Monday, 31 October 2011

Honduras: The Model School

Day 7

Today there was a chill in the air and grey skies, but it is not the 4°C temperature that I heard Toronto has had in the last little while. We have been spoilt with glorious days of sunshine.

From Honduras 2011

A young woman helping from the First Lady's Healthy Schools programme today wore layers and gloves. We wondered how she would handle a Canadian February.

We spent today's distribution of 680 bedkits at the Escuela Cerro Grande not too far away. Twenty-five schools came through for this second last day of our distribution. We are close to our target of 5,000 having reached 4,526.

The days have literally whizzed by. Donald, one of our Rotarian partners, is a wealth of information. A day hasn't gone by when I haven't learned something new.

From Honduras 2011

Apparently Cerro Grande is a model school of 800 students being that it includes a computer lab and a well-established garden that also has 300 tyres used for growing vegetables. Tables were stacked with cabbages and carrots for sale at the entrance.

The school in the morning -- from 7:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. -- is an elementary one. In the afternoon -- from 12:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. -- it is used as a High School. It is always a pleasure to meet our Rotarian partners each day and have the opportunity to get to know them more, what they do, and find out about their lives. There are some great cooks among the women as evidenced by the lovely lunches provided this past while.

We've all gotten into a smooth pattern of working in the varied areas involved in a distribution. I was pulling labels of our donors after children were photographed for these 680 bedkits. I especially love mingling, playing, and having great fun with the children. They are like little sponges. Their giggles, joyfulness, and sense of humour is contagious.

From Honduras 2011

They do so like being entertained with high fives, puppets, bubbles, balls, and plain old silliness. The spontaneity is a breath of fresh air. We tidy up hair that needs it, straighten out clothes, tuck in sleeves, and draw out sonrias (smiles) for the camera shoot. It is great to have a serious looking child break out in a smile.

Mid morning Irene and I were briefly interviewed for Channel 42 news. My question was centred around what a bedkit means for the child and family. A brief response was that this simple gift can make life a little easier and give some relief for them in what is otherwise difficult and challenging living conditions. A mother told us of how her boy had never received a gift, and the thrill of receiving this.

From Honduras 2011

Mid afternoon Ramon, the president of our Rotary group, drove us to buy Honduran souvenirs to the Valle de Angeles (Valley of Angels) about an hour in rush hour from the city. The area is full of artisan shops, but being a Monday it was not busy.

We had an evening meeting with the Rotarian Committee members for a post-distribution assessment, and suggestions. Each of our team had the opportunity to speak on a specific angle pertaining to the distribution - a summary of the parent interviews, the importance of home visits and the mattress factory tour, and special thanks to every one of the parties involved in the distributions. The evening concluded with another scrumptuous meal hosted by one of our great Rotarian members and his wife.

Jan Fine
for the Honduras 2011 Travelling Team

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Sunday, 30 October 2011

Bangladesh: Dhaka Final Distribution

Site 10 Dhaka “Final Distribution Day”

We began our day with breakfast in the courtyard of the hotel. then headed out to a tea garden where we visited Bisamil village located in M.R. Khan Tea Estate where twenty children from yesterday's distribution live.

From Bangladesh 2011

They were waiting for us with wonderful smiles and expressed thanks for a good night’s sleep on a new ground sheet and thick blanket. Their colourful shirts and dresses made for more good pictures.

We took a team photo with them as a reminder of our shared experiences.

Then it was back on the bus to drive to our last distribution. However, while leaving the tea estate, we had to disembark to lighten the load so that the bus could take a run through a river bed with a very soft muddy bottom.
From Bangladesh 2011

Sally Jo took a side route which ended with one very wet and muddy shoe. The children who were following laughed wildly and one offered to fetch water to clean her shoe. But the bus had to leave so the shoe never did get clean. (Good thing she had a spare pair of shoes for the afternoon.)

