Saturday, December 15, 2007

Stuck in Kathmandu
I am stuck in Kathmandu. After spending 2 days at the airport, I am getting a bit anxious I will never fly out of here. If it was pokhara, i would be a bit calmer as I would just head back to my yoga retreat and om away and perfect my chicken nose clearing dance!
I think sexism has reared its ugly head as the only 3 females trying to board the flight back to dhaka were rejected, even though we had valid tickets. I tried being calm- it didn't help. I tried getting angry- the guy walked away from me, so who knows how much longer i will be here. At least i made a lovely nepalese friend. She introduced me to a few local dishes, like buffalo last night. Will I be third time lucky tomorrow? If worse comes to worse I will bus out via India if i can get a transit visa.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

On my first day with the children I tried to visit Razu at his old centre, only to find he was not there. Luckily the staff were able to direct me to his new centre. There at another NGO for street children, Inceden, I found many of my old favourite kids, including Razu.

Later that day Razu told me that he had TB. He is getting treatment (He is 3 months into his 6 month DOTs program). It was such a shock, I was hoping that I had misunderstood our conversation, my Bengali being rusty and all. On my next visit I asked the staff who said his health was fine, but yesterday his TB status was confirmed by a friend of Razu's. I think Razu is anxious as Polly (one of the other 6 kids in the visible project) died from TB just over a year ago. Hopefully this is making him compliant with taking his tablets. As if he misses a single day he must start the treatment from scratch, and is more likely to build resistance.

Loevly is still working at the same beauty parlour as when I left and is doing well. She works everyday - only gets one day off a month. She receives free accomodation and meals and gets paid about $30 per month. This is pretty good by Bangladesh standards. It would be even better if her estranged mother didn't turn up at the parlour every month and demand that she hand over 2/3 of her salary. Poor Lovely is left with less than $10 a month for spending money.

Yesterday Razu, Lovely and I had a lovely outing to Dhanmondi, went to a cafe, saw some photo exhibitions, met up with their old photography teacher from the visible project and went to a night festival to raise money for the recent cyclone.

Visible Eyes
Through the kind donations of friends, I am arranging for 150 of the street children at my old NGO to get their eyes tested. If a child has poor vision they are less likely to participate in education and especially for the working children of the NGO are then more likely to be susceptible to injury. We will be testing the children's eyes and treating any eye diseases and providing glasses for all children that need them.
Back In Bangers
I have been back for a week. I have managed to break all sorts of records from losing my new sim card the day I arrived to getting gastro on my 4th day here- no more lassi's for me.

The kids have all been amazing. They were all so excited to see me. It has been hard trying to see them all as they are more dispersed than ever around different centres. I am meeting new kids all the time who want the same attention as the ones I have known for so long. There has n't been as much time to play games and do all the fun stuff I was hoping.

I saw my little kids from the head office the other day and that was very special. They are all growing up so fast.

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Box of chocolates
Sometimes life is like a box of chocolates, you just don't know which one you gonna get! (Forrest Gump)
I am still in sydney and not quite sure where I am headed next.
I just finished my masters yay!. I have a job, yay! But I am not sure where I am headed.
Back to Bangladesh? Melbourne? Northern Territory? Canberra? Another overseas destination or stay in Sydney? I am looking for a job in community development but not sure exactly what I'll get. I want the one with gooey caramel inside that tastes like a caramello koala but what you want is not always what you get. After working all day in front of a computer its time to work with people again. I miss my kids in Bangladesh and I think of them everyday. I can't wait to see them again soon even if just for a brief visit.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Aber Asbo Bangladesh, I will come again.
I said goodbye to Bangladesh last week. It was very sad. I will miss my kids most of all plus all the random beautiful people I met along the way. A big piece of my heart is still there and I plan to go back next year for a visit. My boys always walk with me and wait for me to catch my transport home, but not on my last day. We were all too sad. They managed to cheer me up though by calling me on the way to the airport. Here are some of the things I will miss about Bangladesh.

