Saturday, December 10, 2016

Freda's report from Bhola

My annual trip to Bhola’s Children was very successful and worthwhile. It was great to see so many new children and meet up again with familiar faces. The children seem very happy and are working hard at their schoolwork but still have plenty of time for fun and games. The newly installed CCTV not only makes everyone feel more secure, it also has the bonus of enabling Zakir to keep an eye on the classrooms, so the children are now quiet and well behaved.

I was especially pleased to be able to welcome the new qualified physio Dilruba, who has joined our staff. Dilruba is able to provide proper treatment plans and help our existing staff to execute the care correctly. She suggested we purchase an ultrasound machine to treat children with muscle spasm, pain, and help relieve contractures. Thanks to the very generous donation from The Funding Network we are able to agree the purchase and also buy a resistance exercise bike. This will help build up the muscles of the children with deformities.


It was a delight to see so many of the children developing technical skills. They were all very enthusiastic and keen both to watch and take part. It was great to see our new drill being used by the physically handicapped boys who are learning skills that will enable them to support themselves in the future. We are very grateful to Cumbria Overseas Aid Trust (COAT) for their very generous gift.

While I was in Dhaka, I visited the only deaf Secondary school in Bangladesh which was very impressive. It is a government supported school and there is a boarding department run by the Bangladesh Deaf Society. All being well some of our older boys will be starting there in January at the start of the new school year. I also visited the Baptist Mission Integrated School where two of our blind children attend. This school used to be specifically for the blind but has had to bring in able bodied children in order to survive.

Bangladesh has introduced a new law which bans fishing for a couple of months during the spawning session. We thought this was going to mean the fish for our children would cost a lot more. Fortunately, the exact opposite has happened, the Coastguards confiscate any fish caught and telephone us and other homes to collect the fish. Somebody’s punishment is our reward! Our fridges are now full of fish and the children are getting a healthy diet.

The Coast-Guard Jonal Commander, Efram Hossain, visited the Boundary and was very impressed at what we were doing and wanted to help us provide milk for the children.  He feels this is a very important for the children’s growth. He and his friends are going to give us three cows which we will keep at Valumia and will be cared for by Kamal and one of our boys. He has provided us with the materials so we can build a cow shed and we can get the milk delivered to the home on a daily basis. So Zakir is off to the market to buy the cows!

I had a very helpful visit to the new Superintendent of Police, although we had no particular issues to discuss it was good to be able to thank him personally for his help and invite him to visit the Boundary. All foreign visitors to Bhola are meet by the police on arrival and escorted to the Boundary. We have to inform the police when we leave the Boundary as the police will provide an escort. The authorities are obviously very nervous since the Artisan tragedy as a lot of foreign staff from NGOs have left Bangladesh.  It is rather fun being escorted by very handsome young men!

I also visited the Assistant District Commissioner who welcomed us very warmly.  He is a delightful man, helped enormously by his ability to speak very good English.  He had spent a year at Northumbria University with his family.  His wife is a Doctor and Zakir extended a very warm invitation for his wife and family to visit the Boundary.

The day starts at the Boundary at 6am and it is very impressive to watch the children doing their early morning exercise. This is very well run by one of the older boys Gias, who manages the children in a fun but disciplined way.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Weddings in Bhola Garden

We think we should call Zakir “Cupid” – since he joined, three of our female staff and our own Faruk have “tied the knot”!

Faruk has been with us all his life. He was born with cerebral palsy and is part paralysed down the right side. He is now in his thirties and longs to be married.  He is the gate keeper  and every morning he can be seen sweeping the boundary and checking the tube wells.

A couple brought their daughter in some four weeks ago. She was about 16 so too old for us to accept. But when Zakir saw that she was paralysed down her left side, he proposed for Faruk and both Sharmin and her parents agreed.

In true Bangladeshi fashion no time was wasted, the marriage took place almost at once  and the parents went home. Two weeks later Faruk accompanied his bride to her parents’ home for the Eid holiday and, for the first time in his life, had people he could address as mother and father.

Salina is a widow, and the mother of our dear Sonali, now 11 and severely disabled with cerebral palsy. Salina also has a son who is in the local boys’ orphanage and visits us on all holidays.

Since we have known Salina, she has had at least two offers of marriage but neither suitor was prepared to take Sonali as well. Naturally Salina, who is a wonderful mother, rejected both proposals.

Mofiz and Salina
We are delighted to tell you Salina has now found a new husband who is more than happy to be a father to both her children. Mofiz was widowed earlier this year. His children are grown up, he has his own house near our campus, and until recently he worked for Heed Technical Training College. Mofiz proposed last month and the marriage took place yesterday.

Sandy and Freda are both about to visit Bhola and will have the good fortune to celebrate two marriages. I am deeply envious!


