Thursday, November 17, 2011

Some more photographs from our trip

Dinah's report on her visit with Anne and Simon

Simon Hamilton, aged 15 months, now has about 50 brothers and sisters, several uncles and aunts and a grandfather! The youngest visitor to Bhola thoroughly enjoyed the experience, got not a single mosquito bite and seemed to like the food. Pomegranates have now replaced blueberries as his favourite fruit..

It was a wonderful trip for all three of us – even the flights could have been worse. We had five hours in Bahrain on the outward journey and luckily persuaded Gulf Air to let Anne and Simon into the Business Class lounge with me. The rest of the journeys, although long, were relatively troublefree and it was a joy to make the 40 minute seaplane flight to Bhola, instead of the overnight ferry – the first time I had arrived that way. In the photograph Ronazid looks as if he is about to hit Anne – in fact he is holding an umbrella!

All the children were in great form, very pleased to see us and of course delighted to welcome Anne’s baby. There are several new young children. Some of our teenagers have left, either to work in Bhola or Dhaka or, in the case of a couple of girls, to get married. Shahti, who married Deepok a couple of years ago, is expecting a baby in December and is looking very large and happy. Two of our brightest deaf girls, Sonia and Salma, have been registered to attend the local school in January which is excellent news, fingers crossed that they cope.

Anne and I both liked our new House Mother, Shefali – as do the children. She is the only Christian among Muslims and a few Hindus, and so her sign language name is very easy: the sign of the cross!

We were also delighted to find a young man whom I had met three years ago – he and his friends were about to do a Masters in Special Education. Nuzrul is joining us for six months and it was a joy watching him with the children – he specializes in the deaf but is extremely clever with all ranges of disability. I think he will inspire our teachers and leave behind some useful programmes for others to follow.

We came hot on the heels of a representative of our major donor making her first visit to Bhola, and Ali was jubilant at having been able to show her everything. Much of the funding for the new tailoring building comes from her company and I am sure she was delighted to see it nearly finished – it should be ready by the end of the year. Apart from accommodation for volunteers and married staff, it has a lovely large airy tailoring room on the first floor – Asma can’t wait to move into it with her pupils and the machines.

The bottom pond is now back in use, only by the boys until building is over, but it was good to see them swimming again. For a relatively small property with a large building project, Ali Bacchu and the rest of the staff have kept everything very tidy – vegetables growing well and of course plenty of space in front of the hostel for cricket and badminton. There is still music, singing and dancing every afternoon before the children are let loose outside.

Once again we are harvesting the nuts at Supari Bagan (Nut Tree Garden). These are left to dry and sold next year when the price is high. So, until such time as we can build the workshops there, the land is earning some money for us.

We had our usual Friday picnic at Valumia. The top field had been ploughed the week before, so Bacchu and the boys set to work planting tomatoes, egg plants and broccoli. When we went back the following Wednesday, our last morning, to say goodbye we were amazed to see a sea of green – and they hadn’t even needed to water the plants in… it is truly a magical place. Our little house will be very useful when plumbed in, and indeed we had lunch in it in style, with a few important guests – complete with a fan, the generator having been taken along on the trailer!

Unlike last year, when most of the children went home for Eid, Ali insisted everyone stay in the boundary. It is a long day. As Anne said, rather like Christmas but without the presents. It was nearly 3 pm before lunch was cooked, since the cow may not be killed until the men have returned from prayers at 9 am. After lunch we went to the Childrens’ Park down the road, where Ali organized the children into a game which immediately attracted a good crowd of spectators. As I said, they should have paid us to come in instead of charging us!

As you can imagine, it was wonderful to be back in Bhola again after so many months. All being well, I will get out there again early next year. Meanwhile it is good to know that Bruna is arriving at the weekend, so the children will have seen both their Mammi’s!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Message from Dinah

I am happy to announce the arrival in the boundary of Shefali Halder, who will be acting as a mother or matron to the girls and younger boys. Her photograph is attached and I am looking forward to meeting her when I arrive, with Anne and baby Simon, at the end of October. Bruna will be meeting her later in November and I am sure we will all be happy to confirm her appointment as a very essential member of our family.

Shefali is in her early fifties, unmarried, and with experience as a dental nurse and of accounting. She comes from Dhaka but has no dependents in the city and Ali tells me she is happy to live in beautiful Bhola! She already loves the children and they love her. I am sure she will by now have learned sign language.

Still on the subject of staff, Ali is working with a lawyer friend, whom he and our Swedish colleagues have known for over 20 years. Their objective is to draw up a job description for a manager of the project, so as to free Ali to do what he does best: be with the children and spread awareness of disability on the island. Again, our Swedish friends have some potential candidates and with luck Bruna and I will meet some of them when we are over in the autumn.

All is fine in the boundary. Construction of the tailoring building is going well, with the staircase now in place. The washroom in Valumia is nearly ready for our use in November!

