Saturday, 25 October 2008
With MRDF in Bangladesh - Day 3
Today, Saturday, has been a day of real contrast.
It began with meeting David and Sarah Hall and their two lovely children Rebecca and Rueben. They are a Mission Partner family serving wth the United Church of Bangladesh. As this is a United Church the Methodist Church works jointly with 4 mission agencies - CMS, USPG, CWM and the Church of Scotland. David is working in the Community Development area of the Church and Sarah is involved with the Church Schools. They have recently managed to purchase a car so after three years of travelling to work in rickshaws and on the bus they are elated to have easier access and mobility. We had a good conversation together whilst Rueben, a year old, was running around the room as we shared breakfast together. It was fascinating hearing something of their story and to see the church and country through their eyes. They are very settled in Dhaka and ask us all to continue remembring them in our prayers.
We had been invited out for lunch by the Chairman of CSKS, Abul Mansur. He arrived with Prince, the Director and we were greeted by a vision of loveliness as Amanda and Audrey had bought the outfits they had been looking at last night. We were taken to a very nice restuarant and had a wonderful meal with a very deep conversation on the political situation in the world, the state of religion in Bangladesh and a quick overview of the US elections.
We left, as we arrived, in pouring rain and it has been the same all day. We went to New Market area and were taken to the CSKS centre which took us all by suprise. This centre for 25-30 boys was so small, compared to the others we have visited. There were two small rooms where they did their classes - education and tailoring - as well as eating and sleeping. It is expensive to rent property in this area of Dhaka and they would love to find somewhere with more space. What a contrast to the lovely airy spacious restuarant we had been in an hour earlier! At this New Market centre we met 3 boys who have been able to register and go to the local school. They proudly put on their uniforms for us to see.
We left here and were taken to the main bus station, the largest in the country, where many children sleep and work. It is the first point of entry for children from out of Dhaka and so it is also a very transitory population of street children. The rain was preventing the children from working in the area we had gone to see but as we were driving passed two boys from the Mirpur centre. We stopped to chat to them and they each held half full bag of rubbish - rags, bottles, plastics and paper. They sell the full sack to a man in a shop but I haven't found out what he does with it.....hopefully I will by tomorrow!
We went on to the Mirpur centre and here there are about 50 chilen who have 4 rooms in hchto live, play an learn. The girls sang and danced for Amanda and Audrey whilst I sat with the boys trying to learn Karan - a game where you try to get small discs into corner holes by flicking a large disc...........it took a while but I think I grasped it....but failed miserably when I played!! They children moved into their vocational training about 6pm. The girls were dress making and learning embroidery whilst the older boys were making ladels, stools and tables. In the other two rooms younger children were learning basic words, numbers, sentences and reading. Here we discovered two of the girls who are going to the local school and as before they went and put their uniforms on and stood proudly before us so we could take some photos.
Our last visit was to return to the bus station where CSKS are allowed to hold one of their 'classrooms under the sky' groups. This means that they have shelter and electricity. There were about 30 children with 2 teachers just begnning to get underway as we arrived. A large crowd gathered when they saw us arrive but they were kept away fom the children by a large rope around the classroom area.
As we looked into the faces of these particular children it was if we could see all human pain and endeavour etched into their faces and bodies, their need for recogniton, their need for touch, the hurt, fear, pain and bewildered look in their eyes, the colouration of their skin....
We sat among them...Amanda caused real bedlam by taking some of their photos....so in the end we took one of the whole group - they were excited and we were humbled.