Burkhas, Bibles and Bangladesh

“Feels like home to me, feels like I’m on my way to where I come from”

Posted by Caroline on July 9, 2010

The benefits of home come quick and fast, and if sucked in too quickly they can make you forget the past.
The smells, sights and experiences of the last month can quickly slip into just a distant memory and soon the normal can take over.
However home has many blessings and little things which make me appreciate my time in Bangladesh all the more:
*A warm shower~ makes me think back to all the cold, sometimes just a mist of showers in Bangladesh or even the times when you get caught mid shower, power goes off, and the water stops.
*Non-stop Electricity~ what a relief not to have to worry about the power going off and then trying to find the torches or candles or hoping that the IPS continued enough until the power goes off. Load-shedding is only what i can describe as a pain especially when trying to watch football and the power gets turned off four times in the match.
*Fresh milk in tea~ beats the powdered stuff and definitely beats the fresh stuff that when you just fancy a little cup of tea but the power has been off has gone off in no time.
*A Duvet~ oh to be cold enough for a duvet. In Bangladesh it was too hot even to sleep under a sheet, so a duvet at home is just bliss to cosy up to.
*Not wearing an orna~ I often wear a scarf or pashmina at home but in a style which suits me, in Bangladesh it was draped over the shoulders and chest and wrapped over the head for modesty. When the door went it was a quick dash for the ornas and when outside it was always about making sure everything was covered.
*Going outside and not being stared at~ this is the one thing about home i appreciate the most, you are no longer one of the few white people in a city, you don’t stand out and get things shouted at you. People don’t mean to be offensive but are just not used to seeing white skin.

Being home makes me appreciate Bangladesh and being in Bangladesh makes me appreciate home all the more. Both compliment the other and for me both are inseparable of the other.

Posted in Cultural happenings | Leave a Comment »

“Music fills the infinite between two souls.” ~Tagore

Posted by Caroline on July 2, 2010

Today we went to Tagore’s house, he is one of the most influencial men that Bangladesh celebrate. He is known widely for his poetry and even his artwork.
Tagore won the Noble Prize in Literature and was even friends with Einstein, Gandhi and W. B. Yates.
Tagore modernised Bengali art by spurning rigid classical forms. His novels, stories, songs, dance-dramas, and essays spoke to political and personal topics. Gitanjali (Song Offerings), Gora (Fair-Faced), and Ghare-Baire (The Home and the World) are his best-known works, and his verse, short stories, and novels were acclaimed for their lyricism, colloquialism, naturalism, and contemplation. Tagore was perhaps the only litterateur who penned anthems of two countries: India and Bangladesh.

here is one of his pieces:

When thou commandest me to sing it seems that my heart would break with pride; and I look to thy face, and tears come to my eyes.
All that is harsh and dissonant in my life melts into one sweet harmony—and my adoration spreads wings like a glad bird on its flight across the sea.
I know thou takest pleasure in my singing. I know that only as a singer I come before thy presence.
I touch by the edge of the far-spreading wing of my song thy feet which I could never aspire to reach.
Drunk with the joy of singing I forget myself and call thee friend who art my lord.

and another:
O Fool, try to carry thyself upon thy own shoulders! O beggar, to come beg at thy own door!
Leave all thy burdens on his hands who can bear all, and never look behind in regret.
Thy desire at once puts out the light from the lamp it touches with its breath. It is unholy—take not thy gifts through its unclean hands.
Accept only what is offered by sacred love.

and another:
This is my prayer to thee, my lord—strike, strike at the root of penury in my heart.
Give me the strength lightly to bear my joys and sorrows.
Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service.
Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might.
Give me the strength to raise my mind high above daily trifles.
And give me the strength to surrender my strength to thy will with love.

I’ve been really encouraged as of late by blessing, we had an issue with one girl’s passport (or lack of) when she lost it and had to apply for a temporary one and once she recieves that then an exit permit. Today we found out she wouldn’t have to pay extra to change her flight if necessary. BLESSED.
I have been thinking how generous people have been in donating to our trip and even supporting us in prayer, because of this we should be able to donate generously to some projects and workers here. BLESSED.
Our time here has been rewarding both culturally, personally and through relationships (whether Bengalis or Foreigners or team). BLESSED.
We went to village which was known for its violence and terrorist activities and nothing happened us. BLESSED.
Our health has generally been well, in that none of us have needed hospital treatment. BLESSED.
Our class were enthusiastic to learn English and the opportunities to share about our faith were numerous. BLESSED.
When we go home, we will be able to share about this time and hopefully encourage others to come and pray for this country. BLESSED.

Posted in Cultural happenings, everything else | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

too much hilarity for one day…

Posted by Caroline on June 30, 2010

Often people say that bad things happen in threes but today it seemed that hilarity happened in a batch of three for us today…

1)we taught our class the ‘trust exercise’ where one person stands infront of another and falls backwards hoping that the person behind catches them. We tried this with several students until one girl volunteered…she is tiny and reaches about my shoulder. She stood behind suzi saying ‘trust me it’s ok, i’ll catch you.’
Suzi fell backwards, expecting alot that the girl would catch her and ended up in a crumpled heap with the student underneath her.

