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Showing posts from February, 2008

M&E visit, Savar...

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Random...

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Picking up volunteers from the airport at 2 in the morning...
Facepainting on Language Day...

Mintou..

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My Rickshaw-wallah, Mintou...

He wanted a picture of us for his mother...

My Town...

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More Ramblings...

Every time I try to write a new update I invariably begin with "I'm so tired..."

Last Thursday was Language Day, one of the most important days of the Bengali calendar.  The link explains a little of the background, but you really have to be here to appreciate how monumental the day is.  The amount of national pride is quite staggering; although the issue of mother language was the spark for the War of Independence, it was by no means the sole cause.

I was quite fortunate to be able to take a few people to Dhaka University for the event.  Once in the middle the masses, Marcus, a Habitat UK staff visiting Habitat Bangladesh, immediately coaxed us into painting our faces with the Bangladeshi flag, just like the locals... it turned out to be a great way to make new friends!

At one point Marcus, Carla, who is a temporary visitor from Canberra, and I were interviewed for local television... the report apparently made the news, but I have yet to see the copy...

It was nice to get …

Kosovo...

I'm really struggling today.  The volume of work is ridiculous, looking forward to basketball tonight to sweat all this tension out.

It's frustrating to be so close to achieving your goals and yet be held back by red tape and processes which seem to exist only to test my resolve...

There are rules for various things, but no one can tell me why they exist.  There are constraints on activities, but no one can tell me why.  There are methods and processes, but either no one knows what they are, or no one knows where they came from so chasing anyone or anything down is a long, arduous process with very little reward...

Kosovo declared its independence last night...

It doesn't quite seem real.  Less than a decade ago the term "ethnic cleansing" became all too familiar, when Kosovar-Albanians were being massacred by Milosovic's Yugoslavian forces...

In the last 5 years or so I have been trying to track down a news report which shocked me into organizing relief for Koso…

Habitat and the NBA...

It's All-Star weekend for the NBA, which this year is being held in New Orleans...

A few high-profile stars joined in a build yesterday, doing their bit both for the city as well as the organisation.  There is a nice little write up and anecdote on Truehoop.
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Wolves...

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Hectic weekend... 3 day Invitational Tournament for my senior girls, 1 day tournament for the jnrs.

There was blood, sweat and tears, several trips to the Medic, dozens of injuries, a few angry incidents, protests, time do-overs, a double overtime game, last minute heroics, and some amazing shots... just another basketball tournament...

The Snr Wolves won a trophy, coming in 3rd in the Tournament against some great competition. That's the 1st basketball trophy in the school's history, made all the more special because this team has only been together training for 2 weeks...

The Jnr Wolves came in 4th, an astounding performance for a team full of 1st time basketball players... their final game went into double overtime, with only a 2-point loss in the end...

I'm so tired at work now, but it was worth it...

Speaking of work, this is yet another hectic week... There are 2 Global Village teams arriving, I have 5 project proposals due, 3 projects that are about to commence, a restr…

Still Trying...

Bangladesh is still trying to get over abuse of power...

From Human Rights Watch.

Bangladesh: Tortured Journalist Describes Surviving Military Beatings ‘Reform-Minded’ Government Not Addressing Arbitrary Detention and Torture (New York, February 14, 2008) – The arbitrary arrest and torture of journalist Tasneem Khalil by Bangladesh’s notorious military intelligence agency highlights abuses under the country’s state of emergency and the interim government’s failure to restrain the security forces, Human Rights Watch said in a new report today. Human Rights Watch called upon the Bangladeshi government, as well as the country’s donors, to urgently tackle the endemic problem of torture.The 39-page report, "The Torture of Tasneem Khalil: How the Bangladesh Military Abuses Its Power Under the State of Emergency," graphically details Khalil’s 22-hour ordeal in May 2007 in Bangladesh’s clandestine detention and torture system – a setup well known to the government, ordinary …

Parcels and the Post...

4 days.

4 days of visits to the post office, talking to officials, arguing with officials, yelling at officials.

4 days of emails, of telephone calls, of trips around town.

4 days to track down a package from home that arrived over a week ago.

4 days.

4 days of wasted time, wasted effort, wasted resources.

Last night I finally received a call from the post office; my package had arrived, come and get it in the next 20 minutes... so off I go, hailing an auto-rickshaw (I refuse to call them CNGs), fighting traffic, arriving in 19 minutes... only to be told there is tax to be paid on my package...

