Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Philippines 2 Trip Reports Posted

The donor newsletter for the Philippines special emergency bedkit distribution has gone to print and can be downloaded from the Sleeping Children Website.

Philippines 2 Photo Album
Photos are available in the Philippines 2 Photo Album. You can view them by clicking the link at left.

All of the reports did not fit into the newsletter but you can read them in their entirety here.

Here is a download link for the PDF version of the newsletter.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Nicaragua: Trip Reports Posted

The donor newsletter for the Nicaragua distribution has gone to print and can be downloaded from the Sleeping Children Website.

Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
Photos are available in the Nicaragua Photo Album. You can view them by clicking the link at left.

All of the reports did not fit into the four pages of our newsletter but you can read them in their entirety here.

Here is a download link for the PDF version of the newsletter.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Phlippines 2: Mission Accomplished

From Philippines 2 Photo Album

Our last day - and the most emotional!

The last site was a senior's home in an area called St. Camillus where 400 children were excited to receive the "Gift of Love." There were two main reasons for emotional experiences today.

The first was the children: all 4,000 children who we touched and were touched by were special in the Philippines; however, the first 76 children on this final day of distribution were "special needs" children. It was hard to keep our emotions inside.

The bottom picture shows shows a young lad who just could not wait to get his hands on the box of coloured pencils - a special moment!

From Philippines 2 Photo Album

The other reason for our emotions showing was that we were saying "So Long" to such a wonderful group of people in the SCAW Core Committee. In the short time that we have been in the Philippines to distribute 4,000 bedkits, we had developed a special bond with these giving people. They will forever be in or hearts and memories. As Dr. Ito says, "We don't say Good-bye!"

And so, the distribution of 400 bedkits to the final 400 children brings us to the end of a wonderful experience in the Philippines. We say "Thank you" to our donors for making this possible and to the SCAW Core Committee and the hundreds of volunteers in the Metro Manila area for creating an unforgettable experience over the past six days.

Duncan Macgregor
for Team Philippines 2

Leave your comments here.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Philippines 2: Tatalon

From Philippines 2 Photo Album
Today, we completed another successful distribution to 800 children of Tatalon, one of the hardest hit areas in Manila.

Tomorrow will be our last distribution of 400 bedkits, and in the afternoon, Duncan, Sue and Don are off to Hong Kong then home. I felt nostalgic and felt we have been through so many great moments in the short period that we were together and now it's about to end. I want to share with you some of the memorable moments that made this trip one of my best trips for Sleeping Children.
  • A short program that starts the day is the singing of the Philippine National Anthem. I feel proud singing it with the children. After a while, Don and Duncan can actually hum the tune with the group!
  • Of course when "O Canada" is being sung, the booming voices of Dr. Ito, Jess & Boyet (SCAW Core Committee members) to support us, makes it sound like there are many people singing with gusto.
  • Sue and I enjoy opening a bedkit and individually modeling each item to the delight of the parents and children.
  • Dr. Ito & "the good looking one"
    Philippines 2 Photo Album
  • Don's "moment of fame came in Marilao. A large crowd of mothers with colourful umbrellas were cordoned off with ropes. I started shaking their hands when some bold ladies shouted "We want the good looking one" pointing at Don. I shouted for him to come over. He ran towards us and everybody cheered. It reminded me of the Rolling Stones coming into the stage. He worked the crowd to their delight and many photos were taken.
  • After Duncan's short speech about why we are there, and on behalf of the donors who would like the children to have comfortable sleep and to concentrate better in school, he would say, "Now we are ready to sing our song." We do the song and action of, "When you're happy and you know it, clap your hands." Most of the children know the song and they perform it with us. Dr. Ito wants to be our agent to put us on the road!
  • The funniest of all that kept the children giggling is Duncan's magic and his Charlie Chaplin's imitation of tripping.
  • The amazing volunteers, teachers, and clergy who prepared goodies for us after each distribution. For each distribution, dozens of volunteers showed up at each site like the Vista Verde Volunteers and the ladies in green.
  • The way the children were given snacks treated with iodized salt to give them more energy.
  • And, the wide eyes and smiles of thousands of children who are receiving the "Gift of Love" (bedkit).
Philippines Album
There are too numerous memorable moments to list, and overall it's been a great distribution. We thank the Philippine SCAW Team and their spouses with their children who actively helped in the distribution. All of these made it such a great experience.

As of today, we have distributed 3,600 bedkits - 400 to go!

Linda Taiabjee
for Team Philippines 2

Leave your comments here.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Philippines 2: Pasig

Tony and the Sleeping Children team
From Philippines 2 Photo Album
In every SCAW distribution there are so many unsung heroes and we would like to introduce you to one of our heroes: Tony, our driver. Once you experience Manila traffic you will never complain about traffic in Canada again! We take our hats off to Tony for patiently getting us wherever we have to go safely.

When we arrived in the Philippines (Manila) on November 18th, we were amazed at the number of Christmas decorations that were everywhere -- from our hotel lobby, to the street vendors, to the houses with light displays. Christmas is a huge holiday period in the Philippines and they start celebrating it early. The SCAW team is having our own special Christmas time as we are provided with the opportunity to gift a "Gift of Love" to 4,000 Philippine children on behalf of our many donors. As we photograph the children it is also interesting to see so many labels wishing "Merry Christmas" to friends and family through the gift of a bedkit to these needy children. Yes, Christmas has come early for these children, most of whom have been victims of the recent typhoons and flooding in the Manila area. And, the Spirit of Christmas has come early to the members of the Sleeping Children team in the Philippines thanks to the generosity of SCAW donors.

