Bangladesh Adventures

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Sad News-Sumon Saha

Our precious ten-year-old registered boy child, Sumon Saha who had advance stages of Leukemia passed away today in transit from the hospital in Dhaka to his home in the rolling tea garden of Sylhet, northeast Bangladesh.

When he first went to Apollo hospital in Dhaka, he was admitted directly to ICU on 12 May. After a week, they moved him to a general bed but he continued to need oxygen and AB+ blood transfusions. They where trying to stabilize a number of infections in his body. The doctors had hoped to stabilize him to start Chemotherapy.

However, by the end of May his platelets and Hemoglobin counts became dangerously low. His condition was critical and they returned him to ICU. After ten days in ICU they discharged him from the hospital under his parents care. On the way today, 21 June 2007, from the hospital to his house in the ambulance he passed away. It is about a 6-hour trip from Dhaka to Sylhet.

Please pray for his family. His Dad is a day labor at the tea gardens so he has not received a pay in the last two months. Thank you all who have been praying for him.

Reaction Paper Day Four for Dr. Keith White

HCD 502 Chilhood in Cultural Context

Thursday, 21 June 2006

Reaction Paper:

1) Thank you so much for both the “The Stockholm Declaration” and your response to the Stockholm Document. I’m torn between both positions. In Compassion Bangladesh we have 63 projects with seven of them being “Orphanages.” I believe that children should be with their parents in the Compassion model but there is no doubt that in the Bangladesh context we need orphanages for very poor families that cannot even feed their children. I’m not happy with how the orphanages we support are managed. However, I must admit that the children seem very happy and exceeding in school and the arts. Your article helps me in accepting the orphanages but adds responsibility to how we (Compassion Bangladesh) help develop the church to take care of the orphanages we support. The key for me is making the orphanages the best place we can on the limited budget we have. Nevertheless, the most important thing for me is that the children (in our projects) are happy and loved!

2) Yesterday in my reaction paper I asked, “So why I agree with you that culture and childhood is very important I’m not sure what we are to do with it?” Well today, you answered my question, thank you! In fact, my wife and I have been doing it all along. My wife and I need to be “mediators” between our sons understanding of our family culture/beliefs/values and the “6 Important Aspects of Contemporary Cultural.” What a relief to know we have been doing this, maybe not the best but still working and praying on it. We need to continually mediate to help then understand, perceive and contemplate our values and the contemporary culture of media, global corporate bodies, consumerism, changes in family life & relations, rights & democracy, and global warming & environment. I have many examples of how we are doing it but not room to write here and you do a better job than we do (you’re a deep thinker).

3) Finally, thank you for letting us express ourselves and childhood through Art, Stories, Celebration, Games, Music and Food. There is so much to learn about children and childhood when you take these six categories and place them against your framework for exploring histories of childhood. Then placing that up against the Contemporary Global Context of Children and Childhood!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Reaction Day Three Dr. White's Class

HCD 502 Chilhood in Cultural Contexts
Wednesday, 20 June 2006

Reaction Paper:

1) “Children at School” by Mackinnon: The story of Anita sums up Bangladeshi schools i.e., the teacher tells them what they need in the Chennai school but the school in the UK expected the students to find the answers! How do we change the Bangladesh school system from rote to finding their own answers?

2) I had never thought of Manifest and latent functions i.e. Compassion’s Manifest is releasing children from poverty; however, one of the latent functions is a place to get a good hot meal for poor children.

In our group on “WORK and Children” our Manifest was “work is for a better life.” However, some of the latent functions are:

  • By working I can help my family
  • By working, I don’t have to listen to anybody (parents, teachers, adults)
  • Work is forced and slavery
  • Work is used for education

3) Culture is so important:

  • Culture makes children different then apes or chimpanzees
  • Culture prepares a child to go into the world
  • Greatest Development in a child is culture
  • It invokes memory, gives a child a past, present and future
  • Provides a story for the child’s life (street children need a story)
  • Cultures provides: Language, Symbol & Signs, and artifacts

Okay, I get the point culture is important but how do we influence culture. How do I give the children of Compassion Bangladesh the best culture or my own boys? Yes, I can give them stories but I want a Christ Centered Culture for everyone of them but that is not the culture of Bangladesh or any other country! To tell you the truth, I don’t even know what culture our boys are growing up in: is it Bangladesh culture, USA culture, some International culture from their school that has children in it from 30 different countries/cultures? So why I agree with you that culture and childhood is very important I’m not sure what we are to do with it?

4) Of course, your five fingers (fundamental Needs of children) are important and I continue to marvel at how you put them all together. They all add up to: Security+Significance+Boundaries+Community+Creativity= LOVE

Reaction Day Two of Dr. Keith White's class

HCD 502 Chilhood in Cultural Contexts

Tuesday, 19 June 2006

Reaction Paper:

Note on “Children, poverty and social inequality’ by Montgomery and Burr:

Poverty is relative even in a poor country like Bangladesh. Yes, absolute poverty helps in third world countries for people from the West to understand how poor a person is but still everything is relative. Hand in hand, with relative poverty is a person’s outlook on life. Poor people who see the glass half full seem happier than a rich person who sees the glass half empty (my observation over 20 years). In addition, one needs to look at spiritual poverty and what it means in a person’s life.

