Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dinah and Anne's trip to Bhola, August 2009

Dinah's report on her and Anne's August 2009 visit to Bhola

Dear all,

Anne and I had a wonderful time. We were incredibly
lucky with the weather: it was never too hot although
Ali says the temperature has shot up since we left.
There was rain most days, often in the early morning –
serious rain, which made the roads int
eresting! It was
lovely sleeping on the third floor of the new building, which
is extremely comfortable and relatively co
ol among the tree tops.

I will, however, try to avoid Ramadan in the future. The
children were up half the night and asleep in the mornings!
What is more, Anne and I were twice foolish enough to eat
rather too much of the delicious 7.30 snacks when we had
guests, forgetting we w
ould be served a large supper
some two hours later.

We now have 7 geese and, I think, 8 ducks in the boundary.
They are loving the puddles, of course, and its great to
see them swimming along behind a boat full of children!
Still two dogs, and the occasional rat but none on the
third floor... The new kitchen has been built and is waiting
for its equipment to be bought and installed.

We spent a lot of time on the new land at Valimia,
which is pretty wet at present but being brilliantly
cultivated. One day we bought and planted over
100 fruit trees, and Ali will soon be sowing the n
crops of vegetables. As you can see from the attached
photograph, Ali has kindly built a nice little bench for
visitors to sit and superv
ise the work!

The children were all in great form and obviously
delighted to see us. There were about eight new
faces, and all the old friends came back to stay while
we were there, apart from poor little Sima with the leg.

Since her mother remarried she lives with her grandfather.
She seldom talks or laughs now, nor has she grown at all.
You who have been with us
from the beginning will
remember Sima’s beaming face, even with her poor leg
in plaster or a metal brace. Ali and I went to see her
and suggested she come to live with us, but this would
mean loss of face f
or grandfather. We can only hope.

Fatima has almost finished her treatment and is
trying to find work as a beautician. She would like
to set up her own business in Bhola Town but is not
yet experienced enough, and there is no local work
for her. She could find a job in Dhaka but has nowhere
to stay…

We will explore the possibility of a new prosthetic
leg for Laily – kind friends have made suggestions
and offered financial help.

Ali arranged for Sima teacher and her cerebral daughter
Sonali to spend two residential weeks doing cp training.
Sima gave us all a brilliant presentation on all aspects of
caring for cerebral palsy children, and she has done
wonders with Sonali who is much stronger. We hope
she will teach Sahadut’s mother to do all
the exercises
so that dear little boy will one day be running around.

All the other children are well and there were no illnesses
or visits to the hospital. We had a moment of panic when
one of our school children, a six y
ear old autistic girl called
Tumpa, walked out of her house early one morning. Ali had
a phone call from Tumpa’s s
tepmother – her father works
abroad and her mother, a slow learner, lives in Barisal.
He shot off to search on his motorcycle, and other staff
read out her description on the loud ha
iler. Fortunately
this led to somebody reporting they had spotted her in
a house after she had crossed saturated fi
elds and
streams, and she can’t swim. We think she was trying
to reach her natural mother, she had taken some clothes
and two pairs of shoes. Ali brought her home and she
has lived with us eve
r since. She is a darling pretty little
girl who speaks to one very earnestly, r
emembers things
one has done or worn, but of course cannot actually
communicate, so we had been very frightened indeed.

Anne and I lent our iPods to the deaf children and a
remarkable number of them have hearing, at least
in one ear. Anne had a programme of Bengali words
and two children, Rabeya and Earuddin, could repeat
the words after they were spoken
. Ali is going to test
everyone once he gets new batteries for his machine.
Please keep your fingers crossed we can
do something
for these children.

Finally, our Christmas card. I had told the children when
we arrived that there would be a competition for the
best picture which would be our Christmas card this
We had several practice classes, when they improved
dramatically, with or without using stencils. Then on the
final day, to everyone’s amazement, dear Tasnur produced
a really lovely drawing which is attached. Tasnur is very
special for me, since she was the first I met of Ali’s children.
Aged about 12 or 13, she has graduated from classes and
is now training in tailoring, and nobody had any idea she
could draw. We love the image (photo below) which shows our house,
our children, our dog and trees flowers and vegetables,
and with the sun shining on us all. I will be ordering
cards in due course, an
d if anyone is interested in buying
some I would love to hear from you. All proceeds, as usual,
to Bhola’s Children a
nd I promise you they will be cheaper
to mail than last year’s card!

Ali asked me to send you all love and thanks from him

and the children. We all thank you for your support,