Monday, 27 February 2017

Bangladesh: A Different Approach!

Today (Monday February 27th 2017) marks the beginning of an unique distribution for Sleeping Children Around the World and its Overseas Volunteer Partner.

In July 2016, the Canadian Government issued a warning regarding “non-essential” travel to Bangladesh. It strongly advised travellers not to visit the country in light of a recent tragic attack on foreign nationals.

To date, as that advisory has not been lifted, the Canadian SCAW  team has been unable to team up with the Rotary Club of Dhaka to work together distributing 6,000 bedkits to needy Bangladeshi children.

The original schedule would have had the distribution start in November 2016, and in the lead-up to that date the hope from everyone was that the advisory would have changed. It did not and it became apparent that a new date would have to be decided upon, and that became February 2017.

The children were selected, the bedkits manufactured and in storage, the distribution sites organised: all this being efficiently organised by the willing volunteers of the Rotary Club of Dhaka under the leadership of Bayezidur Rahman.

With the inability of the SCAW team to travel, the duties they would normally have carried out are now being undertaken by the Rotary team. They have embraced the challenge with such enthusiasm and confidence, it’s heartwarming!

With daily communication between Bangladesh and Sleeping Children here, together we will work though this unique opportunity and bring about the desired result...6,000 smiling children with bedkits.

Today the Overseas Volunteer Partner team of Bayezidur Rahman, Mohammad Khaliquzzaman, Ranjan Neogi, RI Rowly, and Masud Alam (with countless other volunteers) started the distribution off in grand style with 680 bedkits given out in Rowmari, in the far north of Bangladesh.

These children come from one the poorest areas of the country, living mostly on “islands” in the Brahmaputra River, where season flooding periodically destroys those islands and creates new ones. These young children would have seen their homes destroyed at least twice in their young lives.

Our thanks go to the Rotary Dhaka, and all the SCAW donors, for bringing some hope and improvement to the children of this area of Bangladesh. 

Chris Hill, Team Leader connected by SKYPE to Rotary Club of Dhaka.
Team Bangladesh 2017
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Kenya: Thank You Donors!

The first Mombasa distribution of 1000 bed kits to some very happy children!

Team Kenya is going to bed smiling knowing that 1000 children will have a good night sleep with pleasant dreams of today!

Thank you Donors!

Team Kenya 2017
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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Kenya: The Team Has Arrived!

Kenya 2017 team has arrived safely!
Preparing for distribution of 1,000 bed kits tomorrow!!

Back row left to right: Clarence Deyoung, Susan Plasteras, Connie Beaton
Front row left to right: Susan Hicks, Karen Scott, Jill Plasteras, Cheryl Warner

Team Kenya 2016

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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Belgaum: Hunger

One thing that struck me, as a first impression during our initial distributions of bedkits is how well nourished the children seemed to be.  I mentioned this to Pat and Brian Tuddenham, who had been here 10 years ago, and they confirmed, that yes, something had definitely happened, the normal case had been that the average child was suffering from malnutrition.

Today, we discovered the reason for the transition.

In 2003, the Indian Government mandated that every child enrolled in school would receive a free mid day meal.  Today we visited the largest of 12 mega kitchens run by Akshaya Patra.  The kitchen we visited was in Hubli and prepares 150,000 meals in less than 5 hours every day.  Each meal costs $0.20, 12 cents provided by the government and 8 cents by donations from the public.  A donation of R 950 will serve one child a daily meal for an entire academic year.

This is one program that has had a truly transformative effect on both the Indian economy and society.  School attendance is up, the level of literacy is exploding, childhood starvation has been eradicated.

The goal of the program is to feed 5 million children daily by 2020.

Team Belgaum 2017
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Monday, 20 February 2017

Belgaum: "It's a long and winding road" Sarsi

Today we started out at 7:30 a.m. And because we were so early there was very little traffic. It must be the ideal time to learn how to drive because within 1 km of our hotel, we came across 3 driving school vehicles training new drivers. If they only knew what they were in for!