Note on “Children’s changing lives from 1800 to 2000” by Cunningham:

I liked the picture of the Errand boy at a vegetable market, Oslo, Norway from 1843 (p.93). My wife goes to a vegetable market in Bangladesh at least twice a week and she uses an Errand boy (child khuli) to carry her vegetables while shopping and take them to a rickshaw. She pays the boy, age 7 to 12, 10-20 takas or US$0.15- 0.25 for the help. The boy from Norway would be at home in Bangladesh except for the heat. We don’t think about whether the boy should be working or not- we are just happy for the help and the boy is happy with the money.

Note on “Play and the cultures of childhood” by Barnes and Kebily:

This one strikes a cord with me, especially because my wife and I are bringing up four young boys in a city, Dhaka of 15 million people with no green spaces to play. This is very hard for both my wife and me. She grew up in a village of Bangladesh surrounded by rice fields and could go for a walk anytime she wanted. I grew up in rural Pennsylvania with 100 acres of fields and forest behind my house to explore, romp, and play in. As the article highlights, playing has many different forms and is important to childhood. However, the article did not look at the importance of having space to play in. Our boys play many games, in fact, Friday night is our game night but hey are all inside/board games. In addition, the school they go to does a good job of this- it is a playful atmosphere to learn and celebrate each child’s gifts. However, I’m afraid they are missing the wild side of life the outdoors!

Note on “Natural Setting” by you, Dr. Keith White:

Your article would be a nice addition to the above article on “Play and the cultures of childhood” Your thought, “But when a child interacts with the natural world there can only be growth of seedlings and saplings when a child learn to recognize and respect the unique nature of the bean or fruit that s/he is growing. The child must adapt to the plant’s timescale and needs. And in this seemingly modest process of adaptation lies the potential for human growth and relationships.” This is what I’m talking about that our boys and 10 million children in Dhaka are missing! At my home in the US we did put in a big garden each year now that is gone. I don’t have an answer to the boys not having green grass to play on but I do thing they are missing something of childhood!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

HCD 502 Chilhood in Cultural Contexts

Dr. Keith White

Monday, 18 June 2006

Reaction Paper (3 Significant Insights):

1) Maya (about 15 years old, Chittagong, Bangladesh) said this about the definition of a child, “There are more responsibilities as a wife and mother but I don’t feel like an adult. I feel I’m a young girl. I don’t feel like I’m a grown-up.”

This hits you right in the gut! The age can be as young as 12 years old in Bangladesh. It is definitely a stolen childhood. The worst part (from my point of view) is the husband is usually no younger than 35 years old. This situation is slowly changing in Bangladesh but is still not uncommon for Muslim girls to get married that young. Remember that in Bangladesh the legal adult age is 14 years old. The Bangladesh government signed the UN-CRC but changed the age to 14 not the original 18.

2) Video: Ruby Bridges (this is an excellent video- I highly recommend it). What an impact! I never understand how people can be so hateful. I also, visited the Civil Rights museum in Birmingham, Alabama and the displays where so graphic. Why do people hate somebody just for their skin color? As you know, racism is still alive in the USA. However, it is being transferred to Hispanic/Latino race.

It was amazing how Ruby could answer as Jesus did! Her mother had taught her well with the Bible. She used the follow three verses as a 6-year-old girl:

Mt 5:10 and 11: Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

Ro 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Lk 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Could I do something like that i.e. have the love of Christ for my enemies?

3) The definition of Ideology and how it is used opened my eyes. Once a society accepts an Ideology, it is very hard to change. The Ideology of Kings: Divine Right of the King took hundred of years to change in some society and continues in some lands today.

Simply stated Ideology is idea(s) or belief(s) that the whole of the Society believes in (even it hurts than).

Dr. White, Thank you for a wonderful first day! As always, I am watching your Process because process determines the outcomes: The way we do things are as important as what we do, Amen!

Stouts' Update

Nita and the boys flew home on British Airways last Thursday, 14 June. School was finished for the boys on the 12th. They arrived safely at my Mom’s house. If you would like to talk with them, the number is 717-766-8066. I will join them on 2 July then we will all come back to Bangladesh at the beginning of August.

I can’t wait to be home to see family and friends, and have hamburgers on the grill in Mom’s back yard!

Right now, I’m at the Malaysia Baptist Theological Seminary in Penang, Malaysia taking courses in Holistic Child Development. These are my courses I take every June for the last three years working towards my Master’s Degree in Holistic Child Development. This year I’m here for two weeks. The First week I’m taking “Childhood in Cultural Contexts” and then next week I take “Child Participation, Protection, and the Children’s Right Convention” both are really good classes!

I will return to BD on 29 June and then work as hard and as fast as I can to finish my year-end work for Compassion (our year-ends 30 June) before I leave on 2 July. Never a dull moment in the Stouts lives.