Dr. Hoque's story...
Dr. Hoque's unique life story is still unfolding. The challenges he has faced in life have led him on a journey circling the globe, empowering others to fight for their dreams regardless of obstacles or stigma, and raising awareness on the plight of the world's children living in poverty.
Dr. Hoque was born in 1964 in Barisal, Bangladesh, nearly blind with congenital cataracts. His father, a university professor, and his mother, a homemaker, were determined to give their son the best quality of life possible. At the time, cataract surgery was not common in Bangladesh. By the age of five, he underwent seven eye surgeries which restored part of his vision, saving him from complete blindness.
"I feel so lucky that I had parents who could give me food, clean water, a bed to sleep in, and treatment so I could see. If I was born into a poor family I would not be able to see the world today."
As he entered school as a young boy, he was ridiculed for his thick eyeglasses and for taking a longer time to complete tasks due to his impaired vision. His doctors did not believe he could study for prolonged periods of time, and he was discouraged from attending school. This was not a deterrence, but rather fueled a spirt and determination in Dr. Hoque that ultimately led to his acceptance to medical school.
Personal struggles with his eyesight gave him a deep understanding of the difficulties faced by the visually impaired and the physically challenged – especially children. As a young physician, he organized a number of programs to help improve the quality of life for the poverty-stricken living in remote areas in Bangladesh, especially during harsh weather conditions and in the event of natural disasters common during monsoon season.
He distributed vitamins and vegetables to expectant mothers, to prevent their children from developing conditions such as those that led to his partial blindness. These trips exposed him to many small children who dropped out of school and entered factories to seek employment or worked as maids. Many of these children were abused or tortured by their employers. This inspired Dr. Hoque to form a non-governmental organization to help these children to keep them in school and decrease the rate of school dropouts extensively in these impoverished areas, by involving school authorities, building awareness in the communities and providing support to children in dire need through child sponsorship.
By 1987, Dr. Hoque had become a medical doctor; he completed his Ph.D. in 1995, and his postdoctoral fellowship in 1997 at the University of Western Ontario in Canada. Over the years, he has worked at several different institutes: Rajshahi Medical College Hospital, Bangladesh; Dhaka Children Hospital, Bangladesh; Asahikawa Medical University, Japan; University of Western Ontario, Canada; University of Toronto, Canada, and Yale University School of Medicine, USA.
Dr. Hoque’s research fields include cardiovascular pharmacology and physiology with a special focus on ischemia-reperfusion injury of the heart, and neuroendocrinology with a focus on aging. Dr. Hoque has published his work in various scientific journals and presented his findings at national and international conferences. He has also been the recipient of numerous academic honors, including a Monbusho Scholarship from the Japanese Ministry of Education, research awards from the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the University of Toronto Research Fellowship, and the Hartford Foundation Fellowship.
As a dedicated human rights activist, Dr. Hoque was determined to build an organization to provide quality education and healthcare to underprivileged children, prevent childhood blindness, and to help those suffering from extreme poverty in Bangladesh & around the world. In 2003, his dream was realized: while working at Yale University, he founded Distressed Children & Infants International (DCI).
Today DCI is a successful non-profit organization that supports thousands of disadvantaged children, their families and communities in Bangladesh, India, Nicaragua and Nepal. DCI’s central concept "Children Helping Children", provides opportunities to American youth and to thousands of volunteers globally to connect with underprivileged youth and communities in need.
For the past 30 years, Dr. Ehsan Hoque has been a tireless advocate for child rights and has spoken in hundreds of conferences and events alike, to encourage others to make an impact in the world. Addressing audiences in the United States, Bangladesh, Japan, Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, England, France, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and Canada.
Dr. Hoque is committed to motivating the next generation of leaders to unleash their greatness. He speaks about the incredible vitality of embracing empathy, the need to debunk stigma, and his life experiences to empower audiences. As a young child, he was not discouraged by his doctors, nor he did not shy away from his critics, rather he used the dissent due to his visual disability to strengthen himself, and motivate others to create real, effective change. At the podium, Dr. Ehsan Hoque fills the room with his energetic, passionate, straight-from-the-heart, customized message to audiences around the world.
