Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Last Wednesday we finished our work, described in the latest 'posts', on what concerns to updating the students' files. The method to take this task on, proposed by us, consisted in visiting the schools and their classes, day after day, taking pictures of the students who were attending. We took notes about the differences between the number of enlisted students and the number of students attending not regarding why some of them were not attending school ( temporary or definitive absence ). In the second part of our work we proceeded to the identification of the photos by writing the name ( the first name and parents' name whenever possible ) on each photo with the help of a student of each class in the new school (EK College). In the nursery and preschool we have been helped by the respective managers.
In the afternoon, we attended a party on the top floor of EK School in which some of the students danced and sang for an audience of teachers and staff of The Dhaka Project. We came to know that it was The Dhaka Project Education Director's birthday party. First of all we felt surprised by the fact that we could hardly see a few students among the audience. Second, we felt very sad because the students who had been entertaining the audience (or at least the most of them) were sent out after eating a slice of cake and before the ordered food have been served. Not feeling identified with this behaviour we also left the party.
In Bangladesh, the weekend is on Fridays. And people work every other days. This could take us to conclude that they work for more time there than we do in Portugal or other western countries. But this country has many holidays what causes lots of lost time and, for a project like ours, this means students without support and without food, not only one day per week, but two. This was what happened on 31st July (government day) and 1st August (Friday).
On Thursday, though it was a holiday and The Dhaka Project Office was closed, we have gone with a local team member - Jewel - to visit a company in the Sector 12 of Dhaka. We got the contact with this company because Cristiana had kept a business card given by a guy who had been in the same flight with her some time ago, owner of a company in Trofa-Portugal that had contacts in Bangladesh. After meeting them we realised that the idea was sending items to Dhaka through this company in Portugal but it dimmed out because the company only imports from Bangladesh.
During these two days we visited some family houses, hanged around, not forgetting to drop by the old Dhaka. In this city we realised that the streets (narrow ones, even much narrow) are divided by activities. For example, construction materials in a street, butchers in another street, pan traders (different pan shapes from the ones used by us), in which they cook rice and Dahl (a kind of lentils) or simply to keep or carry water.
When the distances were farer than 2km, our transportation means were tuk-tuks, kind of taxis even with taximeter that had practically no effect. In all trips we were warned before starting that the price would be the settled plus 20 Tk, allegedly for the rising fuel prices. But at moment of the payment, we had to argue with the drivers because they used to 'forget' about the change most of the times.
In a narrower street, the driver caused one of 'our' tuk-tuk's wheel to get stuck to a rickshaw wheel in the middle of the street with hundreds of tuk-tuks, cars, rickshaws and many hundreds of people walking. The interesting thing was that while they were trying to work out the problem, people passed inddiferent over the rickshaw as nothing had happened. Meanwhile the intensive traffic became chaotic in that street. For some moments I thought about Portugal, and in the Portuguese custom that consists in everybody stopping to see the accidents so causing chaos in traffic. The result is practically the same, (chaos in the traffic) except for the fact we don't walk over the cars in an accident...

Pedro and Cristiana

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