Bangladesh Adventures

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Beggars in Dhaka

I have received some money from a cousin church’s youth to help beggars. We have given tons or at least over 350 packs of high energy or milk biscuits to beggar/street children and older beggars. Our car gets mob on certain nights if we are out because the children know we have biscuits for them. The problem is we don’t usually have our camera with us and when we do the children are not out that night. There is no rhythm or reason for when beggars and street children are on the roads. I have attached two pictures of beggars but they do not capture the many children we see on the streets. They are of a mother with a sick boy and a mentally retarded teenager. I will continue to try to get you the picture of the children.

One of the interesting things we have found out since giving biscuits is that older women and mother that beg prefer biscuits to money. Before we always gave money. I have different theories on beggars:

  • poor people that can not get jobs, usually mother with babies (I feel they are real beggars)
  • very poor sick or scarred people that are syndicated by some thugs to collect money (the beggar gets only a little of the money or none, but most goes to the thugs) This is horrible but happens a lot
  • Street children who do not have parents or who have run away from bad parents.

Anyhow, Nita and I are finding out that (after 20 years here) that many of the poor women who can’t get jobs and beg must have to pay some money to the police or thugs to stand at the corners so they prefer to have biscuits. They can eat the biscuits and destroy all proof that they received anything. We give out many biscuits now. I still give money for some of the beggar women or retarded men I have known for the last four years. Most of the women are from broken marriages from rickshaw whalla’s (pullers). In Muslim society a man can divorce his wife by says, “Divorce, Divorce, Divorce” in front of a witness. You just need to say divorce three times and your divorce. I have seen rickshaw pullers divorce one wife (a beggar) for another wife (beggar) because he thought the other women beggar had more money. These are very poor people. They make less than one dollar a day- that is poor and that is poverty you have not witnessed in USA.

The children are so happy when they receive the biscuits and there is a group of boys we would like to give school bags (backpacks) too but have not done it yet.

Here are two messages from the words of Jesus for your youth at church to discuss: (there is no simple answers)

  • Luke 6:30 “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” Jesus’ commands us to give to everyone who asks you for something, that is his words there is no way to get around it. If a beggar comes up to you and ask for money, Jesus tells us we should give to that person. He doesn’t say what to give but to give.
  • Mathew 26:10 & 11, Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.

I hope this helps a little.

The chance to see in Bangladesh

I have heard of this floating hospital in Bangladesh and all the good work they do but have never seen it. Here is a story about the floating Hospital from BBC:

Four million people live on the banks and islands of the Brahmaputra river in Bangladesh. The only substantial medical facility is a floating hospital providing healthcare for local people.

A line of elderly people with pieces of masking tape stuck on one eyebrow queued up in the narrow corridor on board the old French barge. They were here for cataract surgery to restore their sight and the masking tape marked the eye needing attention. "In the excitement people forget which eye it is," the surgeon told me.

There was not exactly time for tender loving care here. It was more of a production line. After queuing in the corridor each patient was quickly taken into a side room and without a word given an injection in the eye.

Then, as soon as the anaesthetic had time to work, they were led into the operating cabin. Seven minutes later the surgery was done. It was so fast that while I was interviewing the surgeon, I glanced down at the bed and already a different patient was lying there.

Not a moment was lost, allowing the surgeon to do more than 100 a day.

Floating healthcare

The red, white, and blue barge was sailed all the way from France by a charity called Friendship.

In this part of Bangladesh it is not possible to build a permanent hospital because every time the river floods the sandy islands crumble and disappear, often reappearing somewhere else. So most of the people are nomadic, moving to new land each time their island sinks.

They live in small thatched huts without electricity and in some islands there is not a single boat, but however remote the island, word gets round when the floating hospital is in town. After spending the night on a nearby houseboat, we wake to find that fishing trawlers are already dropping off hundreds of people from nearby islands. They sit in lines on the brown, sandy shore in the shade of black umbrellas, each person holding a referral form from the mobile paramedic team.

Then comes the tricky bit. Getting onto the hospital ship. This means negotiating 20ft (6m) of narrow gangplank, supported high above the water by rickety bamboo scaffolding. The crowd are entertained by my attempts to balance with my recording equipment and trailing wires. It reminds me of the high beam at school. But somehow relatives manage to carry elderly, disabled people along this precarious gangway. Inside it does feel more like a boat than a hospital. It is very cramped and certainly not hi-tech.