We were so very pleased to be selected by TFN to present our charity at their event on 15th September.   We were one of four charities – two UK-based and two working overseas – and we each had a target of £6,000.

Our ask was for a part-time physiotherapist and a carpenter, and we are happy to report that we more than achieved our target.  Zakir, who never wastes time,  has  already taken on a part-time carpenter.   Here is a photograph of his first lesson.

To The Funding Network and to all their guests and supporters:

This is a huge thank you from Bhola’s Children for your generosity last Thursday evening.

The  committee members of Bhola’s Children Special School Bangladesh, Zakir, the staff and all our children have asked me to thank you for donating so generously.

I was thrilled to have an opportunity to tell you about our charity, thank you for listening and for your positive feedback.   We all hope you will want to keep in touch and possibly even visit our home.   

Meanwhile thank you again so very much for raising such a wonderful sum of money for us.

Very best wishes,
Dinah Wiener

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Received a wheelchairs from CoastGuard

From Zakir, our Director:

Dear All,

I am glad to inform you that we have received five wheelchairs from CoastGuard on 14th June 2016. They handed over the chairs along with support for two other regular schools in a event with many media and other distinguished guests. Myself and Tanvir attended.

We have good relation with them and they have been a good support. They promised more support in the future years.

Best regards


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Our children sing farewell to Philip Westbury

Dinah has known and loved Philip for ten years.   He was so disabled at birth, he was not expected to live three days.  Instead, he lived nearly 31 years.

His mother Helen was the first donor to set up a substantial standing order.  When we asked for sponsorship for our auto rickshaw, we painted each donor’s name  on it.  Helen made up the shortfall and we thought it appropriate to put Philip’s name in full.   Philip sadly died just before Easter and the children made this video in the hope of comforting Philip’s family before the funeral on April 15th.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It is a year since Zakir took over officially as Director of Bhola’s Children Protibondi School, now renamed Bhola’s Children Special School – Bangladesh (BCSB). Anne and I were delighted with what he has achieved. The atmosphere in the boundary was excellent, everything indoors and out was neat and tidy, and  the staff seemed happy – although stretched to their limits since we now have 53 children – 31 boys and 22 girls. We urgently need another teacher and a full-time labourer to help Dipok and Iqbal.

My great joy was seeing our three deaf boys Ahasan Ullah, Hassain and Sharadat going off to the secondary school having passed their exams. 

Zakir’s improvements to the boundary are good. The Director’s accommodation on the roof of the tailoring building is excellent. The able-bodied boys all sleep in the old tailoring room, those with mobility problems have a room on the ground floor. Asma seems very happy to use the old physio room for tailoring, and physio next to the entrance works very well. We now have a visitors’ door with a bell so the gates don’t need to be opened  and  a small waiting room. Faruk is pleased with his doorman’s office. The girls all sleep on first and second floors of the hostel, with Shefali and Sima as house mothers. We noticed how quiet it was in the early mornings without the boys below!

We had a very friendly and productive Committee meeting early in the week, with all our BCSB trustees present. They are a really helpful, intelligent and influential group of men – but we hope to have a woman on board soon. We agreed a new Memorandum of Understanding which Shawkat and I signed later in the week. They have asked to use our logo, which of course pleases us and new letter heading has been designed.

We have a new DC (District Commissioner) with whom we had a useful meeting. Unlike the previous very unpopular man (Freda and I had experience there!) he saw us promptly, was extremely charming and positive about our work, and visited us on Saturday morning. He has only just arrived in Bhola and told me it was his first official visit. As well as a tour of the boundary and a dance show by Sima and the girls, he and I laid the foundation bricks for the wall around the land I bought only about 8 years ago, and for which  the dispute has been settled at last!  It has been named Goyal Ghar which means cowshed, although I see it more as a pasture. The wall is being built now and we hope to have cows in residence next year!  

The vegetables in Valumia are spectacular. I have never known the land looking so tidy (that goes for the gardens in the boundary too) and so productive. Kamal is doing a great job and has become a valued member of the family.

Zakir and I work well together, which meant we got all the business out of the way early in the week so we could all enjoy ourselves later. We had the usual sports day and I won my first ever prize – third in musical chairs against the female staff, Anne and Zakir’s wife Neera!! The picnic was not the usual ordeal: due to a wonderful thunderstorm one night and heavy rains, which cleared the air, most of the river banks were muddy, and the women said taking food to cook outside was no picnic for them! Instead we all had an excellent lunch together at home, dressed in our best. We then piled into microbus and tractor trailer – Ronazid kindly drove the latter, it being a Friday – and went to a river bank where the boys swam. Zakir found a little motorised sailing boat which we ladies boarded for a trip up the river. Games afterwards, and everyone thought the day was a great success.