On the hottest day yet at 37 degrees Celsius, we travelled the 2 hour drive on a long and winding road filled with monkeys and trees marked with red and white stripes and bamboo trees galore. We were even lucky enough to stop and take some pictures of the cashew trees. 

Not knowing who was more excited - the children, the parents or the Rotarians - we arrived at this first time distribution site and were greeted with sandalwood leis. Awaiting us were 200 students and their parents from 20 schools with about 10 children per school all travelling 25-35 km to the site which was at the home club of the Rotary Club of Sarsi. 

This club with 100 members had 25-35 volunteers here today including Rotary members and members of the Inner wheel. They were so eager to please the SCAW team - this being their first experience. They did an excellent job and were all set up by the time we got there. They even had a bedkit set up for us. That was a first!

70 per cent of today's children came from a single parent home and they were treated like royalty all through the process ending in a delicious meal for them and their parents - also sponsored by The Rotary Club of Sirsi. 

With 4800 happy children under our belts we look forward to the final 200 tomorrow. 


Team Belgaum 2017
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Belgaum: Hubli

Today was a great day in Hubli.  Everything went well, after some modifications were made upon inspection.  The parents were directly at the exit and it was wonderful to see their excited anticipation, as they awaited the arrival of their children.  Some of the pictures demonstrate the hard work of the local Rotarians as they assisted in the distribution.

Here is a picture of a classroom at the site that is used: it definitely looks as small as you think it looks.  Unbelievably, it hosts 30 children on a daily basis.  School runs from 10-5.  There is a chalkboard and a smart board.  No other pictures of books to be seen.  There is a computer lab in the building but it was under lock and key, so we didn't have a chance to see it.

Another great day, communicating with children and adults.  Their warmth, appreciation and generosity of spirit is wonderful to experience.

Team Belgaum 2017
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Saturday, 18 February 2017

Belgaum: Bailhongal

Today we moved hotels to Hubli, stopping on the way to distribute 400 bedkits in Bailhongal. This time we were helped by several dozen National Cadet Corps girls and boys. The children as always were poor, polite, appreciative, and cheerful. 

The children had traveled as much as 100 km. in school buses paid for by the Rotarians, who also provided them with a meal. Before the distribution the children spent 15 minutes meditating.

After the distribution we again had the opportunity to visit the home of a bedkit recipient. Again it was small and sparse and again the family were gracious hosts.

Today one of the Rotarians laughingly told us that you had to change languages every 12 km. in India. We have learned to say smile in at least three languages. Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Team Belgaum 2017
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Friday, 17 February 2017

Belgaum: Our Biggest Day!

Today was our shortest drive and our biggest distribution. Today we gave out 1000 bedkits in the city of Belgaum.  As always the children were eager to see us and  happy to play bubbles and catch with us. They tried to say "Canada" and were keen to shake hands and try to talk to us and as always virtually all of them volunteered a sincere thank you.

It may appear from the formal photographs that these children don't smile a lot  and are not as happy as we report them to be.They and their parents smile and laugh  most of the time, until faced with a camera. Sometimes our best pictures are after the children have the bedkit and are on their way home. Then they seem more relaxed and willing to show their enthusiasm. It is a stressful day for them

After the distribution and lunch with the hard working Rotarians we visited an Inner Wheel Craft Shop that provides an opportunity for rural woman to sell their handicrafts.  The workmanship was very impressive.

Tonight we are attending a Rotary meeting that is open to all the families.
Tomorrow we are back to a long drive and a change in location.

Team Belgaum 2017
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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Belgaum: Gokak

Today was a fabulous day of learning and experience.  We began the day with having breakfast at one of the Belgaum Rotarians home where we learned many interesting facts about life in India.  Afterward we were shown how the bedkits are assembled in the location used for the Belgaum site and Ekal at Joyada.  1000 kits and 700 kits respectively.

The trip to Gokak was eventful with a visit to a waterfall along the way and passing a gypsy group moving from one site to another.

The Gokak distribution of 300 kits went smoothly.  These were distributed to 20 kids from different schools and instead of parents being there, the teachers were in charge of the kids and transportation was provided home as a group.

Another wonderful day to experience India!

Team Bulgaum 2017
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