My boys from one of the centres, pictured on a rickshaw. I will also miss the rickshaws, a very easy, convenient, cheap and environmentally friendly way to get around.

My girls who would call me "upa" big sister and bang on my office window until I would run out to see them.

All the staff from SCDP program, here pictured at my farewell.

The supercheap tea stalls and their friendly staff.

The beauty parlour across from my house, no more pedicures, manicures, threading of my eyebrows, yoghurt hair treatments and hot oil hair massages, not that it stopped my hair falling out.

The corner shop who always remembered what I wanted to buy.

The fresh veggie stalls outside our house.

Our friendly helper Mugless, who always had a smile on his face.

Our apartments' guard Jalal who never complained when we woke him at 1 or 2 or 3am every Thursday night. He bought us some beautiful flowers when we left.

The high security surrounding our house. We lived in the same street as the opposition leader.

All the bargain shopping at New Market.

My adopted bangla mum and dad.

The beautiful boys and girls selling popcorn and flowers at the major intersections.

My Mirzapur and all my friends and Bangla family there.

My two friends Raju and Saddam from ARISE program.

My friend from work Mala and all her chicken roast dinners.

My friend Salma, teacher of my favourite class.

Our crazy Thursday nights at the aussie club.

More of the gang at the aussie club.

The parties and uncle Doug.

The embassy "open bar" functions.

and then Promida and Richard, fuscha, mango cafe and their tasty lassies plus much much more.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ten Pin Bowling
I took all the night shelter kids, the ones who live at the centres without parents ten pin bowling. Thanks to UNSW ISS staff and students who raised money via a bbq to cover the cost of the day. The kids and staff had never been bowling before. The bowling centre kindly gave me half price games and food.
The school teacher in me put the kids into
teams so they could play a few games but that plan went out the window becuase as soon as the kids saw what bowling was about they couldn't control themselves, everyone wanted to have a go..and all at the same time. Some of the kids did what came naturally and carried the heavy ball on their heads. We had a great day dancing, playing snooker and the kids got to taste chinese food.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Excursion to the Zoo
Last week I took my favourite little kiddies to the zoo as they s
eldom get a day out. It was also a great last day to spend with them. They were so excited, they dressed up in their best clothes. When I arrived to meet them they came running from all different directions and attacked me with hugs.
On the way in our minivan the kids were so happy they couldn't stop singing. I had to rescue a few kids who had jumped over the fences to get closer to the animals. The Bengal tigers were busy munching on some meat and were kept indoors after they had attacked a worker the week before. We left at the end of the day with all kids accounted for and all their fingers and toes.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Shundor Jewellery
Shundor means Beautiful in Bengali.
I have been working on a jewellery making project for the girls at my drop in centres. The girls are aged between 10- 15 years and have run away from home due to abuse or poverty. If it wasn’t for our centres the girls would be living on the street, or employed as domestic help or sex workers.

Domestic helpers here in Bangladesh have very little rights, They are often locked inside their employers homes and paid approx $20 a month or less. They cook and clean from early in the morning to late at night, receive hardly any holidays or other benefits and often sleep on the hard kitchen floor. There is a high rate of mental and physical abuse.There is also a high suicide or apparent suicide- rate of girls jumping from rooftops. Because of the location of their work, ie inside a family home it is a very hard industry to regulate and monitor.

Our girls at the centre lack long term vision and so have a high drop out rate from the vocational courses we put them through. I introduced the concept of making jewellery as it is quick and fast to learn and make and the girls seemed to like it. The project is an attempt to give the girls another skill and to supplement their income. The girls where have made the jewellery, the packaging and we have involved them in discussions about marketing techniques. Last week I sold some of their earrings and collected nearly $100- not bad for Bangladesh. The girls also enjoyed modeling and wearing the earrings. I will be selling some of the jewellery when I get back to Sydney shortly so you will be able to look beautiful too.