From Philippines 2 Photo Album
"Thanks," for allowing us to share this feeling with these wonderful beautiful children.

The SCAW Philippines team has now distributed 2,800 bedkits over the past four days. Today bedkits were distributed in an area of Manila called Pasig to 800 children. A good portion of this area was totally flooded.

For the members of the SCAW Team, the time has gone so fast - but the memories of the children's happy faces will linger on!

Duncan Macgregor
for Team Philippines 2

Leave your comments here.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Philippines 2: Olandes and Marilao

From Philippines 2 Photo Album
Saturday feels like every other day since we had arrived in Manila. Looking down on to the streets below, the traffic is already building by the time we leave at 8:30 am.

Our day consists of distributing a total of 800 bedkits in two different locations: Olandes and Marilao. On the way to our first distribution, we are shown one of the many areas that was extremely affected by the flooding. Although the streets are almost completely cleaned up, there are still many visible signs that show us just how high the water level rose. The water marks against many of the buildings indicate the water level rising to nine feet!

Any type of transportation used here in Manila, mainly cars and motorized tricycles ended up in huge piles as a result of the high water. As we approached Olandes and the church area where we would be distributing the first 400 bedkits, we drove by a number of mounds of dirt and debris that now covered what was once a beautiful park.

From Philippines 2 Photo Album
The boys and girls at the church in Olandes were ready to go and were sitting in a number of different classrooms. As our team leader, Duncan (Dad) searched for the right set up, Sue , Linda, and I were able to say hello to all the children patiently waiting for us.

We were greeted by loud "Good morning visitors" and big smiles. The set up for our pictures with the children and distribution of the bedkits was perfect. We were all able to see each other and the parents were able to watch their children receive a bedkit. As the 'newby' in the group, the morning was extremely special as it was my turn to actually hand the bedkit to each child. Words cannot describe my feelings. Where did the morning go!

After being treated to a wonderful lunch we were on the way to our second distribution in Marilao. The distribution was held at one of the public school areas. As we drove into the school area, we were greeted by the many parents who were waiting patiently for us to arrive and to see their children receive their bedkits. The afternoon was beautiful and once again we were able to be close to the parents so that they could see their children during the pictures. A beautiful rainbow in the sky was soon followed by a rain shower and we were forced to do our last 10 pictures under the roof.

One of my most memorable moments came when I thanked a young girl for so patiently waiting for what probably was hours before she received her bedkit. With a smiling face she said, "It was worth the wait, sir."

Although the traffic was extremely busy on the way home (We will never complain about Toronto traffic again), it gave us time to reflect quietly the days activities.

We are now half way through our distribution with 2,000 bedkits distributed.

Tomorrow is another 800 bedkits.

Don Macgregor
for Team Philippines 2

Leave your comments here.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Philippines 2: Vista Verde

From Philippines 2 Photo Album
The distribution today was at the Immaculate Conception Parish in Viste Verde. When we arrived many of our SCAW children were waiting patiently to be registered. We spent time chatting with the children and their parents. Most of the families were affected by the floods.

From Philippines 2 Photo Album

The church courtyard was being used to air the water logged bibles, hymn books, etc.

We handed out 800 bedkits at this distribution site and each SCAW child's eyes lit up when they received their SCAW bedkit. The SCAW children in Manila have been through so much and their SCAW treasures are a new beginning for each child and their family.

Sue Small
for Team Philippines 2

Leave your comments here.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Philippines 2: The Bedkit

Here are the contents of the Philippines 2 bedkit:
  • Plastic Mat
  • Mosquito Net (LLIN)
  • Blanket
  • Sheet
  • 2 Pillows
  • Pillow case
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 5 T-Shirts
  • 2 Bath Towels
  • 3 Toothbrushes
  • Face Towel
  • Poncho (raincape)
  • Pair Flip Flops Slippers)
  • 2 Pairs of socks
  • School Bag
  • 6 Notebooks
  • 12 coloured pencils with case and sharpener
  • 6 pencils
  • 3 Ballpoint Pens
  • Ruler
  • Grade 2 pad
  • Intermediate pad
  • Plastic bag
Duncan Macgregor
for Team Philippines 2

Leave your comments here.

Philippines 2: First Distribution

Don & Dr. Ito
From Philippines Photo Album
It was a long way but we all made it! Duncan, Don & Sue arrived yesterday at 10:30 AM and I arrived exactly twelve hours later at 10:30 PM. We were met at the airport by Jess, the SCAW Philippine representative, and Tony, our driver for the duration of the distribution. Tony has been a constant as he has been the driver for the SCAW travelling volunteers for the last twelve years. He is a careful driver but most of all he knows how to maneuver through the crazy traffic in Manila.

After a nice breakfast at the hotel, we proceeded to our pre-distribution meeting with the Kiwanis team and visited the warehouse where the bedkits were packaged, ready for distribution. They had to give up the old warehouse for many reasons, and this time used two of Dr. Ito's homes which were converted into warehouses. The two homes which used to be beautifully furnished now contained 4,000 bedkits wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor in the livingrooms and all the bedrooms. We observed the amazing production line where six volunteers filled a huge plastic bag with sixty-two items.

The Philippines 2 Team
From Philippines Photo Album
We had our pre-distribution meeting where Dr. Ito Torres submitted: the financials, the distribution sites, a list of bedkit items, and bank statements. To quote him, he said that because they had to order the items at short notice before receiving the remittance from SCAW, that they used "face-value" as collateral. He made a face!

