It’s nice to come back to you again with the latest news of our last trip to Bhola. This time we decided to go earlier, therefore, the Three Musketeers - Eleonora, Jose’ and Bruna - and twelve pieces of luggage (!) flew to Dhaka on the 2nd of January.
Because we thought it was better to travel ‘light’, Eleonora and Bruna already in November last year sent by ship to Ali and the children 14 big boxes with medical equipment, tools and machines for the workshop, ítems for the kitchen and the new building, stationery, different games (always educational of course!), all sorts of sewing ítems, including a new sewing machine for our fantastic Asma, arts and craft material and a football table and hockey table! We Italian girls still cannot grasp the ‘wisdom’ of cricket!.
This time we had organized to fly to Bhola chartering the amphibious plane of MAF (Mission Aviation Fellowship). Unfortunately although we were only four people flying, the luggage was still too much and too heavy, therefore we Three Musketeers went ahead with some pieces while Ali and two pieces of luggage went by overnight ferry.
The trip to Bhola took only 35 minutes and we arrived in bright sunshine It was still very emotional to see so many people at the side of the river looking at our ‘mechanical’ bird landing softly on the water, recognizing immediately the familiar faces of Mantu and Mosharef, the always very excited and smiling Saladin that sat at the back of the Toyota van on top of the luggage!!.
In the boundary the children welcomed us with three beautiful bouquets of flowers, hugs, kisses, cries of ‘Mummy…..mummy, auntie….auntie…uncle…‘ all eager to help to carry the heavy suitcases. Obviously we couldn’t miss noticing the new big building, nearly finished, a little overwhelming even if we had already seen many photos of it. We could also see many men working and some of our very proud boys helping.
We saw new faces among the children and the staff; we recognized from the photos Fatima, the young woman that had terrible burns mainly on her chest and arms, with the most beautiful face intact; we finally met Ronazid, Ali’s main help and substitute that joined us two months ago. It was an immediate good, positive feeling. He is a very gentle, polite but not shy man; communicative and attentive. We saw him many times later interacting in a very natural, warm way with the children. He shared with us an immediate understanding of many situations, some problems and possible future resolutions and a willingness to be really part of Bhola's Children Family.
I must admit that this time our stay was much more challenging because of the effects of the still on-going works of the new building. Although we three had the same rooms like last year, the girls had to sleep on the floor in the next door classroom making the life of always sensitive Jose’ very difficult! Eleonora and I used ear plugs , therefore we could not hear so much of the girls chatting, baby crying, 5 am clattering of the Hindu kitchen …. the usual life of a home full of girls!.
Talking to Ali and observing the children, we realised that after a successful successful beginning there is now the need to involve better more qualified teachers, introduce a new bigger and more specific curriculum and above all a teacher and material specialized in blind students. It is always good and inspiring to see children with different disabilities to study, work, live together and help each other, but there is also now a need to give at times more specific guidances and learning techniques according to the different disabilities. Obviously it is a passing phase, but it was good to be able to analyse with Ali the present new and unusual situation, already introducing positive and effective remedies, planning future ones, learning and understanding the evolution of this fantastic unique project.
We organized a beautiful, exciting celebration of the Epiphany on the 6th of January when in Italy is tradition to give presents to the children. As usual Jose’ made the most beautiful drawing on the board of the Three Wise Men; we prepared then all different colourful bags full of personal presents for boy/girl, man/woman, including very colourful wooly scarves (it is actually quite cold in January), deodorants, perfumes, shower gels, shampoos, beads kits, car models, etc….. I told the story of the Italian tradition symbolizing the Three Kings coming from three different countries to bring presents to Jesús, and how we three, coming from three European countries liked to give all of them our presents on this special day. It was a very happy, funny, cheerful and exciting time. Everybody was so thrilled with all the goodies and surprises found in the bags. Needless to say, nearly everybody has been wearing the wooly scarves since!.
Although we didn’t manage to go for a picnic, we went to see the new land that is really big and very nice. We talked of the different ways to use it and above all of the immediate works needed, but wisely Ali agreed that we should wait until the new building is finished.
It wasn’t only a time for distributing gifts. We talked a lot of the future of Bhola's Children considering how much has already grown and once the new building will be finished how it will change even more. There is always the issue of Ali being in charge of everything, being very tired and thin. The need of finding more people like Ronazid that can take some responsabilities away from Ali. Creating a team where also others can take decisions within an area where they should be responsable. It is difficult for Ali to trust others, but we discussed a lot about the problem reaching the conclusion that Ali and all of us need to take some courage and even risk to put different people in charge, even to make mistakes, but it is the only way to train future teachers, helpers and carers.
It was a short but very intense visit, somehow more demanding that the last one, more challenging and in a way more serious. Going away was as usual painful with lots of tears and cries “ …mummy ..no go… auntie….uncle..no go”; at the same time it was less dramatic, there was some serenity and understanding of our future coming back, some awareness of continuity, I really felt a proud mother …. our children are growing up!
Bruna (little heart)