We arrived at a textile mill where the final distribution took place. Again the 154 children were dressed and ready for us thanks to the preparations of the Rotaractors who are junior members of the Rotary club of Dhaka. These three young men have been with us for the past ten days and their help has been invaluable in organizing the children for dressing and photo line-ups.

From Bangladesh 2011

We were excited to present the final bedkit to a young boy who was # 6,000 for this 2011 Bangladesh distribution. A final photo with all the team members and Rotarians will be a special reminder of the experiences we have shared.

We are thankful to the Rotarians, the Sleeping Children volunteers and all the donors whose contributions together will allow these children to enjoy the comfort of a good night’s sleep.

ARAME GHUMAU! (Sleep Well!)
Including the 6,000 bedkits delivered
in Bangladesh this year, our total is
now 1,184,130 bedkits since
Sleeping Children began in 1970.

The Bangladesh 2011 Team

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Honduras: Reflecting

Ater seven straight days of distributions, we were able to enjoy a day off to rejunevate and reflect on the wonderful week we have had working with the children.

From Honduras 2011

We were hosted by Fidel Velasquez, the current chairman of the SCAW project for the Rotary|Club of Teguicalpa who led us through the wondrous mountainous terrain and countryside.

We stopped at a variety of places, notably the agricultural university of Zamona which has a unique program for international students from eighteen countries. Combining half days of study with half days of working on the agricultural farms. they are well prepared for choosing specialties within their fields. Produce from vegetables to meat are sold at the campus store and we took advantage of buying refreshing ice cream, piquante Honduras sauces, and Honduras coffee.

We continued to a country farm where we were able to stroll through paths aside a variety of tropical plants of trees that allowed us to taste cilantro, munch on cinammon leaves, and see our first hummingbird nest and other wildlife.

From Honduras 2011

We were then guests of Umberto and Wilma in their country home where once again we were fed a grand luncheon of typical Honduran food and exotic fruit drinks. Ramon, present President of the Rotary Club, entertained us with an array of Spanish music often accompanied by his wife and other guests -- a great fiesta for us all.

This hospitality has been continous throughout our stay in Honduras, as we have been entertained by a varity of our Overseas Volunteer Organization [OVO] members. It provides a great opportunity to cement our fellowship with our OVOs, learn and appreciate the customs of Honduras, as well as making us aware of the challenges of preparing for a successful SCAW distribution.

From Honduras 2011

Although most of us came to Honduras as strangers, we will leave with many friendships, cemented by a fellowship that continues to assist the beautiful children of Hhonduras.

Murray Dryden's dream is alive and well.

Irene Harrison
for the Honduras 2011 Travelling Team

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Slideshow below

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Honduras: El Jazmin

It's a grey, drizzly morning as we start out for an inner city distribution. As we arrive at the Escuela Urbana Francisca Reyes in Colonia El Jazmin, the children and parents are already lined up at the gates. It's 7:15 am.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that the children's joy reminded me of kids at Christmas. Well I also realize that these distributions truly makes me feel like Santa Claus.

From Honduras 2011

We go through our pre-distribution ritual. Irene, our team leader, sights the best location for the pictures, Jim and I find anything we can to stand on to hang and proudly display the Canadian flag. Valerie, Linda, and Janet ready the bedkit for the photo and map out the logistics of the children's staging area. Fortunately today, with the rain, there is a large covered courtyard where we stage the children and take the pics. Today's distribution is 652 bedkits and as if being impoverished is not enough of a hardship, some of the children are HIV positive.

It's also a day in which we conduct interviews with the caregivers of five randomly selected children.

From Honduras 2011

This is an exercise that takes the meaning of what Sleeping Children is doing to a whole new level. The first thing you recognize is how deeply grateful the recipients' families are. Then you realize just how dire their family circumstances are and how this token, small by North American standards, has such a profound impact on the quality of that family's life. Finally you see that even though SCAW's efforts have a wonderful impact, there is so much more that can be done.