He explained that the SCAW Philippines distribution is a family affair. This involved the die-hard team plus their spouses who were given important responsibilities.

After a quick lunch, we proceeded to our first distribution which was at a school in Karangalan, Antipolo (Honor in English). It was especially moving because all the children were affected by the recent flooding that devastated the area. We distributed 400 Bedkits which represented 10% of the total. Emotions were overflowing not only for our team but most of all to the parents, teachers, and volunteers who were grateful as this represented a new beginning for them to recover from their loss.

So this is how our first day ended, full of anticipation for more successful and heart warming distributions in the next few days.

Linda Taiabjee
for Team Philippines 2

Leave your comments here.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Philippines 2: They're on the way

We just got the following brief email from the travelling team:
Hi Folks:

The longest leg to Manila is now complete. The team of three (Sue, Don, and Duncan -- Linda is travelling separately from the pack) has completed the 15-hour segment to Hong Kong with a three-hour layover. So we are sitting in an empty airport at 5:00 AM having Starbucks and Twizzlers (supplied by Sue). In three hours we will take off for Manila where we will be picked up by our hosts and head to the hotel for some needed sleep.

Tomorrow morning we will have our pre-distribution meeting. After lunch we will head to our first distribution of 400 bedkits.

We are excited to meet the children!

Don, Sue, and Duncan.

Stay tuned for more news as we receive it.

Leave your comments here.

Philippines 2: Leave your comments here

To add your own comment, enter it in the box at the bottom of this page. Then click on the button to "Post Comment."

As a courtesy, please include your name at the end of your comment or click on "Select profile ,,," and fill in your name by selecting "Name/URL" there.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Philippines 2: Emergency Distribution

Our last trip in our Year of the Millionth Bedkit is planned for the Philippines. After the typhoon floods, we received an emergency request for bedkits from our contact in the Philippines, Dr. Ito Torres.

At the end of November a team is going for our second Philippines distribution of the year. They will be distributing 4,000 bedkits. The team met at the Sleeping Children office at 28 Pinehurst in Toronto on Saturday, November 14th to prepare for their trip.

Pictured (Left to Right): Don Macgregor (Toronto, ON), Linda Taiabjee (Scarborough, ON), Sue Small (Oakville, ON), Duncan Macgregor (Team Leader; Etobicoke, ON)

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Bangladesh: Trip Reports Posted

The donor newsletter for the Bangladesh distribution has gone to print and can be downloaded from the Sleeping Children Website.

This year in Bangladesh there were two Sleeping Children travelling teams, one who travelled with the Lions Club of Dhaka Supreme View to deliver 4,000 bedkits and one who travelled with the Rotary Club of Dhaka to deliver 5,000 bedkits.

Because there were an unprecedented twelve reports only part of each report was published in the print version. To read all the reports in their entirety, please go here.

Here is a download link for the PDF version of the newsletter.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Nicaragua: 5,000 Children

Today was the last day of our distribution, a happy/sad day.

Wow, 5,000 children in Nicaragua have received a bedkit and at least one hug from at least one SCAW member ... but we are now nearing our departure date from this wonderful country and all its beautiful people!

As well as handing out the very last bedkit today, we also had the honour of visiting two families who received bedkits. One child received theirs last year and the other just today.

They both eagerly welcomed us into their homes proudly displaying their beds. One family had one bed already for the entire family while the other only had a tiny hammock for the little baby. What an immense difference a bedkit will make for these humble families! I am so blessed to experience the joy of feeling the gratitude these people have for this gift.

Having the opportunity to see the difference our distributions create is right up there with hugging hundreds of children daily, seeing hundreds of smiles daily, and meeting so many beautiful people. What more could one ask for?!?

The distribution is complete, so now we have a couple of days to see a little more of Nicaragua at a slower pace ... and come down from the clouds of being involved in such a inspiring and motivating experience!

Suzanne Dobinson
for Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Nicaragua: Rivas

Today our distribution to Rivas, located southwest of Managua, was a drive of 111 kilometres in our 24-seater bus. Our driver Juan stopped once on our one-and-a-half-hour drive to refill our cooler with ice and bottled water.

Jose Adan Delgado, Rotary, was responsible for the distribution site, his town, with children from twelve schools participating.

As the first children were changing into their blue shorts and white t-shirts, a second group was sitting on the floor in the school auditorium preparing to welcome us. After, as guests, we had been seated, Jose stood close to the school banner and addressed the children by emotionally saying "You bring much Joy to my life!" I listened to this being spoken and translated from Spanish into English and felt the sincerity from the bottom of his heart. The poster he held in his hands showed the two countries of Canada and Nicaragua joined by the clasp of two hands which emphasized the lessons being taught in the school community.

A snapshot of our site distribution would have shown:
  1. Ted in front of a tripod in the blazing sun.
  2. Senora Delgado sitting at a school desk checking the names of children receiving bedkits.
  3. Linda T and myself placing the children for their photos ... receiving rewarding smiles with the aid of Santa and Lion puppets, and blowing bubbles.
  4. Jack, the team floater, assisting with the little details.
  5. Jose placing the straps from the children's personal plastic bags over their wrists ... always with an encouraging word, smile, and hug.
  6. Jackie recording the labels/photos with a total of 495.
  7. Suzanne, with a hug and smile placing the blue bag in each child's hand ... the heavy mattress carried by a high school student.
  8. Volunteer high school students and parents helping in the dressing room, directing children from location to location, serving a drink and snack to each child.

