The first Sunday here, it was time to go into Hili, the town where we get most of our supplies and food, to get our kemeses (traditional dress) picked out and made. It was a rainy day, when I say rainy, I mean like a shower. It took about a 30 min drive to Hili and then we all piled out with our umbrellas walking the streets first to get our pictures taken for our India visa and then to the clothing store. The shops here are made out of cement, bamboo, and lots of tin. When the rain hits it sounds as though the drops would break the roofs. As I walked in the first shop, my eyes will never be the same. There were so many patterns and styles all stacked up to the ceiling! The shop workers started to pick out designs and colors that we might like, take them out of the packaging, place them on the counter, and then looked to see the expressions on our faces, whether we liked them or not. Bangladesh people really like their bright, fluorescent, multi patterns. I got three kemeses there and then headed to a different shop. I ended up getting two more kemeses and one sahri for special occasions. After that we walked to the tailor and took a couple measurements and said they would be ready to be picked up the next Sunday. It was great getting out of our campus to see a little bit more of Bangladesh.
The rainy season is over before it turns into winter here, where it’s cooler and a little bit more dry. The rain is probably one of my favorite things about living here as it cools the temperature and I love the fresh smell and new land. Most of the kids here don’t like it because they are afraid of getting sick and they think it's really cold. I was in my apartment when the best rainfall happened. I dashed outside to run around and soak up the fresh air. It felt so good some of the girls saw me and wanted me to go upstairs to their rooms. I went up there and they thought I was Pāgala, meaning crazy, for running around in the rain, but it was too good to pass up. Then we went up on the roof, played around in the large courtyard “pond,” and then we were soaked and filled with laughter. It was a good day not only because of the rain but because I was able to connect with some of the kids that I hadn’t been able to before.
There has been lots of injuries and sickness here in the short time I’ve been here. It has been extremely fun helping out in the clinic. One of the SM’s just graduated with her RN license and has taken the clinic over since she has been here. One of the smaller boys named Abraham had mumps. The poor boy had a swollen neck for a few days, but then was better within a week. Praise God no one else got it. There is always someone who is sick or hurt, mostly minor things. However, not too long ago, one of the men working on building the girls dorm was carrying a large rock on his shoulder and somehow it fell right on his head then rolled off. He came to the clinic with blood all over his head. We cut chunks of hair off to see what the damage was, then cleaned it. That took a long time because there were bits of rock and dandruff from not washing his hair. We put some ointment on all the cuts and scrapes. One of the cuts was really deep, but we decided that it wasn’t bad enough to do stitches on him.
Another time the older boys were playing Kabaddi a fun tackle tag kind of game, and three of them collided with each other. Mikey somehow landed wrong and totally broke his clavicle. The bone was concave causing excruciating pain. I could see it poking out of his back under the skin! We got him to the clinic in town, but they sent him back to the orphanage for a couple of days until the surgeon could fix it. He’s healed up nicely now.
One of the older girls has been sick off and on with difficulty breathing, racing heartbeat and blood pressure. She’s been in and out of the hospital. We are still trying to help her.
Many of the women staff here are always asking about getting their blood pressure checked. Many of them have all the symptoms of diabetes. Unfortunately one of the staff went to the hospital one night recently and died the next morning from kidney failure due to uncontrolled diabetes. Lots of people were devastated. It makes me mad that their diabetes could have been controlled and taken care of, but people here are so poor and don’t understand or know how to keep their bodies healthy. We are hoping to get a health screening going soon to help with this problem
Of course we’ve had lots of minor cuts and injuries too.
Bangladesh is polluted, there are trash piles everywhere you look. Driving out of Dhaka, were mounds upon mounds of trash. The air is thick with rotten and sewage types of smells. Dogs using their paws and digging for any kind of sustenance. An old, frail, shirtless man sitting on a pile of trash with an umbrella, shielding himself from the crippling heat. People looking around for anything that looks like it could be reused.
On the way back to Bangla Hope, from SAMS, I couldn’t believe my eyes but we passed two huge ELEPHANTS on the road. Robyn said that he has only seen about nine elephants and he has been here for six years. I couldn’t believe it! Only the second full day of being here and I have already seen these magnificent beasts.
After church and lunch the first Sabbath here, we took a van and headed out to an Adventist boarding school called SAMS (Seventh-day Adventist Maranatha Seminary), holding about 800 students. A long time ago when Bangla Hope was working on having a school on its campus, they were only able to have up to 6th grade and some of the older kids had to be sent away to SAMS. Bangla Hope now has up to 9th grade and hopefully 10th grade by January at the beginning of their new school year. There are approximately 25 students who are from Bangla Hope at SAMS and we try to visit them often. Some of the Bangla Hope students were getting baptized, for that reason we went over on that Sabbath. SAMS has a ginormous campus. And it was great to meet the older Bangla Hope kids too. The coolest surprise of was to witness how many students gave their lives to Jesus.
We arrived late afternoon on a Thursday, student week of prayer, at Bangla Hope. The kids had a week off from school because they had exams the previous week. The guest speaker’s names were Elder Shin, Dr. Joo, and Pr. Lee from Korea. It was comical because Elder Shin was speaking for Friday night vespers in Korean, Pr. Lee was translating it into English, and then one of the Bangla Hope members translated English to Bangla. That was a very long sermon or should I say sermons.
The first morning I was in Bangladesh, I decided that I would write things down that I found interesting and/or exiting. Observation #1 - As we were heading out of Daka the first morning I saw not just one but multiple people washing their vehicles with a water hose. I found this interesting because all the streets in Bangladesh are dirty whether that be mud or pollution or... People in Bangladesh often do get dirty, but they do value being clean as well. Taking showers, doing laundry, and even cleaning muddy feet is important to them.
The first few days were harder than I thought. A lot of the kids have brothers and sisters with two parents at home, but were convinced to send one child to Bangla Hope for a better life or the family didn’t want one of their children. Because of this there is a lot of pain and with that comes anger that tears people down. Many of the kids will be sweet for a minute and then decide they hated me just because of something microscopic. Everyday I never know who is going to love or hate me. It’s hard when all the kids need love but you only have one voice, two eyes, ears, hands, and feet. I pray everyday for wisdom, patience, and most of all love.
Usually there is never one on one time with a kid because there are always kids using me as a tree, screaming, and shouting anything and everything to you. “Look over here! Play with me! Listen to me! Help me! Look at me!” This is just the way it is, and now my voice has been out for a week.