But the European doctors told me the biggest shock for them was the lack of privacy. They have to get used to consultations accompanied by a couple of faces looking through the window and three or four more people watching from the doorway. I found myself squeezing past a young man in the corridor and he was keen to show me his hand. He had been burnt so badly by boiling rice water as a baby that with no treatment available his hand had curled into a permanent fist. More than 20 years later, he had finally just had surgery to open it up again, and this he told me would change his whole life.

It was not just that he could not use his hand before. Because of cultural strictures against eating with his left hand he had never before shared a meal in another person's home. After this one operation he could socialise publicly and even get married.

In a tent on the bank the previous day's cataract patients waited to have their bandages removed, after spending the night in a temporary hospital ward in a tent on the shore.

Thirty wooden beds were lined up with no space between them. In the past so many family members would accompany patients and share the bed at night that the wooden bed frames often snapped - so now it is strictly patients only after nightfall.

Update on Soccer:

At the Sir John Wilson School Tournament Grace under 15 boys went 0-1-2. Charles and Chase were both depressed and thought Grace would never win a game. I had to give them a fatherly pep talk and give them some gum (was it gum or a life saver in the old ads?). Anyhow, what a difference a week makes. On Friday, 15 Feb Grace Under 14 boys were invited to the American School tournament. Grace went 4-0-0 and won the tournament. They won their first game 2-0 with Chase scoring both goals, their second game was 2-1, and their third 1-0. That put them in the championship from their pool, which they won 1-0 with Charles doing extra work on defense for a boy on the American’s school who is from Scotland- Scotty is his name. Ggo figure- Scotty from Scotland. Of course as the proud father-, I could tell Charles and Chase I told you so!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Big week of Soccer for the Stout Boys

We usually don’t get to play this much soccer.

Wednesday: Warm up for up coming tournaments. Grace’s team with Charles and Chase played three warm up games against American International School. We had three disappointing loses. The score for each game was one-nil. So that was three loses. However, that was against the American’s A, B and C team. Charles plays defensive and Chase is a striker. He also, played goalie in the last game. The only score was a beautiful bicycle kick by one of the American boys against Chase in goal.

Friday: French Tournament at the French School. Chad was on the under 9 team. They played four games. They lost the first two and won the second two. They kept getting better each time. The coaches had never worked with the team so they didn’t know who to put in goal at first. After they figured that out, by the third game, they started to win.

There is no doubt that Chad is the striker. He scored 7 goals in four games, in fact he was the only scorer for his team. However, he did make nice passes and good corner kicks. He’s funny, he looks the part of a striker (European) with his long hair.

Chase played for an International team called “Most Wanted” in the under 15. He was goalie for one game and defense for another. Most Wanted played four games and lost out in the semi-finals.

Big new from the French Tournament: Graces’ under 6 year olds won their division. It was funny to see them running around. C.J. played on this team even though he is only four years old. They needed 5 players and only had four so they asked C.J. to play. After they received a very big Championship trophy, I told C.J. that they won the tournament. He replied, “Yes, we won but we did not pass the ball!” They were a mob around the ball.

Saturday: Sir John Wilson School had an invitation tournament for under 15 boys and girls. Charles and Chase played with Grace. Grace had three games and did not make it out of their group. Charles was defense in two of them and striker for one. Chase was striker in all three. They went 0-1-2. To say the least Charles and Chase were not happy but Grace is not a powerhouse in the older boys’ soccer. They don’t have a regular coach, a field to practice on or practices. Sidenote: it was overcast and rainy today at the games, unusual for Bangladesh in February- it is usually mild and sunny.

Teachers Needed for Grace International School

Currently available positions (for August 2008)

Grace International School- this is where Charles, Chase, Chad and CJ go to school with around 180 other students from around the world.

Teachers are drawn from a variety of countries and are encouraged to use the skills developed in their own educational systems to adapt the material available (primarily from the UK) to our needs. Being a small school we ask our teachers to be flexible in the areas they teach as we seek to cover all areas. Many of our teachers will be either continuing with their existing contracts or renewing for next year but some are moving on. We are currently looking to recruit in the following areas:

Curriculum Coordinators

We need experienced teachers, preferably with a working knowledge of the English National Curriculum, to assist the management in coordinating the curriculum throughout the school. Two positions are becoming vacant – one at Primary (Key Stage 1/2) and the other at secondary (Key Stage 3/4). The coordinators would also need to take a substantial teaching role but there will be ‘management time’ available.

