Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Bangladesh: Sreepur Distribution Day 8 - Distribution Completed!

After today's distribution of 610 bedkits the team is feeling a little tired but in their hearts they know that 6000 children are now sleeping more comfortable and are a little more prepared for the winter months ahead.  It certainly was a sad but a happy moment when the final bedkit was passed into the hands of the last child.  
We had the opportunity to end the last day in a small village just outside the city of Sreepur in a quaint but desperately in need local village. The location was perfect at a small primary school and it was a very special day for many of the village people.  We were blessed with the wonderful fall weather for our final distribution.  We had a huge audience today not only for our distribution but the Rotary Club of Dhaka had arranged for The High Commissioner of Canada to Bangladesh, Ms. Heather Cruden to visit our distribution site and actually see what SCAW is doing for the children of Bangladesh and the other children around the world  She was very impressed with SCAW and the entire process of the distribution. 

After the distribution was complete, the team had the supreme pleasure of visiting the home of a recipient of a bedkit from last year's distribution. It was certainly an eye opener for many as to the living conditions and the need that these people really do have. The bedkit showed signs of being heavily used but was still in very good condition as it had been certainly cared for by the boy and his family.  
We ended the day with an outdoor barbecue at one of the local Rotarian's summer cottage.  A word of thanks to all those people involved to make this a dream come true.  
Including the 6,000 bedkits delivered by the Bangladesh team this year, our total is now 1,255,130 bedkits since Sleeping Children began in 1970.

A very Big Thank You to our Overseas Volunteer Partners - The Rotary Club of Dhaka for everything that they did to make our travels a safe and comfortable one and giving us the opportunity to touch the lives of 6000 Bangladeshi children and their families.  

To see all the pictures from see our album Bangladesh 2012
A Special Thanks to all our Donors who have made it possible to us the complete our mission! 

Mike Foster for Team Bangladesh 2012
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Monday, 19 November 2012

Bangladesh: Chittagong Distribution Day 7

We have one more distribution after Chittagong and our mission of  6000 bedkits in Bangladesh will be complete. While roads here are continually congested, one never sees ‘road rage’.  Instead, the non-stop beeping of horns lends to a calculated (if, in our eyes, not particularly safe) shifting of positions among leg-powered rickshaws, tuk-tuks, trucks, buses and cars that seems to meet everyone’s needs.  We have seen only one accident.
A four hour drive brought the SCAW team from Cox’s Bazar to Chittagong. The Chittagong camp was on the grounds of a local school.  The schoolyard was walled which enabled easy site control and with the arriving children were able to use classrooms to change into their new clothes.  The distribution went smoothly – 560 kits in about four and a half hours.  Many of the older children feel confident enough to say ‘thank you very much’ or ‘you’re welcome’ in English.  We have learned that there aren’t separate Bangla words for ‘thank you very much’ and ‘you’re welcome’.  Instead, ‘doh-noh-baad’ is used for both.
There was time after the distribution to wash before traveling to the airport for the flight back to Dhaka.  We are looking forward to a day of rest.  In the past eight days, we have spent nearly as much time traveling as distributing bedkits – the pace is rigorous.

Charlene Gordon for Team Bangladesh 2012

Bangladesh: Distribution 6 - Cox's Bazar

We had to take a flight from Dhaka to reach our next distribution location. We will have our second largest distribution day of 1160 bedkits.  Cox’s Bazar is the most southeastern part of Bangladesh in an area with many adjacent hill tract people.  This was seen clearly in the varied facial characteristics of the children with their eye shapes, cheekbones and eye colours. 500 of children that came for the bedkit distribution were from these areas and also one of the poorest areas of the country.  We were told that some of the children had to travel a long distance to get to the distribution site.

The presence of two extra volunteers (American post-graduate students with Rotarian relatives in Dhaka) to help entertain the kids and assist Mike in coping with changing light conditions for photographs was deeply appreciated.  There were many physically challenged children at this camp – one little girl hopped on one leg along the entire distribution route while others were carried.  One particularly feels for the parents of handicapped children in developing countries.  They are truly on their own to provide for the needs of their child.

Cox’s Bazar is also a busy tourist community with its extraordinary beaches and beautiful sunsets.  The tourist nature of the community has produced a local culture unlike what the team experienced in the northwestern part of Bangladesh.  For the first time on the street, we were approached with requests for "baksish" (tips).

