprehensive preparatory training on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) for participants selected for a two-week training course in South Korea. This training was held in the meeting room of the Institute of Pediatric Neurodisorder & Autism (IPNA) at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU)

KOICA Preparatory Course participants at a session conducted by Saima W. Hossain Photo: Shuchona Foundation


Since 2012, as part of the Korea International Cooperation Agency’s (KOICA) capacity development program in Bangladesh, the Agency has been arranging an annual fellowship course on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) for 15 local professionals selected by Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. The course is taught by Korea’s top experts on ASD with the objective to expose Bangladesh’s professionals to the various techniques of diagnosis and treatment of ASD that are practiced in South Korea, as well as delivering an insight into the infrastructure and services offered to individuals with ASD and their caregivers in South Korea.


This year, for the first time, the participants selected to go to South Korea for the fellowship received a pre-departure comprehensive preparatory training on ASD, which was developed and conducted by Shuchona Foundation. The training held from 16th-20th September 2017, covered the core concepts, theories, assessment and diagnostic tools, etc. for ASD and NDDs. It was develop

ed following discussions between Dr. Shin Suk-ho, senior expert on neurodevelopmental disorders in Korea, Saima W. Hossain, Chairperson of Shuchona Foundation, and Joe Hyungue, Country Director of KOICA Bangladesh. The aim of the discussions was to explore ways of improving KOICA’s annual autism fellowship in order to attain better outcomes for the Government of Bangladesh.

Dr. Nusrat Y. Ahmed during a session at the 5-day course Photo: Shuchona Foundation


This year the preparatory course was delivered to 5 doctors, 3 therapists, 4 teachers, and 3 government officials, all of whom are currently working in the field of ASD in Bangladesh. The trainers for the five days were:

  1. Saima Wazed Hossain – Chairperson, Shuchona Foundation
  2. Shirin Zaman Munir – Expert on Special Education & Executive Member, Shuchona Foundation
  3. Nusrat Yasmeen Ahmed – Manager, Research & Training Development, Shuchona Foundation
  4. Helal Uddin Ahmed – Psychiatrist & General Member, Shuchona Foundation
  5. Ashley Adkins – guest lecturer

Knowledge and information obtained from the pre-departure training has allowed KOICA to demonstrate to the fellows more advance techniques and strategies during their two weeks in South Korea. The feedback from the participants was positive, appreciating the preparatory course. The first of its kind for KOICA was very well-received, and Shuchona Foundation was informed that KOICA is now encouraging other country offices to conduct similar preparatory initiatives for other fellowship programs.


Shuchona Foundation Chairperson and one of the trainers, Saima W. Hossain, with the participants



Responding to the Rohingya crisis: 8th-26th October 2017


Refugees coming into Bangladesh. Location: Shah Parir Dwip Photo: Nazish Arman / Shuchona Foundation


Shuchona Foundation recently has been coordinating field visits to Rohingya refugee camps to provide psychological support to refugees using group crisis intervention techniques, as well as one-on-one counselling. This is being done in collaboration with the Department of Disaster Management, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, and Centre of Disability in Development (CDD). In August 2017, the Ministry in collaboration with CDD and Shuchona Foundation organized a 6-day training on ‘Strengthening the capacity of crisis responders on addressing mental health issues within crisis preparedness and management’. Following this, the crisis preparedness and management for mental health (CPM-MH) trainees, which included a colleague from Shuchona, conducted three field visits to the Rohingya Refugee Camps; the first visit being from 8th – 13th October, 2017.


During the first trip, over the 6 days, the CPM-MH team went door-to-door at the Kutupalong and Balukhali camps, hearing stories of lost family members, homes, and belongings; and surviving without any food or water for days. At the Shamlapur camp, the CPM -MH team also visited one of the women-friendly spaces by a local NGO, Mukti. The team conducted group counselling sessions at this center where refugee women shared their stories about seeing their family members killed in front of them by gunshots, fire, drowning, and beating. They spoke about their feelings of loss and despair and their long journey to Bangladesh; many of whom had to walk for nearly 7 days without any food and minimal water to make it to safety in Bangladesh.


The CPM-MH team will continue to conduct follow-up visits in the coming months to the Rohingya camps for providing mental health support services to the refugees, as well as the crisis responders themselves, including doctors, nurses, volunteers, etc.

Balukhali 2 Refugee Camp Photo: Nazish Arman / Shuchona Foundation



Shuchona Foundation’s Annual General Meeting


The members of Shuchona Foundation convened for its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 5th October 2017. The AGM, which was held at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum Auditorium, was attended by general members including Executive Committee members. Additionally, the auditor, a number of Shuchona Foundation’s advisors, and the management team were in attendance at the meeting.


The Annual General Meeting is an opportunity for the Chairperson, Vice-Chairperson and the Chief Operating Officer of the Foundation to present a report to the members highlighting the achievements of the previous year. For Shuchona Foundation, highlights of 2016-17 included the overwhelming success of the International Conference on Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ANDD2017), the development of the Early Childhood Development (ECD) manual and the commencement of ECD program in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs, development of the Collaborative Framework, launching of Saima W. Hossain’s book Unique Glimpses, among others. In addition to presenting highlights, the previous year’s audited financial report, appointment of its auditor, and other organizational matters were discussed and approved at the AGM.


This year’s AGM was a no-frills affair. The budget set aside for it was donated towards coordinating an initiative to provide preliminary mental health support to Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar. This activity is being carried out in association with the Department of Disaster Management of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief.



Training of Trainers on Early Childhood Development:

A Training Program to help child development from birth to five years


With the belief that it is imperative for children to have an enriched stimulating environment in their early years, and investment in Early Childhood Development can have an extraordinary public return (Grunewald and Rolnick, 2003), Shuchona Foundation has developed a training module for parents/ care-givers, that will assist them in enhancing their child’s development from an early age. This module has also incorporated early social-communication markers expected for typical child development. The module is implementable in any socio-economic and cultural context.


To ensure the proper use of this manual, in partnership with the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs (MOWCA), Shuchona Foundation has undertaken a training program to develop a pool of trainers who in turn will train mothers/care givers. The training program, which was formally launched on 4 June 2017, is being provided to mothers who fall under MoWCA’s Lactating Mothers’ Scheme program.

During one of the sessions
Honorable State Minister of Ministry of Women and Children’s Affairs Meher Afroze Chumki, MP, Secretary Nasima Begum, President of BKMEA A. K. M. Salim Osman, MP, and Prof. Pran Gopal Datta, Vice-Chairperson of Shuchona Foundation along with participants at the launch of the training program


Currently under the program, five-day foundational training has been received by 55 trainers from different garment factories working under Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA). These trainers will then train 28,000 lactating mothers from garment factories over a three-year period. Shuchona Foundation has also conducted the foundational training for 80 daycare workers under the ministry, who will directly work with the children attending the daycare centers. In addition to the foundational training, trainees will receive refresher trainings thrice a year. Under this plan, BGMEA and BKMEA trainers have already received their first refresher training at the end of October 2017 .

Group discussion during training session


As part of this program, 320 leaders of teenage clubs under MoWCA will also receive this training. They will in turn train 780 teenage club leaders. These teenage leaders will then train 33,000 teenage members in total over three years. The aim is to make future mothers become aware of important milestones of children’s social-communication development and ways of working with young children in developing their social-emotional and cognitive wellbeing.