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.