The team of packers and Rotoactors who transported the bedkits to Cox’s Bazar deserve special mention.  They left Dhaka at 7:30 am the previous day and did not arrive until nearly 10 pm – an arduous journey of fifteen hours.  Getting through Chittagong alone took 4.5 hours.  They were still on-site today with energy and dedication – a truly remarkable group of people.

The local Rotary club hosted a barbeque and cultural show for us on the rooftop patio of a local Rotarian (his fish processing plant was located in the building below).  The barbeque tiger shrimps were the size of farmer sausages – absolutely the largest any of us had ever seen.  Such a land of contrasts – beautiful singing and generous amounts of food after a day of so much need.

And here are some of the beautiful children we saw today.


Charlene Gordon for Team Bangladesh 2012

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Bangladesh Pictures from Rangpur

From Bangladesh 2012
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Day 5 Rangpur Distribution

Today’s distribution was very close to where we stayed the night so our travel to the site was only 20 minutes by our micro bus.  This has been the shortest distance that we have had to travel to reach the children for their bedkits. It was a less tiring start to our day.  We arrived to a well established but old primary school that was totally enclosed with a courtyard that certainly helped with the security of the distribution.  We had many smiling and waving children on the site when we arrived.  Some of the children were already dressed in their new clothing and waiting for the distribution to begin.  We had visited the distribution site the night before and were able to establish the distribution plan so everything was well prepared and ready to go when we arrived.  We had a smooth sailing distribution of 640 bedkits. 
The team on their travels of the northern parts of Bangladesh has made some pretty distinct observations about Bangladesh.  Transportation on the roads seems to be in constant motion with trucks, rickshaws, rickshaw vans, cars, people, animals and merchants etc. Bangladesh is a land of color in the local markets with produce arranged by shape and colour. The rickshaws have flashy paintings and trucks with decorative colouring and all over.  The countryside is alive with a variety of green trees, rice and jute fields, banana groves, vegetable fields and water hyacinth.  The clothes of the women are absolutely beautiful and rich with their traditional bright colours. Another wonderful day of travel and distribution!
Patsy Leamon for Team Bangladesh 2012
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Day 4 Lalmonirhat

We had another early 5:45 morning start to our distribution location. Lamonirhat is located in the most northern part of Bangladesh and very close to the India border. It was a perfect day for a distribution as the sun was shining and the morning was still cool from the evening before. This was our largest distribution of 1200 bedkits and we were looking forward to the day’s challenge. Our distribution site was an open air stadium but it had all the necessary facilities to perform our duties. The Rotary Club of Lalmonirhat was a wonderful host. They had large colourful canopied areas to provide shade for the children and the team. There was a large team of Rotaractors, volunteers and the local police to guide us along to have a very smooth and successful distribution. We were visited by my many special children today, especially the ones from the “Enclaves” of Bangladesh. These families live in the very isolated areas of Bangladesh but are governed by the India government. They virtually live in refugee camps that are still remaining from the 1971 War of Independence. They only have the opportunity to leave their home area at 8:00 am to but must return before 8:00 pm. We witnessed many various ethnic features that left us with many beautiful smiles. A special thank you to our donors for making this possible for the children of Bangladesh!

From Bangladesh 2012

Mike Foster for Team Bangladesh 2012
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Sunday, 11 November 2012

Bangladesh: Dinajpur

The team is up early again for our journey to our  distribution at Dinajpur. One of the smallest on our trip (420 bedkits).

We were elated that we would be able to stay two nights in one place tonight  after travelling and moving each day since we arrived.

At 11am while travelling  on the bus some of the team were musing that it was Rememberance Day although at home it was still Saturday night.

We arrived in the blistering midday sun, fortunately the children were mostly shaded under a canopy. We elected to start immediately to get the rest of the children shaded, although we had no alternative but to set up in the direct  sun we soon had the children moving

It was very hot but soon some of the team had the children clapping and cheering and playing catch with frisbees. During our distribution a cow wandered into our photo site, this seemed to relax the situation.

Tomorrow we plan to get an even earlier start (5:45) to get prepared for one of our largest distributions of over 1200 bedkits

George Foster for the Bangladesh 2012 team 
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Bangladesh Day 2: Jessore Pictures

From Bangladesh 2012

From Bangladesh 2012
From Bangladesh 2012

From Bangladesh 2012

From Bangladesh 2012