Today's interviews reveal a heartbreaking story of a young recipient, whose father was murdered, whose mother abandoned her at the age of two months, who has become paralyzed from the waist down as the result of a bad surgical procedure and whose principle caregiver is her 72-year-old grandmother who wheels her two kilometres daily to and from school.

From Honduras 2011

Although the girl did not start school until the age of eight, the grandmother is very proud of her granddaughter as she is a very good student. She hopes that she will be able to complete the sixth grade and has dreams that she can continue to go on to senior school. It is obvious that the basic necessities of life are not met in this family. She wishes that the bedkit had come with food in it as well. In spite of all of the hardships she and her granddaughter face, she is extremely grateful and thanks God and the SCAW donors for thinking of her granddaughter.

It is truly amazing the impact $35 can have.

Ken and Valerie Teslia
for the Honduras 2011 Travelling Team

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Slideshow below

Bangladesh: Home Visit

Well, we had another action-packed day with an early start walking through the Lawachara eco-forest in the tea plantation area of Srimangal, which is in the northeast corner of Bangladesh.

From Bangladesh 2011

The walk ended in the tribal village of Khasia Prinji with a home visit to two families whose kids had received bedkits last year. This village has about 130 people whose main source of income is the harvesting of the Beetle leaf (pan), which grows wild in the forest.

The first family lived in a mud hut with a bed for the mother, father, and newborn baby while the boy who received the bedkit and his younger brother slept on a groundsheet on the floor.

The second family lived in a very crooked wood-clad home. The girl who had received the bedkit was there with her five siblings. Their parents were away working. All the bedkit items that we saw were being well used and have remained quite functional.
From Bangladesh 2011

We had breakfast in the village and then visited the school where about thirty students treated us to a songfest. There were no shrinking violets in the group – boy, could they belt out a song!

On the way back through the eco-forest we went to the next village of Dolugram Tipperah. This village has a population of about 150 people and is primarily Hindu. They are part of a weaving initiative driven by one of the Rotarians and aimed at diversifying their income – and it is working. The product is sold in Dhaka markets and on-site with this attracting some Bangladeshi tourist trade.

We also saw our first pig in Bangladesh … quite a specimen. Isn't it? Then we
ran into what must have been the village medicine man who was smoking a large pipe and was immensely pleased to have a crowd gather – and of course Mike tried the pipe on for size. Check out the photos below!
From Bangladesh 2011

Kids are kids – we found three boys playing in their makeshift ‘fort’ and having a great time taunting us from the safety of it!

The girl who received the bedkit in this village had a home that was also built from mud and she was making good use of the items. Her mother told us that all the items were essential – and gave us a big thank you.

We then did the Srimangal distribution of 451, played lots with the kids, and had a wonderful barbeque dinner in the hotel courtyard as we were entertained by a tribal troupe of dancers.

We still have a small final distribution tomorrow and a long day of travel so I am off to bed.

We will blog tomorrow on our final distribution day and completion of 6,000 bedkits to 6,000 wonderful children of Bangladesh.

Doug MacDougald
for Bangladesh Team 2011

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Slideshow below.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Honduras: Day 5

Today, we completed our fifth day of distributions successfully yet again. There are many factors that contribute to a satisfying distribution making every one involved happy after a hard days work.
  • A perfect sunny day and blue sky (despite predictions of rain).
  • A perfectly co-ordinated SCAW Team.
  • From Honduras 2011
  • Dedicated Rotarians and their spouses especially Fidel, the SCAW Project leader, who are with us every day.
  • A group of young people who belong to the First Lady's Team for the betterment of the Honduras community under the leadership of Miguel who is simply wonderful with the children.
  • Today, a group of students from the College of Dentistry (Pictured above.) some of whom helped us communicate with the children better.
  • The military in their full regalia to control the crowd so as not to disrupt the procedures.
  • The teachers on site, with their silent admiration for the SCAW dream.
  • Our driver, Ceasar, who patiently and skillfully delivered us to the different sites on time.
From Honduras 2011

The distribution site was located in the Francisco Morazan elementary school, about 35 km from the city. We gave out 636 bedkits to children from seventeen different schools. The children were brought in trucks, buses, bicycles, etc. from as far away as 25 km. The children were beautiful and shy but delighted as they received their bedkits. (Click graphic to see video.)