Primary Class Teacher

We are looking for one (possibly two) Primary teachers to take classes at Key Stage 2 level. The class teacher would be expected to teach a full range of subjects at this level although there may be some support available in specialist areas such as Music or ICT.


We would like to recruit at least one teacher able to teach one or more of these subjects to work alongside two other teachers in this area at Key Stage 3/4. A Biology specialist with some Maths would be our preferred choice. ICT and Maths is taught throughout KS3 and 4. Currently students at KS4 study three separate sciences while at KS3 Science is taught in an integrated way.

History Teacher

We would like to recruit a teacher to deliver the IGCSE History curriculum and take some classes in lower down the secondary section.


While this would not constitute a full-time position in itself, an ability to teach lessons in this area would be helpful in any of the above. Equally a Sports specialist who has the ability to help out teaching in other areas would be considered. Plus, we need coaches!

GIS is a growing Christian School teaching a British-based curriculum to expatriate children (3 to 16 years) from 30 countries. We have recently expanded to offer IGCSE courses.

We invite applications from qualified and enthusiastic teachers looking for opportunities in Christian service.

The school offers:

· Well-motivated children

· Living allowance and accommodation

· Annual return flight

· Free schooling for children

Further details from the Principal.


Grace International School’s History

In 1975, several of the missionary organisations in Dhaka pooled resources and opened the “Christian Primary Education Centre” (CPEC). The school provided an alternative to the other options in Dhaka which were either considered too expensive or not appropriate to the needs of the expatriate community.

Over the years, the face of missions has changed and some of the founding organisations no longer operate in Bangladesh. In July 1995 in the face of Government restrictions on visas, the school took out it’s own registration with the Government of Bangladesh as a division of a company. This allows the school to operate independently and also to obtain work permission and legal visas for its employees. At this time the name “Grace” was chosen for the school.

The school is principally for the children of Christian families, but also accepts other children providing the parents are happy for the children to be exposed to the Christian teaching of the school.

During the summer of 1997, Grace International School moved to the “diplomatic zone” of the city. This move made the school more easily accessible to many sectors of the expatriate community. Increasing numbers required that the school become a “split site” from August 2000 and a second building was rented to accommodate a First School – children aged 3 to 7 years. During the last year (2006-7) we have moved the 3 and 4 year-olds to a separate, third site and moved 8 and 9 year-olds to the First School. This has created more space in the Upper School site where we are expanding to deliver a full IGCSE curriculum to Years 10 and 11.

Who are the Children we Teach?

As per the approval granted for the school by the Government of Bangladesh, to be considered for entry into the school the child must hold or be included in a foreign passport and also have a parent with a foreign passport. The school is particularly for children of expatriate employees of companies in Bangladesh under the Government of Bangladesh Foreign Investment Programme and for the children of expatriate Christians, that is those who subscribe to the Grace statement of faith. All parents must agree to their children taking part in the full curriculum of the school, including assemblies and Christian teaching.

In order to promote a Christian environment Grace International School is committed to ensure that Board members, Principal and teachers accept and uphold the Grace “statement of faith”. Teaching will incorporate Christian values and Biblical teaching. The school will expect a high standard of behaviour based on a love of God and concern for others. The school will seek to provide an education at a fee that the target group can afford.

Grace International School offers a quality education to meet the individual child’s needs, provided by appropriately qualified, experienced and committed teachers. Quality education is facilitated through an activity-based curriculum in small classes. The opportunity exists for children to attend a pre-school. There is also provision, where appropriate, for English language support.

Currently, all of our teachers are expatriates from a variety of countries. We have had teachers from the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, Fiji, Finland, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Canada and the US. This diversity is a great asset to our school.

Too Much Travel

If your counting my travel: August 07- return from USA; Sept 07- work shop in Colorado and Hong Kong; Oct 07- India for offices visits and Pennsylvania for Elliot’s (nephew) wedding; Nov 07- China for spiritual retreat and Thailand for conference on Children at Risk; Dec- Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand working with my counterparts in the field offices; Jan 08- Colorado for training and then Hong Kong to give the training. Now to the future, please pray for: Feb 08 two field offices in India- Kolkata and Chennia; March 08- family holidays in Nepal to hike/climb to 13,600 feet in the Annapurna Sanctuary outside of Pokarra; April 08- give grantsmanship training in Indonesia; May 08 to Africa for a CIV workshop; June 08 to Malaysia for my courses in Holistic Child Development (I’m still working on my master’s degree in HCD); July 08 back to the USA to see Mom and family.

