Dhanani says his face annoys him.
Shehran Islam still had “breakfast on my
face” when he went to class the other
day. Some of their friends say people
they don’t know are coming up to them to
Sheehan Alam was surprised that “a lot
of my friends are saying that I look
Apparently, it is a rare thing these
days when a college man grows a beard.
About 15 young men at Arizona State
University stopped shaving March 19, the
last day of Spring Break. Most have
vowed not to apply the razor until May
14, the last day of final exams.
It’s not a fraternity
prank or stunt. The guys have good cause
for growing their whiskers. Dhanani, the
2003 senior class president at Corona
del Sol High School, explained.
“Dear Wrangler News,” the email
letter began, “My
name is Zeshan Dhanani. The reason I am
contacting you is that my friends and I
started a cause called Beards for
Bangladesh, in which we are raising
money for an orphanage in Bangladesh. We
are collecting pledges of various
amounts for however many days we can go
“We have a non-profit business account
at Wells Fargo called Beards for
Bangladesh, and anyone can go in and
make a deposit into it,” Dhanani’s
letter continued. “We are raising the
funds for an orphanage called Agrasara,
which cares for over 500 orphans. It is
truly a great cause, as twenty dollars
gives shelter, food, clothing, and
medical care for a child for an entire
The goal was to raise about $1,000 for
the orphanage, according to Shehran
Islam, who hatched the idea along with
Both young men (not related) are
sophomores with an eye on medical school
And both their families are from
Even Ryan’s younger brother – Robin
Islam, a senior at Marcos de Niza High
School – is participating.
Who would have guessed growing whiskers
could be so lucrative? At the latest
count, the beard growers had collected
pledges for about $4,000, Shehran Islam
Hasan Chaudhry, a Pakistan native who
came to Arizona in 1985, said the appeal
is similar to the popular “walk for”
charity drives. Here, sponsors pledge
money to a participant for each day that
he goes without shaving.
“What we are doing is basically very
simple and very easy,” Chaudhry said.
“It’s not that difficult. It’s just a
method … to get people to pledge for
every day that we don’t do something
that we normally would do every day.”
Dhanani, an ASU junior whose parents
both are from Pakistan, sees no
confusion in raising money for an
orphanage in Bangladesh.
“To me, we’re raising money for the
orphans, and it’s borderless,” he said.
“It’s not just an excuse not to shave,”
he said. “Actually, I can’t wait to
shave it. It’s kind of annoying – all
this facial hair just hanging from your
But, “it’s been a great conversation
starter,” said Dhanani, a future lawyer,
who uses every question about his new
beard as “a perfect opportunity to start
talking about the cause.”
“I haven’t had to much negative reaction
at all,” he says of his new look. “There
is curiosity as to why I’m doing it.
Once we tell them about the cause, it’s
The beard-growers’ website
-- includes photographs of the
transformation from smooth-cheeked to
It also links to a website for the
orphanage, which was established in 1944
as World War II ended.
The awkwardly-translated website
explains that the orphanage was
“established … by His Holiness Most
Venerable 24th Mahasnganayaka late
an Internationally Reported Humanitarian
Leader and Supreme Patriarch of The
Buddhist of Bangladesh, after the holy
demise of his preceptor Agrasara
Mahathero. It has been
rendering manifold benevolent services
for the suffering humanity especially
for the most unfortunate destitute,
helpless and parentless children
irrespective caste creed and religion
from the very beginning … .”
The orphanage “provides free food,
shelter cloths and medicine along with
free education from primary to higher
secondary level. It also provides free
general and technical education to the
female students up to degree
(Graduation) level who may stands on her
According to the Beards for Bangladesh
website, a $20 donation gives shelter,
food, clothing, and medical care for a
child for an entire month.
Dhanani works as a teller for the Wells
Fargo Bank branch office in the ASU
Memorial Union. He used his banking
knowledge to set up the Beards for
His job may force him to cut short (pun
intended!) his beard-growing effort,
Dhanani, who turns 21 on May 6, is
headed to Cancun in the first week of
May as a reward for being one of Wells
Fargo’s top performers. He plans to face
the Mexican sun with bare cheeks.
Shehran Islam plans to shave on May 14,
the last day of the fund-raising drive.
“I most definitely am (shaving),” he
said. “Living in Arizona it’s just
ridiculous to keep something like this
on your face when you don’t have to.”
He’d let his whiskers grow in the past,
“but never to this extent,” he said.
“For the most part, it’s just unkempt.”
“We started off thinking it’s a crazy
idea,” Islam said. “But it’s a product
they (sponsors) can’t refuse. It’s
entertainment and a good cause.”
“We get to look ridiculous,” Islam said.
And some orphans in Bangladesh get food,
clothing, shelter and an education.