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.