This day brought joy to my life ... a direct quote from a man I shall always remember.

Love and Laughter,

Linda L
for Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Nicaragua: Nandismo

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
Today was a big day for us as we had to deliver over 600 bedikits to 600 deserving children in 4 different schools. We arrived at the school at Nandismo to be greeted by an excited crowd of children, their parents, teachers, and the mayor.

Violetta, our Rotarian partner, had set up stations around the school very efficiently. It was a small school so we were not spread out far from each other. Movement and communication were easily accomplished. The volunteers were very well-trained and knew their roles.

Today I was a floater and trouble shooter so this role allowed me to see all phases of the operation. The process worked so well we were able to obtain our goal of 600 bedkit deliveries in a little over 3 1/2 hours.

The children were so happy and many parents expressed their thanks both verbally and by big hugs. The smiles and the hugs always seem to make the sweat and the tiredness very worthwhile.

Violetta invited us to her home in Nandismo for a beautiful lunch and social time. Then we drove a kilometre away to a very beautiful lagoon surrounded by mountains and several volcanos. One of them was blowing smoke. Something we don't see very often except in Nicaragua.

On the way home on the bus, the team decided to honour two of our Nicaraguan counterparts, Franz and Ameila, by inviting them to our little club. A humourous induction took place and they graciously accepted our invitation. We soon arrived home tired but happy.

Hot showers were earned by everyone, after all it was another rewarding day for all concerned!

Jack Diverty
for Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Nicaragua: San José de Los Remates

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
Yesterday was very tiring but extremely rewarding. After an amazing two-hour journey through the beautiful Nicaraguan mountains, we arrived at the old Spanish town of San José de Los Remates. What an unexpected oasis: interlocking brick streets, colourful tiled entrances, verandas ornamented with intricate grill work, freshly painted homes, and lush gardens. It was obvious they had prepared their town for visitors.

We were greeted by Eryn, a Peace Corp worker from the States, who was extremely helpful with translations and dealings with the town folk. The mayor herself had prepared the volunteers well, making our delivery smooth. Unfortunately, one of the buses delivering the children had a minor collision and the distribution was delayed for quite some time while we waited for those children to arrive. We delivered 500 kits to children from 13 schools.

Entertainment by several little tots, who had just returned from winning a folk dance championship was really special and throughout the day the children were led in pinata games. It was an extremely energizing experience. At the end of the distribution we were each given woven baskets of oranges and lots of hugs.

Great fun!

Jacquie Diverty
for Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Nicaragua: Another successful day

Today, November 2nd, our destination was Dario-Matagalpa, 70 kilometres north of Managua to distribute 429 Bedkits to their children.
From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
The Managua team of young Rotarac volunteers and Mr. Williams promptly arrived as scheduled. We passed through mountains and lush fields in different shades of green. The rains that fell in the last few nights brought this amazingly picturesques scenery. We arrived at the distribution site where all the children, their moms, grandmoms, teachers, and volunteers waited for us eagerly.

Ted selected the best photo site. We were so lucky today because the sun was bright and there was an open area where the route for the children was short and directly led them to the homeroom where the bedkits were kept.

My job today was to prepare the children for the photo shoot. Suzanne pulled the labels while she and I made the children sit properly and made sure their blue and white uniform from the bedkit was properly tucked in. We made them feel good and happy by blowing bubbles, tickling them with our puppets Santa and Lion, and sometimes spraying them with cool water. These brought out giggles that were hard to stop from some kids. Consequently, I feel that these kids gave us their most beautiful smiles.

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
We all agreed these children, including the ones from our previous distributions in the last six days, were mostly cheerful and very charming. They had been allowed to attend classes in whatever clothing they had before because they were so poor that only very few of them could afford the regulation white and blue uniform and black shoes. I believe that the wonderful new white and blue uniforms provided by SCAW contributed to a new feeling of self-confidence for all of these children.

The distribution was completed in no time and we got back early enough to give us time to catch up on our sleep after the long ride home last night from Yalaguina which was 220 kilometres away.

Another successful day for the Nicaragua Team!

Linda Taiabjee
for Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Nicaragua: Yaliguina

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
We travelled to the community Yaliguina which is located close to the Honduras border. We were out the door at 6 AM and drove for three and a half hours to get there. Some of the children told me they were at the school waiting for us at 7 AM.

The Rotary and Rotaract volunteers have been travelling with us on a bus to each distribution and with so much time on the bus together today, we had a great opportunity to get to know each other better.

This was definitely a poor community with very grateful children who received bedkits. As I was seating one of the children for the picture, she grabbed my hands and with a wonderfully bright smile said "Thank you for the package!"

So much excitement and gratitude for this small gift! We again were offered clear proof of how important all of this work is!

We arrived home at 10 PM after a very long and fulfilling day!

Suzanne Dobinson
for Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Nicaragua: Sabanagrande

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
At 8 AM this morning our air-conditioned bus pulled into the gated school yard in Sabanagrande. Prior to the first photo being taken at 9:10 AM, the children and our team were musically entertained by a local adult band and dancers in blue and white traditional dress.

Our team switches responsibilities daily. Today it was my turn to record the number of children receiving a bedkit after their label/photo was taken: 50 groups of 3, 10 groups of 4, 2 groups of 5, then individuals ... total 504.

