Saturday, May 3, 2008

THE TESTING TIMES WE FACE

Journal: May 1, 2008

Two weeks ago I sat in Singapore Airport asking myself if I was doing the right thing in returning back to Dhaka where more problems were arising, to come and volunteer with The Dhaka Project for 4 and a half months.
For the previous 12 months I had been living and working in Dhaka – My job was the head of the IT department in the Bangladesh Government’s Rural Development Board (BRDB). Working there gave me an understanding as to why countries like Bangladesh do struggle to develop – here was the government agency responsible for the development of the rural populace (120 million). Everyday I would find staff reading newspapers, drinking tea or sleeping on their desks for all hours of the day. Bureaucracy was inherent in every little task within the organisation and therefore achieving anything was a real challenge – e.g. for a light bulb I needed for my dark office, I needed the Director of Finance’s (CFO) approval… for one little light bulb!
During my time at BRDB I heard about The Dhaka Project as one of the most groundbreaking NGO’s within Dhaka and since I first visited it 6 months ago I have seen the difference that the Project has made to not only many of the kids’ and families’ lives, but also to the general community.
In my heart I knew that coming to work at The Dhaka Project was the right thing to do. Unfortunately I had developed this hesitant state within my brain which had been influenced by spending a month back in Australia reading western newspaper reports about the problems that Bangladesh faces everyday.
These reports are always pointing Bangladesh in a southerly direction, whether it is their economic situation, the political and democratic struggle, social rights issues and even the natural disasters that Bangladesh have unfortunately become so famous for. Here are a few examples of some of the articles that I had read over the last 2 months:
Whilst these problems are real and are affecting all Bangladeshis, the Bangladeshi people have to be some of the most resilient on this earth; and as they keep getting back up after getting knocked down, it is our responsibility as the developed world to be there to offer a hand for them to stand back up on their feet. For this reason The Dhaka Project exists – through education we are creating a generational change. Our kids won’t end up being beggars, day labourers and garment workers; rather people that will ensure that this country can stay on its own feet without the developed world’s assistance – such as businessman, pilots, engineers and future leaders of this country.
No matter what problems arise, we can never walk away. For where would that leave this generation? Everyday at The Dhaka Project we are faced with many problems: from the loss of electricity to our schools and offices for 4 hours each working day; to ensuring that each family eats; to stretching every last dollar as far as possible; to working as hard as possible to make up for a shortage of staff and resources to get our tasks done – we struggle, but will never give up.
We encourage visitors to this blog to visit, volunteer, donate, or sponsor; but most importantly stay a friend of The Dhaka Project and help us through the testing times - you never know when 5 minutes of your time will change a child’s life forever.
From a personal perspective, the last 2 weeks living in Dhaka have been amazing. Where ever I walk there is a kid who wants to grab my hand and find out about Australia or a bunch of boys that have heard that I am a cricket coach and want to have a hit with me. I don’t regret thinking what I did in Singapore, but one thing that I have learnt over these 2 weeks is that:
We shall think with our brains, but we must listen with our hearts.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say that I found your blog very moving. There is a sense of relief and sadness. Relief that there are people in the world that are willing to help and sadness that there is such a polarity between where sit now in Sydney and the poverty that so many millions of people are subject to on an apparently neverending scale. Would you be able to send me details on how to volunteer. J.A.D

Dhaka Project said...

Anyone who would like to volunteer with The Dhaka Project, can find most info in our Website: http://www.thedhakaproject.org/volunteers.htm. If there are any further questions please write to us!