Sunday, 17 November 2019

Pune 2019: Impressive teamwork!

Today was a day filled with community spirit, organization and cooperation. Our Pune team members helped to pack 1,000 of the 8,000 bed kits to be distributed. The other 7,000 were packed at seven other sites close to where they will be given out.

What a joy to see students, teachers, Rotary members, and our SCAW team working side by side to pack the numerous items the children will receive! First we packed the backpacks with school supplies, rain ponchos, pillow cases, washcloths and towels. Then we filled large woven carry bags with blankets, pillows, ground sheets, bedding, yoga mats, clothing, and mosquito nets. Any factory would have been impressed with our assembly lines, which kept on revolving around the room until all 1,000 kits had been assembled. Even the youngest family members joined in the fun!

Everyone was then rewarded with a delicious meal prepared by a local resident. What a great way to start our adventures here! Tomorrow we are off to our first distribution site and 1,000 happy smiles.

Diane Barrick
Team Pune 2019

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Saturday, 16 November 2019

Bangladesh, 2019: Another Large and Successful Distribution

At the Akalam Muslim High School today, the team perfected the twin photo sites for handling a high volume of bedkits. 

Again, a great deal of credit must go to the volunteers who worked with the children all day long. Local Girl and Boy Scouts along with senior students from the school, took great care in guiding the children around the distribution site.

This area had been hard hit by Cyclone Bulbul.  Trees were being removed from roads, logs floated downriver for lumber mills, and firewood was being collected.

Many children were brought to the site by boat!

Chris Hills,
Team Bangladesh, 2019

Bangladesh, 2019: A Record Day Bringing Smiles to 1300 Children

The SKD team set another record today by bringing happiness to 1300 Bangladeshi children. We were honoured to be making this distribution at Boga, the ancestral home of one of Bangladesh's heroes of the Liberation War, Group Captain (rtd) Shamsul Alam.   

For this number of children we set up two adjacent photo sites, with the children's change rooms and waiting area right next to the cameras for ease of flow. 

Thirty one cadets offered great assistance to the team, moving the children from location to location around the distribution site. Many other volunteers from Dr Yakub Sarif Degree College (the host site) made for this successful day!  

Group Captain Shamsul Alam, his brother Rezul Karim, and sister Durran, generously hosted a delicious lunch for the entire SKD team, a perfect end to a perfect day!

Chris Hills,
Team Bangladesh, 2019

Friday, 15 November 2019

Pune 2019: Our adventure begins

The Pune India team has arrived safely! We were met at the airport by several Rotarians and are now looking forward to meeting the 8,000 children who will receive bedkits from our generous donors.

Team Pune 2019, from left to right :
Fran Wilson, Cindy Hobman, Diane Barrick (Team Leader),
Archie De Gaust, Kay Mountford and Andrea Tynan.

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Bangladesh, 2019: Thursday, Planning Ahead

Today was a non-distribution day, but the SKD team wanted a good sense of our next site where we would be handing out 1300 bedkits. We drove the three plus hours and ferried across two rivers to reach our destination.

Some families live all their lives on boats such as this, traversing the many waterways of this country.

This is the classroom that will become one of the changing rooms for the children.

Three "mature students" are part of the team assessing the site facilities.

The photo below is of one of the many unheralded workers hauling sand to fill in the wet spots of the site.

Village children are always curious when visitors arrive on their doorstep!

The passenger ferry crossing the first river; the larger ferry for trucks, buses, and cars followed shortly afterward.

Chris Hills,
Team Bangladesh, 2019

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Bangladesh, 2019: 1200 Bedkits Distributed in Sunny Bhola

The day dawned warm and sunny (sorry Ontario) as we set off early to take speedboats upriver for the Bhola distribution. In less than an hour we were docked and into the vans taking us to the school in Bhola Sadar Upazila.

This distribution marked another "first" for the SKD team in Bangladesh, who had taken the initiative to split the 1200 bedkits into two photos sites. Two cameras, and two bedkits laid out, with simultaneous picture taking helped bring smiles to many faces! 

The flow of children was excellent! The two groups of children filed through the photo sites and went off to receive their bedkits. 

The school had arranged for many, many student volunteers who helped tremendously in ensuring a steady stream of children to the various stations in the distribution cycle.

Chris Hills
Team Bangladesh, 2019

South Africa 2019: Final day of distributions

Today we were back to the township schools to distribute our last group of bedkits. The children were so excited and had been eagerly awaiting our arrival.

Our primary contact at the school was Abigail, a social worker who described the dire circumstances in the homes of the children we met. She optimistically pointed out that through education, the lives of these children can be changed.

She described a program in the school where parents can volunteer to work at the school providing assistance with cleaning, cooking and organizing and using the limited skills that they have. These parents accumulate volunteer hours and are paid in “moolah” which they can spend to purchase grocery items from the local grocery store. This program restores the dignity for marginalized women and allows them to be positive role models for their children while empowering individuals to make choices and save for special items. We were very impressed with the focus on dignity and empowerment. And as an added bonus, the school is immaculate!

What a wonderful distribution site to end our time in Johannesburg with!

Team South Africa 2019

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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Bangladesh, 2019: Patuakhali, Distribution Day 5

A four hour drive from Khulna brought us to our hotel in readiness for a series of distributions nearby.  Today (Tuesday) the SKD team handed out 640 bedkits in Patuakhali. 

The road there took us through the area recently devastated by Cyclone Bulbul, trees down and buildings damaged, with a major clean-up under way.

We took the ferry across the Barisal River, but not before stopping at a cha booth.

Patuakhali gave us yet another well organized and successful distribution!

Chris Hills
Team Bangladesh, 2019

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Monday, 11 November 2019

Bangladesh, 2019: A Perfect Day and One to Remember

Today offered a complete contrast to the previous day . . .the sun came out, the streets dried up and we were able to complete our distribution.

Our distribution was held at a non-governmental school with 900 students, mainly orphans. What a delightful, cheerful and welcoming throng of students, all eager to show us their school work which included English lessons, Mathematics, Bengali, and Science. 

This site was well laid out with a smooth flow of children, arriving, changing into their new clothes, having their photos taken, and then receiving their bedkits. 

A perfect day in every way!

Chris Hills
Team Bangladesh, 2019