From distribution day to today we have passed an honourary rock (Keeper of the Count) to the master of this position to ensure daily accuracy. Oh ... the rock also acts as a paper-weight in case the kids accidently bump the table or a welcomed breeze pops up. My count was off briefly when a child excitedly passed my spot and was brought back from around the corner with label in hand.

As you can see, our team is having fun!

Linda Lesage
for Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Nicaragua: Day Three

Today, I had both the privilege and pleasure of handing out the bedkits.
From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
This is what I came for and the children did not let me down.

The team and volunteers handed out 375 bedkits to 375 lovable children, and I had the distinct honour of hugging each and every child. It felt as if my very own grandchildren were hugging me back. What a feeling! Such love and thanks.

The men carrying the bedkits for the children worked very hard as they had to walk around the building. It was a hot day and the humidity was high. Sweat flowed and they took very few breaks. They too should be recognized for their service.

An especially poignant moment occurred midway through the distribution: an older gentlemen, I estimate in his 60's, was working as one of the "porters." He stood out for me because he was with a group of younger men. When he returned to pick up his next load and child, he turned around to see his own grandson. They embraced and after the obligatory picture they went on their way. Grandpa with the bedkit balanced on his shoulder and his other arm around his grandson. It was an unplanned moment that happened strictly by chance. It was special for grandpa, grandson and me, another grandpa, who just happened to be there.

What a moment!

Jack Diverty
for Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Nicaragua: Day two at Mateare

Today was our second day at Mateare.
From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
Being a familiar setting, we were able to process 375 bedkits without incident. Great job by the team! The school staff and volunteers were ready and experienced which was very helpful.

My job today was to be the floater to assist where needed and to complete three parent surveys. What an emotional roller coaster! The first survey went as expected but the last two were difficult. The poverty is unbelievable and unbearable at times. This was a difficult assignment but oh so rewarding in many ways. The responses to the questions showed a great need. Both of these mothers were incredibly grateful for our help and praised God and SCAW for their support. In each case, some of the bedkit items were articles that were recently requested by the school and the parents had no money to respond. So they were so appreciative of our donor's generosity.

The mayor and the principal of the school were extremely grateful of our support and to show their appreciation provided lunch for us at a local restaurant.

A great second day!

Jacquie Diverty
for Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Nicaragua: Mateare

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
The distribution went well until we had more children than labels. However, we met the challenge!

Ted had brought extra labels for tomorrow, which is also in Mateare. It was amazing. We thought that he might have been guided somehow, and right away, we thought of Murray Dryden telling his subconscious that we will need these labels.

Murray is making sure all challenges are met to make the children happy. The children were changed and lined-up and we did not have the heart to tell them to return tomorrow.

So, all is well that ends well.

Being the first day, we felt exhausted but happy. Tomorrow will be another day and we are looking forward to it.

Linda Taiabjee
for Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Bangladesh 2009 Slideshow

Bangladesh Lions: Final distribution

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
Today marked our final distribution – 4,000 bedkits in five days!

After our daily “commute” of several hours out into the boonies we arrived at a small rural school. Because the grounds were so confined, our whole day was supervised by the entire village population. People here are incredibly friendly and most curious about strangers.

The distribution went very smoothly and we had ample time to play with the children: they love singing … and Frisbee. Sue is a kid-magnet and was constantly surrounded by cheerful little bodies. And speaking of little bodies …. the bedkits in Bangladesh contain a second set of clothing and so they are sized “2”, “3,” and “4” with four being the smallest size ... By far the greatest number of bags were fours. So many of the children are frail as little birds.

We even had time to visit the village home of a little girl who received a bedkit today. Her family of four adults and three children all share a two-room cinder-block and corrugated-metal home about 12x15 feet. Cooking is done in a bamboo and tarpaulin enclosure outside. The adults have thin mattresses on a wooden frame while children sleep on the cement floor. The little girl should be able to sleep better tonight – we know we will.

But first it’s out for dinner at the home of our gracious hosts.

The Lions Bangladesh Team
— tired but very content.

Leave your comments here.

Bangladesh Rotary: Barisal Day 7 & Finished

This blog is from my Blackberry since we will be late tonight before back. Pictures to follow when back.
From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
We are done!
  • Fun is: a final distribution in a village with interaction with parents and community,
  • Fun is: lunch prepared and served in the village,
  • Fun is: visiting different homes in this impoverished village,
  • Fun is: seeing the smiles as the kids received their bedkit,
  • Fun is: holding a seven month baby from the village,
  • Fun is: eating with our hands. Fun is: five types of fish for lunch,
  • Fun is: watching the kids roll a 'chaka' (stiffened old bicycle tire) around the village,
  • Fun is: fresh coconut water during the distribution,
  • Fun is: blowing bubbles with the kids,
  • Fun is: the 'street tea' break on the four trip to the distribution site,
  • Fun is: visiting a gypsy encampment at tea break,
  • Fun is: a great team of SCAW and Rotary volunteers,
  • Fun is: 5000 happy kids.,

Joan, Susan, Eileen, John and Doug
from the Rotary Bangladesh Team.

Leave your comments here.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Nicaragua: Managua

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
We made it safely to Managua. After getting to our home host, having a team meeting and getting settled in our rooms, as with
most SCAW teams, we were more than ready for bed!

It was wonderful to be invited to the Rotary Club meeting on our first day so that we could meet the group of people who have taken so much of their energy to organize each day of the distribution. What a fabulous group of dedicated volunteers!

