Whilst this blog has been concentrating on the writing world, my heart is never far from Bangladesh, and especially, from Bhola's Children. It's eighteen months now since I was there, but another of our Trustees, Freda Graf, has just returned. I thought I'd share her thoughts here...
It was monsoon time when I visited Bhola’s Children which meant high humidity, tremendous downpours and the loudest thunder I have ever heard. There was not a sound from the children, as they were so used to it, but I thought the world was coming to an end! The terrible flooding in South East Asia had little impact on Bhola as they are conditioned to it and have effective strategies in place to minimise the problems. Unfortunately, the rice crop has been wiped out and this will have a dramatic impact on the basic foodstuff, leading to a significant increase in cost. This in turn will impact on our budget and the money we send out to Bhola’s Children.
The children were all fundamentally well despite the usual colds and fevers that are typical for this time of year. It was good to see the children having great fun in the pond, jumping, splashing and playing in the water. All the children are taught to swim which is a necessary skill to have when you live in an area surrounded by water.
I was especially pleased to see Nayan (a boy with multiple disabilities) confidently playing and swimming. He has had intensive physio for the last year from Dilruba, our qualified physiotherapist. She comes to the Boundary for a few hours each week and she has trained our staff in proper physio. Dilruba can diagnose the problems and develop treatment plans for each of our children. She then instructs our staff to look after a group of children. This has made a significant impact on the care the children are receiving and hence the improvement.
The older boys are attending a Training School in Dhaka where they are learning skills to enable them to get employment when they have finished. I visited the school which is very impressive where they teach a range of skills including farming, mechanical engineering, IT and tailoring. The boys seem to be very happy and thriving there. Zakir and I collected the boys and brought them back to Bhola for the holidays.
The carpenter is continuing to teach the boys the basic skills in woodwork and now that the older boys are at school, the younger and the less able children are having a chance to learn.
We had a wonderful farewell party where the children entertained me with singing by a girl with Downs syndrome and a boy with multiple disabilities. The girls danced in unison and it was fascinating watching how a blind girl could almost manage to dance in union with the others. The deaf boys wrote and performed a very entertaining play about a thief who was of course captured by the end of the play.
It was the end of term and the children were doing examinations and preparing to go home for the Cow Cutting EID holiday. By the end of my stay most of the children had gone and an eerie silence had descended on the home. The staff could have a well-deserved rest and prepare for the next term.
I spent Cow Cutting Eid with Zakir’s family in Dhaka and it was a most interesting experience. The day before Eid, there were cows everywhere in the streets and on Eid day I watched them being butchered, very cleanly and humanly. My curiosity about this arises from the days I was an operating theatre sister. The tradition is the meat is divided three ways, to the poor, to relatives and the family keep the remaining third. Many poor people come to Dhaka specially to collect the meat and the crowds gathered outside the rich people’s houses.
Zakir, our Director, has been managing the home in a very efficient and thoughtful way. He has a very good relationship with both the children and staff. He has the skill to be friendly and yet have the respect of the staff. The children love him and he is very good at playing and having fun with them. We do hope he will continue for a long time to come.
And if you would like to read more about Bangladesh, please do have a scroll through previous blog posts - or click on A Blonde Bengali Wife For the first time ever it's jsut slipped below the Top Fifty so any purchases or reviews will increase the royalties we can send to Bhola's Children!