DHAKA: An 87-year-old British woman has been awarded Bangladeshi citizenship for her humanitarian work in the country over almost five decades.
“It is a long-cherished dream. I love this land and the people of this country,” Lucy Holt told Arab News after the citizenship ceremony.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina praised Holt as “a true friend of Bangladesh” at a ceremony at the official residence Ganabhaban on Saturday.
Holt first visited Bangladesh in 1960 when she was in her 30s. She later joined the Oxford Mission school at Barisal as a teacher and planned to leave this country after two years.
But instead she continued her work in education throughout Bangladesh until her retirement. Even after retiring, she kept working with needy children, teaching English and helping improve children’s mental health.
During the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971, Holt helped to care for wounded civilians at Fatema Hospital in Jessore district.
She also worked hard to raise public opinion in favor of Bangladesh, writing letters to her friends throughout the country and to her parents in the UK in which she described the difficult conditions faced by Bangladeshis.
A Barisal journalist, Apurbo Apu, told Arab News he first heard about Holt’s humanitarian work in 2016 and later made a documentary on the 87-year-old, describing the struggles she faced in old age, including difficulty paying visa fees.
“It was a mission to recognize her contribution during the liberation war. And now the nation is also honored by paying a respect to a true friend of Bangladesh.”
Holt plans to visit her younger sister in the UK in July and will return to Bangladesh by the end of the year.
“I am very happy at this moment,” she said. “Earlier, I tried a lot to have this. This time I have achieved it.”
Holt is hoping to have four books published, including a novel and a nonfiction account of her experiences in Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh government has promised to look after Holt for the her rest of her life in Bangladesh.
Habibur Rahman, deputy commissioner of Barisal district, who accompanied Holt to the citizenship ceremony, said: “We are ready to extend the hand of cooperation to her at any moment as and when necessary.”