One of the volunteers. Grecko, made sure we didn't have too much down time as he brought over a couple of bedkits for us to work with in organizing our days to come.

Staying at Franz and Martha's B&B comes with great priviledges as Franz drove us to the local market so we could buy groceries to make our own dinners. We are all set for work and food for the next few days!

Stay tuned for tomorrow!

Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Bangladesh Rotary: Jessore

Our day started at 6:15 AM in the city of Jessore with Namaz the calling from the Mosque (Zam Azan).
From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
One of our Rotary partners invited a group of us to experience a true Bangladesh breakfast -- his favourite when in Jessore. We walked down narrow uninhabited streets that early in the morniing to reach this inviting restaurant.

Upon entering the retaurant, which had a capacity of ten, we were greeted openly and offered Luchi and Dahl. After breakfast we had sondesh (sweets): one made with cooked condensed milk (malai) and the other made with date juice. We couldn't believe that no sugar had been added to make either of these desserts.

Doug was able to get some true pictures of how our breakfast was being prepared. After breakfast, we walked down another street to have our "Street Tea" made with cow's milk and raw tea. The total cost for our breakfast for the ten of us, including the tea, was $6.50. What a true fun Bangladesh experience!

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
Our distribution began hours later, with 604 bedkits being distributed to very needy children from the outlying countryside of Jessore. This was the first time that a SCAW Bangladesh team had travelled to outlying areas for a total of three days with two overnights to reach first time distribution sites. It has been an exhausting but well worth it experience and we have certainly recognized a true need for these areas to be reached.

Our fun times continue to be with the children and parents.
From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
Our bubble experience reached its peak today with some outstanding photos. Visting Jessore has been a back-in-time experience for all of us. We witnessed virtually no automobiles on the roads. All transportation is either by foot, rickshaw, bicycle, scooter, motocycle, or ricksvan. Early morning traffic is busy and by the evening rush hour it is total traffic congestion.

We are all looking forward to to the last leg of our distribution at Barisal. A four-hour road trip to reach our distribution site with 599 bedkits and then another seven hours by water and road to make it back to Dhaka, our home base.

Mike Foster
for Rotary Team Bangladesh

Leave your comments here.

Bangladesh Lions: Day 4, Shibpur

Our distribution today was two hours east of Dhaka in a small rural village of Shibpur.

It was in a large school yard. Excitement was everywhere: lots of kids, lots of people, lots of chatter as we arrived and set up. All the children left with big smiles and a bedkit on their heads. Some of them were heading into the jungle.

Fun of the day included Sue racing a five-year-old boy across the yard and Richard playing Frisbee.

More fun of the day: at supper Sue opened up her cheeseburger to find cheese and no meat -– it was Literally a cheese burger.

The Lions Bangladesh Team

Leave your comments here.

Nicaragua: The team has arrived

From Nicaragua 2009 Photo Album
SCAW Team Nicaragua has arrived safely in Managua. Everyone is feeling fine and looking forward to meeting the Club de Rotario Managua team tomorrow morning, and having our pre-distribution meeting.

We will file a report tomorrow on our meeting and plans for the upcoming distrbutions.

Talk with everyone soon.

Team Nicaragua

Leave your comments here.

Nicaragua: Leave your comments here

To add your own comment, enter it in the box at the bottom of this page. Then click on the button to "Post Comment."

As a courtesy, please include your name at the end of your comment or click on "Select profile ,,," and fill in your name by selecting "Name/URL" there.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Bangladesh Lions: Third distribution, Belabo

After a day off and our rickshaw adventure, the Lions Team set out for their third distribution.
From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
The drive to Belabo was slightly more then two hours with one photo op when we had to wait for the other van to catch up.

We passed through the usual village market places but also saw more signs of manufacturing, e.g., teak furniture, and newer factories: one spinning, one weaving, and one knitting all side by side.

When we entered the school area which was our bedkit distribution site we were greeted by clapping and cheering by all the children and parents. We quickly set up and got underway. The children as usual were extremely patient and well behaved. A lot of interaction with the ball being volleyed back and forth while the kids were lined up waiting for their photo. The children who attended the school also provided entertainment with their marching drills. The bubbles continued to delight the kids and helped them to relax.

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
The distribution went off without a hitch and afterwards we strolled through the fields and saw an olive tree, banana tree and saw up close how their winter crops were grown. The children wanted to practise their English phrases so we had a great time chatting with them.

Another 800 kids went home very happy tonight and we have two more distributions to go!

The Bangladesh Lions Team

Leave your comments here.

Bangladesh Rotary: Western Bangladesh

This was the first day of the new SCAW Rotary team's three-day western Bangladesh loop.

Our 660 bedkit distribution today was in the rural area of the Padma region and this area and south is the bread basket of the country. There are rice fields, sugar cane, vegetable gardening, orchards and banana plantations everywhere.

Today we saw a new vehicle called a nasimeon which is a modified rickshaw van with a diesel engine and was the all-purpose vehicle in this region hauling almost anything you can imagine including bedkits, kids, and parents home today (Picture to follow but no internet access in Jessore).

Fun was the new faces of Bangladesh -- today and every day (More pictures coming). Fun is the fun this team is having with the kids and the Bangladesh experience.

Fun is heading from our hotel in Jessore to the Rotary Hospital in a convoy of rickshaws and with the great majority of traffic in this city powered by legs it was eerily quiet riding through dark streets. The hospital is a charity project owned and run by the Rotary Club of Jessore and was not fun. We were able to tour it tonight and it was clear they try hard but have little money or equipment so the message tonight was: if you are poor don't get sick. Any help including some medical supplies our team brought is very much needed.

