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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Nicaragua: Leave your comments here

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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"
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Sunday, 18 October 2009

Bangladesh: Leave your comments here

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Monday, 12 October 2009

Three More Countries in 2009

Sleeping Children Around the World is sending out three four more teams before the end of 2009, the Year of the Millionth Bedkit.

Bangladesh Distributions
For the first time, the distributions to Bangladesh will be handled by two separate teams instead of one team. The two teams, Bangladesh Lions 2009 and Bangladesh Rotary 2009 met at 28 Pinehurst (Sleeping Children headquarters) last week to prepare for their distributions at the end of the month.

Pictured at right in the top photo is the Bangladesh Rotary 2009 team (Left to right): Mike Foster, Joan Hryniw (Team Leader), Doug MacDougald (Leader Designate), Eileen Cockburn, Susan Sheen, John Cockburn.

The bottom photo shows the Bangladesh Lions 2009 team (Left to right): Sue Orr, Richard Hryniw (Team Leader), Pat Tuddenham (Leader Designate), Lita Fearon, Brian Tuddenham (Leader Designate), Judy Snobelen.

Nicaragua Distribution
Also at the end of October, a team leaves for Nicaragua. They'll be getting together at SCAW headquarters later this week.

Philippines Emergency Distribution
Our last trip this year 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.

A SCAW team will be distributing 4,000 bedkits at the end of November. This means that, if you still wish to have bedkits delivered for Christmas gifts, we can receive information till the end of October and you should receive the gifts in time for December 25th.