As our team went about the whole procedure of distribution to each and every child listed, we were very much aware of the opportunity to serve these children with love.

Thank you donors.

Linda Taiabjee
for the Honduras 2011 Travelling Team

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Slideshow below

Bangladesh: A Special Distribution

Well, as promised, today was special with the bedkits in memoriam of Mari Peterson giving us an opportunity for the kids to have different poses for their photos.

From Bangladesh 2011

They clapped, gave thumbs up, blew kisses, clapped, and opened their arms wide as they shouted “Mari” – everyone had fun with an emotional day!

We also continued to have fun with the all 861 kids gathered at this ancestral home of Gulru with the kids all seeing and participating in the bubbles, Frisbees and the excitement of the photo area.

From Bangladesh 2011

The children receiving the bedkits are all sponsored by local Rotarians who are responsible for selecting the boys and girls according to Sleeping Children guidelines. They arrange transportation to the distribution site as well as food and water since some of the children travel some distance over poor roads from their home villages. Today’s group included some from the local village plus many more from an orphanage funded by one of the Rotarians and his extended family. These children may have a parent but the house conditions are so poor they cannot be fed or go to school.

Tomorrow we do some home visits to families that received bedkits last year – always a special time for the team.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog on these visits.

Team Bangladesh 2011

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Slideshow below.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Honduras: Colonia Santa Eduviges

We rise early to prepare for our journey to Colonia Santa Eduviges and a distribution of 870 bedkits at Escuela Alfonso Guillen Zelaya.

From Honduras 2011

We collect in the hotel Lobby at 6:30 a.m. We board our ride and begin our thirty-minute journey to the outskirts of Tegucigalpa and the waiting children.

Every morning starts out somewhat similarly. We roll into the vehicles that will carry us to our ultimate destination -- where we experience a tremendously uplifting feeling -- a feeling that one experiences watching pure joy envelope the young children that we distribute the bedkits to. It reminds me so much of watching our daughters on Christmas morning, when they still believed in Santa Claus.

From Honduras 2011

Our ride is filled with banter from the previous days experience: What was the most striking and heart wrenching story from the previous day? Was it the class of young students that had to begin their journey at 1 a.m. to arrive for an 8 a.m. distribution? On the ride home they were totally giddy after an excruciatingly long day because they would not have to sleep in cardboard boxes that night
Santa Eduviges today was so much more of the same: the smiles and laughter of young children and the anticipation of receiving a gift of something that they have never had before in their lives. It warms your heart and makes you wish that you could do so much more.

From Honduras 2011

As always, the Rotarians and the First Lady's troupe of assistants are there to make, what seems like an overwhelming task for six people, very organized and efficient. Most importantly it allows us to spend more face time with the children, really enjoying the fruits of the generosity of all of the donors to SCAW.

Ken Teslia
for the Honduras 2011 Travelling Team

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View all the photos in our photo album

Bangladesh: A Great Day and a Special Tomorrow

Today’s distribution in Dhaka for 1,000 children was at the bedkit warehouse site that was used for the first time last week at our first distribution for a smaller group and which did not work very well. The Rotarians and Sleeping Children team made several changes to ensure this day went smoothly – and it worked perfectly!

From Bangladesh 2011

700 children came by bus from as far away as 100 km; a journey that took four hours crowded in very old busses. They were organized at a park two blocks away and then marched to this warehouse distribution site with the help of uniformed officials who blocked traffic for their safety.