Please keep Nita, the boys and me in your prayers. I travel too much!

Global Interchange System

My new role with Compassion is working with funding outside the sponsorship money. We call this ministry Complementary Intervention (CIV) because it complements our sponsorship ministry. Compassion receives money from Donors and Foundation from around the world to do creative development projects among the communities, families, and children we work with. This is funding outside of sponsorship. Sponsorship money is tied into the child being sponsored. Where this money can be used for many different things.

In early January, I traveled to Compassion’s Global Ministry Center to receive training on using a new system to attract donors and keep information stored for all the proposals and final reports we have- now days. The new system is called “Global Interchange System (GIS).” It is a great improvement to the CIV ministry. CIV money now is about 40% of Compassion’s total budget so you can see it is growing and involves a lot of money, which means lots of donors and foundations out there. Anyhow, I received training on how to use the system.

Then at the end of January, I traveled to Hong Kong to give the training to the seven field offices in Asia that I’m responsible for. It was a great week that went very quick. Myself, and two staff from GMC gave the training. I was afraid it would drag out with nothing to train on or blank stares of the participants. But it was a good training on the new GIS system and we had fun together. However, it was cold and rainy in Hong Kong- overcast everyday.

More information on Complementary Interventions. CIV are additional benefits offered to Compassion-assisted children, families, or communities outside of the core programs that are funded by individual sponsorship. The activities could be but are not limited to: Bibles, Curriculum Development, Extra Educational funds, non-formal education, health, major medical, Partner Development, Parental education, advocacy for children, AIDS Initiative, Water Projects, Microenterprise/Income Generation, and Large Scale Disasters to name a few.

Christmas 07 in Noakhali, BD

Once again, we traveled to Nita’s bari (homestead) for the Christmas holidays. Its always nice to be out of Dhaka and the 15 million people. We drove down on 23 Dec with Prova (Nita’s younger Sister); Obima and Obi (cousin’s wife and son) and our family. The drive is normal for Bangladesh 6 hours for about 120 miles with plenty of animals (cows and chickens), buses, and trucks all over the road. My favorite is when a slow bus overtakes a slower bus as you come hurling at them on a single lane road. Even though the buses are coming at you and are in your lane they never think of getting over- they expect you to get off the road and let them pass.

It is always cooler in Noakhali, about 45 to 75 *F but damp. We even made a small fire this year so CJ could roast his marshmallows. You know you live in a third world country when your child receives marshmallows as a Christmas gift and he is very happy. In fact, all the boys and all of their cousins were happy to roast and eat marshmallows. Chase likes them burnt so that helps since the cousins’ had never roasted marshmallows before- they burnt a lot of them.

We took the parish Father and 3 Roman Catholic Sisters to a rural catholic church for Christmas Eve service. We have done this for the last four years- it has become a special family tradition to help the father and sisters plus visit relatives at their small church, maybe 20 feet by 30 feet- packed on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning the boys open their few presents then we go to church- you can see we all wore red this Christmas to church, Prova is the lady at the end.

A special highlight of this break was our good friends the Larson’s (Lutheran Pastors) serving here in Bangladesh with their four kids came and spent 3 days at Nita’s bari. It was great showing them her homestead, school, where I worked and going on long walks thru the rice fields. We even had a big adventure- we drove down to the Bay of Bengal. This was no easy task. They learn a key vice of mine- never say you can’t do something. The road kept getting smaller and smaller but I wouldn’t stop. The Bangladesh government had just recently finished a bridge that took us farther down the coast which I had never been to. The road became a rickshaw path then an old trail but we made it close enough to walk the final kilometers. The Bay of Bengal is more like a river at this point and it was low tide. So the kids (eight of them) had to walk in the mud and splash in the water (see pictures).

One of the pictures is of CJ and Gracia eating supper in typical Bengali fashion- sitting on stools with two aunts pushing the food in. Aunt Prova is feeding CJ and Aunt Pana (Nita’s brother’s wife) feeding Gracia. Gracia has always like CJ since she came here three years ago- she was only one then. The funny part is CJ has always known Gracia likes him so he isn’t always nice to her- We have our work cut out with him.