2) Megan and I jumped on a rickshaw after teaching in the morning to go out for lunch with a teacher, the rickshaw wallah (driver) had taken me home two days before and before even instructing him he headed for home again…the complete oppostite direction to the hotel we were going to. Another member of staff had to cycle fast to catch up and redirect him

3) but by far the funniest thing was dinner at one student’s house. We arrived and got given lemon juice, we thought it would be sweet and a little bitter…
what a mistake that was, i took a drink and made a renching noise as i realised it wasn’t sugar but salt and lemon juice. what a shock that was to the system.

Posted in Cultural happenings | Leave a Comment »

the briefest update of the last few weeks

Posted by Caroline on June 30, 2010

We have internet again! Yay! It’s amazing how much of a distraction it can be but at the same time how much of a blessing it is to keep in contact with friends and family at home.
Classes are nearly at an end, they finish on thursday then we return back to Dhaka on Sunday and hopefully all depart on wednesday, arriving into the UK about 10ish at night.*

*I say hopefully all as one girl lost her passport and now we are trying to get all the correct things done in time to leave on wednesday- so please consider this.

*We had the Dhaka girls come visit us for a few days, great to be united as a team again- headed to Rajshahi and visited some workers out there, nice relaxing time.

*Teaching has been going so well, averaging 14 students per class and getting some great opportunities to share with them.
*Had several invites out from our class, one to a village 1.5hours outside of Kushtia on a local and very squashed bus, true example of hospitality. Supposedly this area is one of the worst in this district for crime and things like that, but we didn’t know this until we got back.

*Time is coming to an end and i’m so grateful for this trip, the team and the people we’ve been in contact with. This time around has definitely been different for me, not only was it shorter, in a different location but I’ve done much more touristy and cultural things than i did in my 4 months last year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

if i could change the world…

Posted by Caroline on June 17, 2010

One of our topics this week was ‘famous people’ and how they have infludence the world so for homework we asked our class to write a short piece about what they would do to change the world.
here are some of their answers:

*i would change our village society, there are many villages where girls do not go to school. Villagers think that education is not for girls, so i would like to change their views. In our country half the people are women, so without educated women development would not be possible. I want all people to be more conscious about women’s education and their freedom.
To develop the world people must develop themselves first. I would change some things like dowry and stop early marriages and provide proper education.

*i would like to change the reasons why people suffer, because we know that all the creatures of our creation are excellent, wonderful and beautiful

*I would remove the corruption in Bangladesh, corruption has become a buzzword due to its existence in all public sectors and even in private organisations. Bangladesh has been branded the most corrupt country in the world. Corruption is a social evil. To remove corruption i would have to remove the social injustice and gap between the wealthy and poor.

*education is the backbone of a nation, and can develop or restrict a nation. Many developing countries, like Bangladesh, have not produced many educated people because of poverty and high population. I want to spread the light of education.

*i would always show love to children because children are the builders of the new way.

*I would remove terrorism, it has cast a shadow across the globe and today people want to live in peace.

*Education plays a vital role in the alleviation of poverty. The benefits of education cannot be over stated, it enables us to acquire knowledge and skills, and also helps a person to understand the problems of this life and to earn a living. An educated person is an asset to his family, to his nation and to the world as a whole.

*war is the curse of every nation and cannot bring blessings and creates poverty. Those who are orphans have not only lost their parents but also their hope for this world. I would change this world by the divine glory of love and create a sense of brotherhood and friendship in the hearts of every person of the world. Love alone is a mighty power that can change this world.

*I would promote peace and love; there would be no discrimination among people. To change the world I would have to change my country. Bangladesh is a poor country and poverty is an obstacle to the way of our progress.

It’s great to get these women thinking that they are capable of change and changing others.

Posted in English class | Leave a Comment »

warning: cultures are different not wrong

Posted by Caroline on June 14, 2010

One team member has been adapting to cultural differences in a way which i admire. Every day in her journal she writes a CULTURE WARNING! which is something that she has learnt, here are some:

*A woman will not eat at the same time as a man, she will wait until she has served him all he wants and then eat herself

*it is not acceptable to travel alone with a man unless he is your husband

*fitting more than two people on a rickshaw is NOT comfortable

*think of Scottish food before you are asked in order to stop you thinking of pork, bacon, percy pigs and beer (haram foods)

*don’t smile at men to be nice, it means something much worse here

*time your toilet visits to when the power is on, last thing you want is to be caught on the loo when the lights go out

*eating with your right hand stains your fingers a nice yellow shade

*don’t say you work in an old people’s home…big social faux pas.

*going out on the balcony without your orna/scarf on is liking walking outside in your bra

*bengalis tell you when you look good and when you look rough…no win situation

*a cow or goat wandering across the road is not something to be panicing about

*buying a red sari is not a good idea, as it’s the colour brides wear here to get married.