We marvel at the Rotarians’ ability to make arrangements as needed to fulfill the promise to donors that we will deliver 100% of their generosity for the children.

All of the boys and girls were excited to receive their gifts and today’s experiences will bring lasting memories for them and their families – and, of course, it was accompanied by playing, bubbles galore, and lots of fun as the kids had their pictures taken.

From Bangladesh 2011

Tomorrow’s distribution will be highlighted by the sharing of “in memoriam” bedkits for Mari Peterson who along with her husband Rein were to be part of the Bangladesh 2009 team. Her subsequent illness prevented that from happening.

Rein has donated bedkits with the wish they will be given to children from one area and we are having this special distribution tomorrow at one of the Rotarian’s ancestral homes. Tomorrow’s distribution will be very special.

Team Bangladesh 2011

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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Honduras: Zambrano

Today is Wed Oct 26th and we travelled forty-five minutes out of Tegucigalpa into the rural region of Zambrano.

From Honduras 2011

We had a very successful morning distributing 494 bedkits. Most of the children came by bus from as far as fifty kilometers away.

After the distribution we travelled a short distance for two home visits, that were organized by the local Rotary Club. The road was very difficult to traverse — uneven, many pot holes and back in Canada you would think of it as impassable. The first home we visited consisted of three rooms, each approximately nine square meters, at most. A family of six lives in this small area. The home was made of concrete blocks with no windows and a single light bulb hanging in the main room.

From Honduras 2011

One room was for sleeping, one as a living room (at night it is used for sleeping), and the third was a eating/kitchen area. The home also had an outdoor oven and a small garden. One of the little girls who lived in the home received a bedkit in the morning. She will now have a mattress, pillow, bed sheet, and blanket to sleep on tonight. It is overwhelming to see the conditions these lovely people live in and how much the bedkits are needed.

We then visited another home that was a little larger, having two extra bedrooms, but nine people shared this home. Very similar to the first home, very tidy, mostly because there is no furniture or fixtures and still only one light bulb per room and concrete floors.

From Honduras 2011

As we were about to leave, we saw a boy and his father struggling up this torturous road on their way home. Attached to the rear of the father's bicycle was the boys bedkit from this morning. I have included this scene as one of our pics from today ... big smiles from the boy and father!!

Tonight we will be attending a Rotary Club meeting where SCAW will be the focus of the meeting. I am looking forward to meeting their oldest active member who is 101!

Valerie Teslia
for the Honduras 2011 Travelling Team

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Bangladesh: Day off in Dhaka

After an eighteen-hour drive yesterday which included a successful distribution of 1,139 bedkits and a late night ferry ride, we arrived back at the hotel for a well deserved sleep.

From Bangladesh 2011

So today, on our day of leisure, we decided to tour Dhaka and experience more chaotic traffic. Thanks to Gulru our wonderful tour guide, to his wife, and to Rowly the Rotary chair of the Sleeping Children committee we had a wonderful time.

The modern parliament buildings contrast with the university building, Curson Hall, established in 1904. The Old Fort begun by Mogul invaders in the 17th century has a serene garden and there we enjoyed having our photos taken by school kids on a field trip. Our fair skins attract a lot of attention so we smiled happily for their cell phones, knowing that “ha so” means to smile.

From Bangladesh 2011

A visit to the New Market -- actually quite old -- helped us buy a few souvenirs and that was followed by a delicious lunch in an air conditioned Indian restaurant.

And so ended our “restful” day as we now prepare to meet another crowd of happy children tomorrow.

Sally Jo Martin
for Bangladesh Team 2011

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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Honduras: Day 2

The weather co-operated. Yes, blue skies, a perfect day for the 650 bedkits distributed in La Travesia (Colonia San Miguel) neighbourhood at the Juan Ramon Molina Escuela where children were bused in from a wide area range. Both the team of young people working on the First Lady's "Healthy Schools" project pictured below, and the our most helpful host Rotarian partners were there bright and early.