Tomorrow is the big day for me doing a distribution in Jessore, the same city my Dad was stationed at in WWII and a tour to follow including the airstrip he flew out of.

Doug MacDougald
for Rotary Team Bangladesh

Leave your comments here.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Bangladesh Rotary: Day 4, Uttara

Having Fun in Bangladesh:
From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
  • Fun is: a civilized start sleeping in until 6:30.
  • Fun is: trying literally dozens of new foods, some very hot.
  • Fun is: today, during line ups, teaching the kids to do high five's. Most really got into it.
  • Fun is: getting to know our Rotary and Rotaract (youth) volunteers.
  • Fun is: a visit to the Sea Breeze International School which is affiliated with Cambridge University. We toured and visited several classes. This school is run by Samiah Zaman wife of Khaliq, the current Rotary president, who has spent countless hours working on this distribution.
  • Fun is: today's distribution outside in a clean courtyard under three huge locust trees.
  • Fun is: having 70 pre-schoolers at Seabreeze sing Jingle Bells (all verses). Real big fun!
  • Fun is: for me, the personal contact with every child: playing a silly game, giving a reassuring hug, or just walking five steps hand in hand.
  • Fun is: discussion with the Rotary president Khaliq, who hopes to find a way to to get kids from the nomadic hill tribes to receive a SCAW bedkit.
  • Fun is: thinking about sharing this experience with groups back home.
  • Fun is: trying to remember the most precious smile I've seen so far -- totally impossible -- but great fun trying.
  • Fun is: anticipating the next three days as we travel 800 km through the rural areas and back.
John Cockburn
for Rotary Team Bangladesh

Leave your comments here.

Bangladesh Lions & Rotary: Rickshaw adventure

Sunday night became for both teams the Adventures of Doug and Mike.

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
Doug had arranged for six rickshaws to pick us up at the hotel and take us to a restaurant. The ride down made us feel like we were the local entertainment. Rickshaws are built for two but not really for two Canadian butts.

We ended up on the second floor of the restaurant and left the ordering of food to Doug. We had rice, nam, lobster, prawns, chicken, mutton, and lime/onion salad. Doug was disappointed as they were out of goat brains. This restaurant was very popular and reminded us of Swiss Chalet back home.

Doug took some photos of us and then taught the waiter to take photos of the group. We were quite a spectacle. When it was all over and done with the meal cost us $ 40 for twelve of us.

To get home again we went by rickshaw again … word must have got out that we were there as they restaurant was surrounded by rickshaws. The cost of the ride was 120 TAKA. That works out to be about $ 1.50 for all twelve of us.

Team Rotary left at 5:30 AM this morning and is staying overnight out in the countryside.

Team Lions is off to Belabo today.

Leave your comments here.

Bangladesh Lions: Rest Day

There is one thing about being on a SCAW trip … every day just keeps getting better!

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
Our first two distributions went off really well. Right down to the exact number even in chaotic circumstance’s with zigzag deliveries. We’ve taken a ton of photos and are coming up with a top ten list of pics.

Today we spent with Mr. Hadi and his wife as they showed us their factory. Even though today was their day off, workers came in and showed us how they operate. The fabrics and designs that come out of the Shoppe are truly amazing and unique. We felt that they were very honored that we would come visit them.

We also went to his store and made some purchases for people back home. The great purses, ties, and jewelry were impressive but more impressive was the way the women shop for a sari. There are many fabrics folded on a wall and about 8 to 10 men show the fabric to the women who sit on stools and drink great coffee. The men even model the fabrics for you. Some saris can even cost up to $ 1500 each!

Later in the day we went out to the market to be greeted by everyone. The market has a great selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. Alongside are live chickens and dozens of eggs. Everyone wants his or her photo taken. The relationship between Bangladesh and a Canadian person is tremendous. We feel very safe here and are enjoying each other’s company.

The Bangladesh Lions Team

Leave your comments here.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Bangladesh Rotary: Feni

We left at 6 AM for a four hour trip to Feni on the east side of the country and close to the Indian border. We saw the same description of the countryside as the Lions Team: lush countryside full of rice fields, fish ponds, and vegetable plots. What a breadbasket — and it needs to be, with 165 million people to feed.

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
806 bedkits today and a three-day total of 3006. Whew!

It will be a short day tomorrow with some time to catch our breath in the afternoon.

The emotional moment of the day was one school bringing 34 blind kids and it was just heart-breaking. We just took our time and cared for them as best we could in the short time we were in their lives. John was handing out the bedkits and made sure that each child was able to feel the bedkit before a helper whisked it off to the bus for the ride home. Another school insisted to the Rotary organizers that a five-hour bus ride from the most southern tip of Bangladesh was worth it for 25 of their poor children to receive a bedkit. They left for their five-hour ride home already tired but very happy.

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
So, to continue the theme of 'fun for all,' Mike showed the kids what snow was like using snow crystals we traded Sue Orr, of the Lions Team, some bubbles for. The picture says it all.

Doug took a turn at driving the bicycle rickshaw van that was delivering bagged lunches for the kids. This was quite amusing to the parents and other community people gathered around.

And lastly it remains quite a challenge to get the kids to smile for the picture so we started to get them to clap or wave which of course elicited big smiles -- but when it came time to take the picture it was back to being serious again. The kids waiting in the line watching this came in for their turn clapping and waving and we couldn't get them to stop for the photo.