It is now Ramadan, of course, until the end of the month. The weather is still hot and rather wet, everything is growing well in Valumia. I am looking forward to eating some of these papaya!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Several people have said it seems a long time since the last news from Bhola and accompanying photographs. This is because there hasn’t been much news, good or bad! It has of course been terribly hot, and they had their first big storm at the end of May – a large branch landing on the roof of the new tailoring building. It would appear that our construction is strong. Building is progressing well and the first floor is in place.

At the moment they are making the septic tank at Valumia. The vegetables are growing well – no connection there!

All the children are fine. Ali has been working too hard, and our top priority this summer is to recruit a strong support team for him. We are working closely with our fellow trustees in Bangladesh and are getting help from the Swedish Support Group, many of whom have worked in Bangladesh and have good connections.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Happy Bengali New Year

Yesterday was Bengali New Year’s Day. The children were in high spirits, having been at the children’s park – just up the road – until late in the evening. Most of them, apart from one small deaf boy, are over the chicken pox.

Ali, as usual, asked for our prayers for the construction of the first roof last Sunday. He is always nervous about these moments in the building process, with 50 men and boys running up and down ladders at great speed with baskets of cement on their heads. It was also extremely hot. All went well, there were no accidents, and as you can see the first floor is looking good.

They now have to stop building for two weeks. Never one to let the grass grow beneath his feet, Ali tells me they are building shower and toilet facilities at Valumia. This is above the tube well. We of the fair sex who regularly spend whole days at Valumia are delighted that the pressure will be off…

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

News from Ali

Dear all

The construction work is going on in full speed

Two of our children has got pox their in leave all other children are OK.

Its very hot at day time and last night is cold. we have send one boy with double club feet for operation in the Zibontory flooding Hospital run by an NGO as a test one we have lot of children with club-feet.

Lots of love from your children

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dinah's photographs February 2011

Dinah's report on her recent visit to Bhola

My recent visit to Ali and our children was extremely happy and relaxed. The weather was perfect – hot during the day, cool at night. Everyone was waiting for me to arrive and throw the first trowel of cement into the first six foot hole for the first steel pillar for the new tailoring building.

That was the easy part. This new building was to be sited on the larger of our two ponds, filled in with sand last year. The eight outer pillars presented no problems up in no time. Ali knew the internal pillars would need deeper holes, being over the middle of the pond. But nobody expected the water to come in so resolutely. Holes were dug, water was pumped out and carried out in buckets, sides of the holes were shored up with specially constructed walls – I have never seen men, boys and girls work so hard. Eventually it was decided to remove all the sand from the middle of the site, carrying it on heads to the lower pond which had been drained. This was happening on my last morning and I had a depressing vision of leaving everyone with this mammoth task, coming back to London and asking Ali daily on the phone if they had managed to hit terra firma. Then we looked at the dry land between the proposed site and the existing old buildings, decided to measure it and found it was exactly wide enough to use one row of pillars and move the building across. This has many advantages – fewer foundations, and we might even dispense with an internal staircase, since access to the first floor rooms for married staff can be from the roof of the adjacent old building. In addition, the infilled land will make a wonderful extra vegetable garden.

Because we had so much building work, there was no time for our traditional picnic – disappointing for the children but a reprieve for the last of the ducks which had been destined for our main course! We did have one full day out, but with only a handful of the children representing each disability. This was what Ali calls his awareness programme, when we visit a school or college in the hope of educating them in the hope that fewer will give birth to children with disability. Ali speaks for well over an hour and never loses the audience’s full attention. This time we visited a high school in the south of the island, and hope to spread the word to parents of other disabled children in the region. I was delighted, in any case, to welcome three new boys in as many days while I was there, and several other children look as if they will join us. We often need an older sibling or parent to stay until they are settled in, which we are more than happy to fund.

We now have an excellent playground for the children in front of the hostel, and it was a joy to watch all the children, young and old, play games of every kind after the last lessons of the day. Together with the work they are doing on the foundations, they are getting plenty of exercise!

The children also thoroughly enjoy Valumia, where all the vegetables have flourished since the floods of last October. Our land at Valumia is a magical, beautiful and peaceful place especially now that the boundary resembles a building site! We also love visiting Supari Bagan, our new plot of land a ten minute walk from the boundary where, in due course, we will build our wood and metal workshops.

It was a joy to see Ali, the staff and all the children so well and so happy! I have come back full of faith in our project, only sad that it will be more than eight months until I return.

Thank you all once again for your support,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ali reports on cold weather in Bhola

Children has get 3rd set of warm cloth in this winter its very cold

now in Bhola. Its impossible to walk with out shoe socks are cold too

in the building. small children has 4 blankets and sleeping together

but at night one or two is on them other is you know how it is.

Children are getting some vitamin tablet so no one is sick or catch

cold thanks to Almighty and all of you are helping to the children.

The last cloth was send by Zakirvhbi from Dhaka.

Children are working in the Velumia field for growing vegetable its

very good that their getting very good training so they can grow

themselves in home in future.

Lots of love from your children