From Honduras 2011

I learned from a young man that Lempira, the Honduran currency is named after their national hero fromm 1502. We were soon on a roll, and things moved smoothly with the distribution.

I had the good fortune of handing out bedkits to the smiling, and beaming children, and just having some fun with them. It was so touching to see those faces light up from sheer joy to disbelief at being actually able to point and choose their own bedkit. Wide-eyed children showered me with hugs -- another gift in abundance -- and such gratitude is, indeed a rare gem. SO,we've established without a doubt that Spiderman bedkits rock! They elicited great thrills and enthusiasm by the boys -- not so much, and least popular were the yellow/flowery ones.

After a scrumptious lunch, compliments of Rotarian Roberto's wife, we headed off for an afternoon visit organized by Roberto who is in charge of procurement for SCAW's bedkits to the Inmeca Mattress company, the only mattress company in central Honduras. There's one more further afield in San Pedro.

From Honduras 2011

The Canadian travelling team, pictured here are (Left to right) Ken Teslia, Valerie Teslia, Linda Taiabjee, Irene Harrison (Team Leader), Jan Fine, Jim Gibson.

On the way, we sampled some tortillas being made in a little roadside shop. And, we even got a taste of what a Tegucigalpa traffic jam was like. At the thirty year old factory, Javier the manager gave us an excellent tour of how the mattresses are produced not only for SCAW, but also for the general community. Our pillows are also made here from foam. Cheaper raw materials are imported from Pakistan and China. Today, they were expecting the chemical to arrive that treats the foam. They couldn't keep up with the demand because of the recent rains that caused mildew damage to a few hundred mattresses. It's a rudimentary type of industry. The factory covers one acre of land.


  • On good days, the average of 1,000 mattresses for Sleeping Children are produced.
  • October-March is the busy time
  • 45 employees earning 6,500 lempiras a month (approximately 19-$1) are equally paid
  • The work day is 7:15-4:15 with an hour for lunch, plus they get paid for overtime
  • They do receive benefits which is insurance for government, i.e. dental,and health paid between the owner and helper
  • Vacation time is between 10 days(one year) to 20 days(5 years) a year
  • No material is wasted, scraps being used to say tie bundles
  • Also springs are made here too (metal imported from Brazil) for all sizes single to king
  • For anyone interested in purchasing a mattress you are going to pay for a full (double) one between 2,200-5,000 lempiras.

Janet Fine
for the Honduras 2011 Travelling Team

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Bangladesh: 1,139 Bedkits

Site 5: Gaurnadi, Barisal

With an early start before breakfast, we had an impromptu stop to watch the preparation and baking of tandoori bread. This led to a prolonged stop that included a delicious griddle-fried omelet, tandoori bread, and tea. Our breakfast arrangements were solved. (See photos in our photo album or in the slide show at the bottom of this post.)

From Bangladesh 2011

Two hours later we arrived for the largest distribution of our road trip: 1,139 bedkits. Some children had travelled five hours to come -- 70 kilometres!

Our location today was at a school dating back from 1893. What a joy it was to be greeted by hundreds of children when we arrived -- children who were cheering, waving, and brimming with anticipation for the day. Later in the day a group arrived adorned in paper hats inscribed with reference to Sleeping Children and the Rotary Club.

What a blast to play with a group this size by throwing frisbees and blowing bubbles. Hard to imagine the group dynamics of hundreds of children laughing and having such a great time.

After a flawless distribution and a delicious late lunch served at the school we went for a stroll in the village accompanied by several child guides.

Who could ask for a better day?

Michael Graves
for Bangladesh Team 2011

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Monday, 24 October 2011

Honduras: First Distribution

Today's distribution took place in the Kennedy neighbourhood of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.

Before we began, we were seranaded by a small choir of young children who sang a couple of songs with help from their teacher. A great start to the day.