Hmmm...are we trying the wrong approach?

Team Rotary Bangladesh

Leave your comments here.

Bangladesh Lions: Second Distribution

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
What a busy and fascinating day.

Out again into the countryside along single lane dikes to a waterside school. The children were delightful and quick to respond to any songs and games. They were full of smiles and of course when we saw them later very confident around the water.

Distribution pictures show local boats in the background and it was amazing to watch these boats being happily loaded with newly received bedkits. Much to the delight of the local people and ourselves we were taken on a breathtaking trip on one of these boats by a local resident.

The perfect end to a perfect day that saw another 800 children sleeping more comfortably tonight.

The Bangladesh Lions Team

Leave your comments here.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Bangladesh Lions: First distribution

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
Today was our first distribution: 13 hours including driving!

North from the noise and confusion of Dhaka, out to rural Bangladesh. Endless miles of rice fields, dikes, and fish ponds, where seemingly nowhere is more than 12 inches above the water line.

We handed out 800 bedkits to peasant farmers’ children who rarely see a stranger: 800 children who looked wonderful in their new outfits; 800 children who had their first interaction with Canadians; 800 children who will sleep more comfortably tonight.

A long day but a joyful start to our distribution.

The Bangladesh Lions Team

Leave your comments here.

Bangladesh Rotary: Fun for all

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
Fun for all involved in a distibution is the developing theme for this new team after our second distribution in the city of Dhaka.

Hey, it was a very busy day with 1229 bedkits to 1229 kids - and our first two days with 2200 bedkits. Yikes, this is trial by fire with an 11-hour time change but everyone is good.

Anyway, Joan mentioned in yesterday's blog blowing bubbles with the kids and this looks likely to be a daily event with the kids and parents (and passing rickshaw drivers) loving it.

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
Some new photos show the fun in such a simple thing with Eileen leading the bubble charge today. Hanging out with the boys is fun; teaching them how to thumbfight (and how to shake hands with a firm grip at the same time); high and low fives and even if we can't understand each other guys can still trash talk and have such a good time.

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
And of course there are the five guys that manhandled the 2200 bedkits in a tight little courtyard and small rooms the last two days. Small but strong - so of course we need to have an arm wrestle if for no other reason than it is fun for the participants and all the spectators. Just in case you are wondering, it was a draw!

And of course the photos show - kids and parents (and passing rickshaw driver) love to have their picture taken and laugh and shout about how they look.

All good and all fun,

Doug MacDougald
for Team Rotary Bangladesh

Leave your comments here.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Bangladesh Rotary: Our first day

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
In the beginning, the children's reactions as they entered the small community centre were mixed. Some were fearful, some were shy, and others had an expression of eager anticipation.

All were quiet and well-behaved which is amazing when you consider that some had been transported in an old bus over a distance of 24 km on crowded roads with the temperature at 9 am already 30 degrees. The trip took some of them at least 2 hours. The small bus was packed with at least 35 children all wondering what was to happen.

On arrival they changed into their new clothes in a small crowded unlit classroom, lined up, and waited politely.

From Bangladesh 2009 Photo Album
One of our volunteers opened up a bottle of bubble liquid and showed the children how to blow bubbles while they waited to have their photo taken. Expressions of fascination and puzzlement flitted across their faces as they watched their bubbles float away.

After their photo was taken their expressions turned to ones of excitement and awe as they were handed their own brand new bedkits. One volunteer tried to assist a little girl by carrying her bedkit. Her expression turned to one of fear. She thought that he was taking it away from her and she clung tightly to it. After quietly explaining th her he was going to help her and that the bedkit was really truly hers, the happy excited glow on her face returned.

Tonight there are 971 children with excited glowing faces who will be sleeping in comfort for the first time in their lives. No more dirt floors to sleep on thanks to all those people who gave so generously.

Joan Hryniw
for Team Rotary Bangladesh

Leave your comments here.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Bangladesh: The teams have arrived

The two teams arrived in Dhaka this morning with an eleven-hour time change, 30° C temperature, and a very warm welcome from Mr's Masud and Kaliq of the Rotary Club and Mr Hadi of the Lions Club.

We brought eleven "extra" hockey bags full of medical supplies and soccer balls to leave with the overseas volunteers. We will spend the rest of the day gettings settled in, have a team meeting/planning session and meet with the overseas organizations to review the bedkit, itinerary, and logistics ... and get a good nights rest.

Names on the attached picture are (From L to R): Sue Orr, Doug MacDougald, Judy Snobelen, Pat Tuddenham, Mr Hadi (Lions Club), Eileen Cockburn, Brian Tuddenham, Joan Hryniw, John Cockburn, Lita Fearon, Mr Masud (Rotary Club), Susan Sheen, Mike Foster, Mr Kaliq (Rotary Club), and Richard Hryniw.

Teams Bangladesh 2009

There was a report in the Stratford Beacon Herald today about this trip.

Leave your comments here.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Bangladesh: The teams are off.

Current Weather:Click for Dhaka, Bangladesh Forecast
Email received Monday evening from Doug MacDougald's BlackBerry:
"The two Bangladesh teams are boarding right now and looking ahead to Dhaka in about 28 hours to be ready to hit the ground running to distribute 9,000 bedkits in less than two weeks.

We are ready, and why not? We are led by the intrepid Hryniw's.

Teams Bangladesh 2009"
Leave your comments here.