ASHIC is a non-profit organization in Bangladesh, serving children living with cancer. It was started in 1994 after the untimely demise of Ashiq Husain Choudhury, who was only 3 years 3 months and 3 days old when he died of cancer after a year-long treatment in London.
Salma and Afzal Husain Choudhury, were devastated after losing their son Ashiq on 20th May 1993. Among their 4 children, Ashiq is not the first child they lost. They lost their elder daughter, Samina Afzal (Munia), in February 1977 due to an accidental brain injury. Fortunately, Salma and Afzal Choudhury were blessed with another daughter (Maheen) in April 1977, a welcome distraction within their grief. Later Asif, their elder son, and Maheen helped the young couple to bear the ordeal of losing Munia. However, the prolonged illness and subsequent death of their youngest son Ashiq proved too much for Salma and she slid into severe depression. Her husband, their 2 children and the birth of ASHIC helped Salma to slowly overcome her circumstances.
In the early 1990s, Ashiq’s un-diagnosed disease, which manifested various symptoms for months prior, concerned his parents that medical services were inadequate in Dhaka. They were compelled to seek treatment for Ashiq in London, which is far more advanced in medical research, knowledge and capacity. After the immediate diagnosis and ensuing year-long treatment that still proved insufficient to save their son, Salma and Afzal were determined to help in the journey of families in Bangladesh who have a child living with cancer. With that mission, they set up ASHIC, a Foundation for Childhood Cancer. ASHIC stands for A Shelter for Helpless Ill Children, which also reflects an acronym for their lost son, Ashiq. Twenty-five plus years later, ASHIC is now known as a South Asian center of excellence for pediatric oncology services.
ASHIC is the first foundation in Bangladesh that focuses solely on Childhood Cancer. Through our work we have encountered countless families from all socio- economic backgrounds, which helps us identify and modify programs and activities that can have a positive impact on the Survival Rate of cancer affected children. Ever since ASHIC started addressing these issues, survival rate for cancer children in Bangladesh has been on a dramatic uptrend, while overall quality of life for the terminally ill children and their families has improved.