Over 600 bedkits were distributed to children bussed in from several school districts. The distribution ran very smoothly and we were helped by enthusiastic volunteers from the Rotary Club of Tegucigalpa and volunteers from the Healthy Schools project (a department of the government headed by the First Lady of Honduras).

Very recently Honduras has been hit by very heavy rains (it is the rainy season) which has caused severe flooding and damage to many homes and roads. The bedkits were certainly welcomed.

Today, however, we were very fortunate as it was warm and sunny during the dictribution. The Hondurean children have beautiful dark eyes and hair and wonderful white smiles.

Today was a great beginning on our Hondurean journey to help deserving children get a good night's sleep.

Jim Gibson
for the Honduras 2011 Travelling Team

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Bangladesh: Madhpur Pabna

Today we were in the Pabna District in the local village of Madhpur. The distribution site was located at a Dhaka Rotarian’s ancestral home where the family also operates a hospital for the local people.

We arrived to a huge celebration. It seemed like the whole village had turned out for the festivities.

From Bangladesh 2011

The site was decorated with gala banners that might not be out of place at a wedding festival. It was like a sea of blazing colours. We had so many people looking over the walls and visiting the area to see what was happening as we prepared for the bedkit distribution.

We eventually got our bedkit and location set when a workman accidently struck a plastic water line buried three inches underground and flooded the photo area. We picked up the bedkit and moved to higher ground until a solution could be found.

From Bangladesh 2011

Meanwhile, Sally Jo Martin, Sleeping Children’s resident pied piper, entertained the children in the sweltering heat. Eventually we got underway and moved the 700 children through the process and out to their homes.

The children were smiling happily although they must have felt they had waited hours. After a reception and greetings from the local dignitaries, we had a light Bangladeshi lunch of rice and chicken and then we were on our way for a three-hour drive for a night’s stay before tomorrow’s distribution.

Tomorrow we will pass the halfway point in our trip and will have handed out over 3,000 bedkits.

George Foster
for Bangladesh Team 2011

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Sunday, 23 October 2011

Bangladesh: Isherdi

Whew! It's been four days since arriving in the early morning of last Thursday after a door-to-door twenty-seven hours of travel time. We spent the first day getting organized and getting rid of jetlag and from then on it has been rock and roll travel and distributions.

From Bangladesh 2011

Three days of travelling to the north west area of Bangladesh, four distributions, 1000 kms and twenty hours on the road and of course 1800 smiling kids with their bedkits. I am tired just writing this!

The distribution today in Isherdi was smooth and fun with the kids dressed and waiting in a large shaded area at a school. Some of the team “warmed up the crowd” with bubbles, Frisbees and Quacker the duck -- while the rest set up.

We did arrive a little late due to -- early in our travels this morning -- running out of fuel due to a faulty gauge. An hour later we were on the move after experiencing another slice of Bangladeshi life on the street: visiting roadside stands, riding rickshaw-vans, and yakking with passers-by.

From Bangladesh 2011

By late afternoon we arrived in the town we will be doing a distribution in tomorrow so we decided to go to the local street market. What a different way of feeding a town than what we know. Fresh vegetables, fish, meat, and many other products and services are available and all accompanied by a sea of people on the move just feet or in some cases inches away.

And, of course, if we stop, the crowd gathers, looking at the novelty of having big white-skinned people in their midst. Mike and I were hanging out at the front of our hotel tonight and a group of guys just materialized with it ending with me trying to teach them how to finger whistle. Fun was had by all…

Stay tuned for more daily blogs as we travel to three of the four corners of Bangladesh.

Doug MacDougald
for Bangladesh Team 2011

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Saturday, 22 October 2011

Honduras: The team has arrived

The flight from Toronto to Tegucigalpa was pleasant.

