Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Bangladesh: Icing on the Cake

Arrius greets a new bedkit owner
From Bangladesh 2007 Album
Hello everyone, Arrius here.

We have finished our Bangladesh 2007 SCAW trip! It is over already and things have sure gone by fast. I hope you all enjoyed reading my blog posts. I am sure the SCAW team will gladly share our stories with all of you when we return to Canada. The trip has been wonderful and I have seen, experienced, and learned many things.

It has been fun writing the blog and keeping all of you up-to-date. I am now finishing my part and turning over this last post to Dave who will conclude it.
Click for larger view.
Bangladesh 2007 Album
Over 900,000 Bedkits Distributed

This morning, November the 7th, we completed the distribution of 7,500 bedkits to the children of Bangladesh. [Editor's Note: Bringing our total to 905,350 bedkits since Murray Dryden's first distribution in 1970.]

In order to accomplish this successfully we needed to be well organized and efficient. The SCAW team of Don, Roberta, Judy, Clive, and Arrius was more than equal to this challenge. I am so proud of them. They were very competent, demonstrated their caring for the children, and worked very well with the Rotary and Lion's Club members and their volunteers.

One of the sacrifices the team had to make was the curtailling of some of the social interactions with the local people at each distribution site. They also were limited in opportunities to really see the children acting as children. It was as if they saw the children in a classroom setting rather than on the playground and at recess.

This afternoon we had a chance to see our bedkit recipients as playful children. We visited the village of Shambhupura. Last week fifty children from this village had travelled by bus for two and a half hours to a distribution site in Dhaka. There they received their bedkits and today Rotarians Abideen and Maswoodul took us back to Shambhupura to see the homes of these children.

All together we visited about fifteen homes and were invited in to meet the parents and the children. As we moved from house to house we were followed by the children, laughing and crowding around, just as children do throughout the world. It was a wonderful conclusion to our distribution trip.

Last night we attended a wrap-up dinner with the Lion's Club group, Mr. and Mrs. Hadi, and a number of their volunteers. Then tomorrow it will be a day of shopping and sightseeing followed by a dinner hosted by the Rotary Club of Dhaka.

This weekend the SCAW team heads in different directions. Clive, Judy, and Dave head back to Canada, while Don, Roberta, and Arrius begin another adventure by going to Dheli (and staying in a $12 a night hotel!). They will be meeting up with some of their family and travelling around India.

I want to thank Arrius for his great work in posting our blogs and pictures. He is a wonderful young man who has added much to the team. I call him "Stretch" because he spends all of his waking hours working hard at the distribution site, eating, or stretching his muscles. He is very accomplished at all of these tasks.

My thanks to the SCAW team and our overseas volunteers

Dave Dryden, team leader

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Sunday, 4 November 2007

Bangladesh: SCAW on TV

Bangladesh 2007 Album
The 2007 Bangladesh SCAW team has been on TV.

Our faces have been shown nationwide on at least two different TV stations in Bengali and English language channels. We have been aired at three different times for the 6, 8, and 10 o'clock news for the past three days.

Unfortunately, none of the SCAW team has been able to watch TV because we are either on the road or in bed at the time, but our hotel receptionist at the desk has kept us informed.

Today has been another great day and in fact it has been the second time so far that we have distributed exactly the right number of bedkits that we were supposed to, with a distribution of 700 bedkits.

We are becoming quite familiar with a few Bengali words that we find useful in our distributions such as:
  • Hasho*, which means smile, or laugh. We use this for when the children stand in front of the camera.
  • Asho, which means to come, used in guiding the children from station to station.
  • Jow, which means to go.
  • Meira pronounced may-ra, which means girls.
  • Chilera, pronounced chile-ra (like the country), which means boys.
*The words were spelled to the best of our knowledge.

Our Bangladesh adventure is almost coming to an end as we have two more distributions left!

Arrius Racioppo, SCAW team member

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Saturday, 3 November 2007

Bangaldesh: Half way through

A colourful display as we gathered the last hundred children
for a group picture ... can you spot the SCAW team?
From Bangladesh 2007 Album
We have passed the half way mark! We have distributed just over 4,000 bedkits.

We have finished working with the Rotarians and now are working with the Lion's Club. We've had our first two days with them doing distributions in the Feni area. The team had a five-hour drive through scattered showers on the first distribution day.

Since Friday is the weekly Holy Day and children don't attend school, we were greeted by a crowd of villagers as well as the children who were all outfitted in their new, varied, and colourful outfits. The Lion's Club volunteers fit smoothly into their roles, the rain held off, and the children left with smiles and their new bedkits.

From Bangladesh 2007 Album
After spending the night in the area, we went to our second distribution. It was hot and humid, but the children waited patiently for their bedkits. The big excitement for the day came when a three-foot long poisonous snake was discovered in the storage room with the bedkits. A minor battle ensued, but the snake was the only casualty.

The team finished the day with a shopping expedition at the Hadi's store in Dhaka. Arrius is proving himself to be a very efficient shopper.

Judy Dryden and Arrius Racioppo, SCAW team members

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Thursday, 1 November 2007

Bangladesh: Thank you Rotarians and Rotaract members

From Bangladesh 2007 Album
Yesterday was our last day to distribute bedkits with the Rotarians. We did 800 that day and it went very smoothly. We even got a few breaks because the children would come to the site at different intervals and then needed to be changed with the help of the volunteers. We could tell the children were excited by the huge smiles on their faces as they felt the bedkit slowly landing on their heads.

It was great to have worked with the Rotarians. They have been a big help to us and i would also like to make mention of the volunteers who were from the Rotaract Club. They were also a great help in maintaining order and a good flow during the distributions.

From Bangladesh 2007 Album
We had some complications with the ride from the distribution site back to our hotel so we decided to go by rickshaw. It didn't take long before we rounded up six rickshaws with a SCAW member in each one and formed a line with a Rotarian in the front and back.

An experience it was!

After watching rickshaw after rickshaw bike by our cars and travel on the sides of roads wherever we went, we can say that we have ridden in one as well.

That night we were invited by Mr. Hussain for dinner at the Dhaka Club Limited where he is a member. It was fine dining and a splendid time to spend the evening with him.

Arrius Racioppo, SCAW team member

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