- Mother Teresa Golden Award (2021)
- Rajshahi Government College in Bangladesh (2020)
- City of Cambridge, Massachusetts (2019)
- All European Bangladesh Association (AEBA) Humanitarian Award (2019)
- Tauri Foundation, Humanitarian Award (2019)
- Bangladesh Medical Association of North America (BMANA) New York Chapter Humanitarian Award (2018)
- Society of Bangladeshi Doctors in Queensland, Bangladesh Medical Society of Australia, Humanitarian Award (2018)
- Bangladesh Medical Association of North America (BMANA) California Chapter Humanitarian Award (2017)
- ATN Bangla Television Humanitarian Award (2017)
- Rajshahi Medical College Humanitarian Award (2016)
- North America Bangladesh Convention (NABC) Award (2014)
- Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America (FOBANA) Outstanding Community Service Award (2013)
- Bangladesh Association of Phoenix Award (2012)
- Cheshire Exchange Club Award (2011)
- Bangladesh Unity Federation of Los Angeles (BUFLA) Charitable Service Award (2009)
- Federation of Bangladeshi Associations of North America (FOBANA) Commitment Award for Charity (2008)
- Bangladesh Association of Greater Kansas City Award (2007)
- Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America (FOBANA) Award (2007)
- Texas Chamber of Commerce Extraordinary Service Award for Deprived Children (2005)
- Rajshahi University Best Volunteer and Community Leader Award (1975)
Dr. Hoque believes...
"I feel so fortunate that my family could afford to provide food, clean water, a place to sleep, and life changing surgery for my vision problems at an early age. If by chance I was born into a family that was struggling to put food on the table, things would have been very different: I might not be able to see this beautiful world."
What friends are saying...
Actress & Goodwill Ambassador, DCI
As Goodwill Ambassador of DCI, I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dr. Ehsan Hoque over the past decade. Through his extraordinary dedication and hard work, DCI has been able to establish a stable and transparent support system, and is helping thousands of children and their families in Bangladesh. Dr. Hoque is a man of highest integrity, who selflessly gives his time and effort to helping others more than any other person I have ever known. As Goodwill Ambassador for DCI, I am extremely proud of Dr. Hoque’s achievements and privileged to be a part of his endeavors.
Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh
It has been a great honor for me to be a part of Distressed Children & Infants International (DCI) since its founding by Dr. Ehsan Hoque in 2003. Under Dr. Hoque's extraordinary leadership, DCI is achieving miracles through partnerships and collaborations with many other organizations and individuals. I am inspired and motivated by the work that DCI does, and by Dr. Hoque because of his infinite dedication to help those in need and his enduring love for the people and country of Bangladesh.
United States Senator (D-CT)
I applaud the efforts and leadership of Dr. Ehsan Hoque of Distressed Children & Infants International for his long-standing commitment to improving the lives of children worldwide, including his unwavering effort to ensure that all is being done to protect and promote child vision and eye health. I am proud to support Dr. Hoque’s critical mission, and look forward to following and supporting their important cause.
President, Yale University
As Yale's President, I am proud of DCI's inception at the University nearly two decades ago and the significant forum it has established for advancing the cause of child rights. DCI's Conference on Child Rights & Sight has become one of the most successful international conferences in Connecticut, positioning Yale University as a central location in a global campaign for the defense of children. The partnership between DCI and Yale is built on shared values and has proven to be deeply and reciprocally fruitful. I highly appreciate the leadership of Dr. Ehsan Hoque who made all this possible. He is an excellent leader whom we all are proud to have the opportunity to work with.
Brian M. DeBroff, M.D., F.A.C.S.
President, DCI & Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Science, Yale University
It is a great pleasure and a special honor to have known Dr. Ehsan Hoque for more than 20 years. Through his passion and tireless devotion, he has helped provide healthcare and education for thousands of children and prevented thousands more from suffering from the ravages of child labor. Dr. Hoque is a motivator, a national and international role model, a remarkable father, physician, and human rights activist and a person of great integrity. He is an inspiration to me and continues to prove his resilience and his drive by moving DCI forward and creating incredible, positive change in the world.
Singer & DCI Goodwill Ambassador
As Goodwill Ambassador of Distressed Children & Infants International (DCI), I have had the great honor of getting to know Dr. Ehsan Hoque over the years. I have traveled all over the world with him and am always amazed to see the vast network of people who love and respect him deeply for his integrity, passion and commitment to this humanitarian cause. Moreover, I have seen him work tirelessly, day and night, to make a change in even one more child’s life. His passion is contagious, and his organization is extraordinary.