The SCAW Team was met at the airport by most of the hardworking Rotary Club of Tegucigalpa officers and members. Our first destination was the bodega (warehouse) where the bedkits were assembled and stored.
Honduras 2011
They spoke about the challenges they encountered this year to make the bedkits as attractive and useful to the children as in prior years despite the rising cost of material and labour.

The warehouse was negotiated with the help of a lot people who believed in the wonderful job Sleeping Children does and the dedication of our Rotary partners in bringing smiles to the children. The security of the bedkits were assured with the help of the army.

We are so excited and are looking forward to our first distribution on Monday. Hasta luego.

Linda Taiabjee
for the Honduras 2011 Travelling Team

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Bangladesh: Debiganj and Rangpur

Today our day started at 6:00 am as we prepared to reach out to 660 of the neediest children in the northern part of Bangladesh.

From Bangladesh 2011

Debiganj and Rangpur are two brand new distribution sites that SCAW has never visited before. While travelling for two hours the team was introduced to the Bangladeshi “Gamcha” a head scarf or their local towel.

When we arrived in Debiganj, we were welcomed by 300 wonderful smiles, loud clapping and singing children. We listened to a passionate rendition of a student singing “We Shall Overcome” and then we both shared our national anthems. The SCAW team was given the opportunity to plant two Banyan trees to commemorate their visit. These trees will provide future shade for the 100-year-old school’s courtyard.
From Bangladesh 2011

After a light thank you lunch we were on our way again for another two-hour trip to reach our next distribution of 360 bedkits in Rangpur.

This distribution took place in an old rice factory which provided us with a real natural setting for the photos. The happy smiling children and their parents were most appreciative of bedkits that had been kindly donated by all the SCAW donors.

A Big Thank You to all our donors! The team is looking forward to another wonderful day of fun and excitement tomorrow.

Mike Foster
for Bangladesh Team 2011

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Friday, 21 October 2011

Bangladesh: First Distribution

The first distribution was completed in Dhaka today with some special bedkit dedications of thanks from the Sleeping Children team to the Rotary Club and others celebrating last year’s team member Danielle Lalonde’s marriage to Masudal Alam.

It was a great start to providing comfort to 6,000 beautiful children in Bangladesh.
From Bangladesh 2011

We then headed north with the combined Sleeping Children and Rotary team on an eight-hour road trip. Along the way cameras were clicking as we passed brick works, rice paddies, ponds of water hyacinths, overloaded hay wagons with many men perched on top, and, of course, vehicles of all conceivable kinds.

While the bus driver did a minor repair in Bogra we had a great time hanging out with the local kids who loved having their picture taken, thumb wrestling, action games such as ‘head and shoulders knees and toes,’ and all finished off by both national anthems sung with much gusto.

Oh, and of course as you can see in our photo album -- and also in the slide show below -- some team members chewing pan as we try on for size some Bangladeshi experiences.

Stay tuned for more fun tomorrow.

Sally Jo Martin
for Bangladesh Team 2011

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Thursday, 20 October 2011

Bangladesh: The Canadian team has arrived

We arrived early this morning and the neat thing is too get initial reactions from the team members that have not been to Dhaka before.

The photos in our Photo Album and quotes below tell the story of the market and street walk about and the initial meeting with the Rotary Club of Dhaka’s Sleeping Children’s (Overseas Volunteer Organization) committee.
From Bangladesh 2011

The impressions: are:
  • “Amazingly friendly people just wanting to interact, find out where we were from, use a Canadian flag pin as their earring and have their picture taken – all without any expectation of money - interesting and refreshing.”
  • “We are in the best part of the city and the crumbling infrastructure or lack of it is surprising – power outages numerous times a day are the norm.”
  • “The Rotarian members are passionate and committed about Sleeping Children. They welcomed us at the airport at 4 AM and are friendly and inclusive to the new members of the team”

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Bangladesh 2011 Photo Album

Dhaka is a city so different than one we are used to with 15 million citizens living with very high density land use.

Doug MacDougald
for the Banlgadesh 2011 Team

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