*smiling at the men in customs does not get you through quicker, it takes longer as the men gather round and want to be ‘friends’

i’m finding it really interesting seeing all the girls reactions to things that they are seeing and experiencing for the first time, things that i’m sure i had the same reaction to last year and hopefully things that they will remember and pass onto others. I even gave one girl my camera so she can take photos and even though i’ve seen the market that we were at several times and took many photos its really interesting to see her perspective on it all.

The team has been a real blessing and encouragement so far in the week since we’ve left the UK, their enthusiasm and willingness to try new things and to talk to locals has made me reevaluate my own approaches in dealing with things, i have definitely landed myself 5 star girls who are willing to learn, share and serve, what more could i ask for.

Posted in Cultural happenings | 1 Comment »

If you can’t stand the heat…go to an ATM

Posted by Caroline on June 13, 2010

We arrived in Bangladesh on tuesday afternoon to the news that it’s the hottest day of the year so far…melting is possibly a more appropriate term.
With our hot climate comes the expected power cuts but for all of tuesday night was not what we were expecting. It wasn’t pleasant to say the least. With the no power also came no running water. Thankfully we had been provided with some clean clothes and all had some wet wipes to hand.
I get the feeling we’ll be using a lot of those this coming month.

From this things just seemed not to go our way for the first few days…
*One team member stuck her hand into some fusty toilet water to enable it to flush after another team members dodgy stomach upset.
*Myself and another girl drunk water which was for our IPS…our power supply, we realised that it had a huge warning saying DO NOT DRINK on the side, after a quick phonecall to our health person, we discovered we were at no risk just that it was telling us not to drink because it is filled with minerals and is generally more expensive.
*More power cuts and lack of water supply- it was so bad at one point that myself and another team member went to withdraw money from an atm which is in an airconditioned building…needless to say we stayed there much longer than we normally would.
*Fitting 7people into a small taxi
*Fitting 4 people and 3 large bags into a smaller taxi with one girl’s bottom left hanging out the window and my head out another
*Missing our bus to Kushtia, but then getting another one later on
*Several near death experiences on our bus ride out here

from this things can only get better…

We got told that Kushtia would be harder to survive than Dhaka, with power cuts and the heat, but so far it has been heavenly, fans in bed at night and getting spoiled by the couple we are living with.

We start teaching here today for our first day, a 2hour class with the possibility of 20 female students. Relationships are much easier to build out here than in Dhaka as people are much more flexible and relaxed here.

Posted in Cultural happenings, weather | 3 Comments »

BBC news

Posted by Caroline on May 13, 2010


have a look at these articles the BBC have released about Bangladesh

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Back to Bangladesh

Posted by Caroline on April 6, 2010

When I wrote my final blog last August, I thought that was it, no more Bangladesh and no more blog but as you can see from the title of this blogpost i’m going back to Bangladesh (incase you hadn’t already heard).
This is a well timed blog for two reasons:
1) It is a year to the day that I arrived in Bangladesh and
2) It will hopefully be 2 months til I leave for Bangladesh for the second time

It all came about after my debrief when I was asked if I would go back…YES was my immediate reaction, would I take a team back with me…that one took me a while to decide over. I’ve never lead others before and immediately I questionned why I was asked and would I be able to do it? would I be able to prepare them enough? would they share my passion?
As all these questions ran frantically through my head so also did the verse ‘Be stil l and know that I am God’ (ps 46:10).
Be still.
Be still.
What is the point of getting into a stress when God knows and comforts, so handing it over to Him I accepted the role of leader for the Bangladesh team 2010.
And from then everything has just fallen into place.
The team came together beautifully, 5 other girls and myself, I am excited and highly enthusised by their love and passion for a place they’ve never been to or don’t really know about.

Now that everyone is in place, its time for fundraising.
I’m doing a bagpack and a bangla-burger party in April
Another girl is cycling* to bangladesh…all 5007 miles.
As a team we held a ceilidh and raffled of some interesting prizes in Glasgow.
*she’s not actually cycling to Bangladesh (although that would save on airfare) but cycling the equivalent distance before we go.
You can also donate to http://www.sim.co.uk/give and tick missionaries box and enter ‘Bangladesh team 2010’

That is a year to the day runthrough in less than 500 words, impressive!

I’ll keep you up to date with team ongoings and departure dates.

In Him,

Posted in 1 | Leave a Comment »

Til next time Bangladesh, til next time…

Posted by Caroline on August 10, 2009

So i have now left Bangladesh and am on my way back to the green green lands of norn iron!
I had a lovely last day with a surprise breakfast frm my flatmate and the team i had been working with for the last four months, a lovely surprise but not at 8am when i’m not considered a morning person. After this is was of to the office to collect my passport and my exit permit and then to the very nice shop that is Aarong where I had some gift vouchers which were given to me by the wider Bangladesh team.I left with a few final gifts and 3 cartons of chocolate milk.
With the warning i had to be back at our apartment by12.30 to leave to go to the CUP office and get lunch i made my way back.
At the CUP office i was addressed as “Hey Bideshi” by a 3 yrear old which is not as funny as the fact that he callsthe staff old ladies.

So ive said my goodbyes or as i prefer see you laters!On my way back now and arrive in N. Ireland on tuesday.

Posted in everything else | Tagged: , | 3 Comments »


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.