Why?  No one can tell me.

Says who?  Bangladesh Customs.

So 4 days and 40 minutes later (I spent another 20 minutes arguing yelling at everyone in sight) I finally gave in, paid the fee and took my package home...

So worth it.

Opening the package was like a scene from an old Biblical movie; light shone from the box, angels sang, small animals perched around me in anticipation... Elizabeth is going to give…

Wii...

Almost forgot.  I had dinner at my neighbour's house last night.  He's a great guy named Duane, runs a few fantastic programs around the country, including schools and orphanages.  He's on my softball team, the might Grace Royals, and I teach his kids basketball on Saturdays.

He also conveniently lives on the floor above me.

Last night he invited me over for chicken parmegiana and apple cobbler, the Bangladeshi version, as well as some NINTENDO WII...

Nothing like video games with kids to really brighten your day...

Another surreal moment in Dhaka.
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Spring...

Today is Pahela Falgun, the first day of Spring in Bangladesh.

Women are wearing bright yellow Saris, men are dressed up in lavish Panjabis... although Bangladesh is quite a conservative society, fabrics and dress seem to follow the rule of 'louder is better'...

Last night I joined my fellow AYADS at Mahmuda's wedding celebration.  Mahmuda is part of the In-Country Team here in Bangladesh, and was instrumental in acclimatising us to this country.  I expected a ceremony, some traditional dancing, maybe some speeches... but no, that's not how it works.  According to Jez, the ceremony itself is quite private, with only close family attending.  What we were seeing was essentially the wedding reception.  It was a spectacular affair, with 2,000 people (according to Mahmuda's mother) sitting down dinner.  It seems the central purpose of teh evening was to eat, have an awkward picture taken with the bride and groom, and then leave...

I'd like to think we made the evening…

Licence to speak...

Apparently I am forbidden from speaking to the press because I lack the necessary clearances from the Foreign Affairs Department of Bangladesh...

I have to submit a proposal detailing why I want to speak, exactly what I will be saying, and who will be there to witness it...

Everything is GREAT in Bangladesh...

Considering it seriously though, as opposed to mocking it incessantly in my head, the issue of press freedom is quite interesting in Bangaldesh.  Although at times, and I stress the term "at times", there are little evident legal barriers faced by journalists, there is nevertheless a constant fear of accepted reprisal against investigatory journalism.  I get a certain amount of amusement when browsing my daily paper at the office, with its banal stories and often questionable grammar... but remain concerned at the number, or lack therof, of in-depth articles...

A nice summary of what journalists face is available here.

Local television is not far behind; see here.

The troubl…

Living It Up...

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There's a lot of misconception about Dhaka and Bangladesh... I keep receiving emails trying to console me from living "in such horrible conditions"...

This is how I live. I think I'll be ok...

Most of the pics are just of my room. I'll get some pics of the rest of the house as soon as I can.








Ramblings...

I'm getting so much grief for writing this blog, I'm thinking of recording some of the best comments for prosperitym such as thus priceless gem:
"I had to stop reading when I got down to the UNICEF Poem..."

I admit, that's pretty funny.

A third of my assignment is finished. Hard to believe pre-departure training was that long ago. Seems like only yesterday I met Jez and Aara.

My team has a "friendly" game against the American International School tonight; I think I'm more concerend with that than the work I am doing at the moment, 2 in the morning because someone didn't do what they were supposed to...

Go Wolves...

9 Thousand Words...

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Capacity Development...

My room-mate Jez pointed out that the term is no longer "Capacity Building", rather "Capacity Development"...

Nope. Sorry guys, in a lot of situations, there is nothing to develop, it has to be built from scratch...

My mother made an interesting observation yesterday; she said that she reads my blog and sometimes can't believe that it's me... I know what you mean, Mom. After everything I've been through I finally find myself "in the field", doing what I love...

Hard to believe just a year ago I was working 3 jobs, trying to finish a second degree, not really sure where I was headed in life, despite all my goals and ambitions.

Now I am living and working in a third-world, developing country, in a position that requires all the skills I've learned both in school and on the streets, from writing to analysis to problem solving to project development and management... and perhaps most of all, hustling... who would have thought learning how to tr…

Ramblings...

I’m sitting on my bed in my “mini-apartment”, as Aara calls it.The sheet, pillow cases and cover are a gold and burgundy print, the bed shell itself a black metal composite…There is no bedside table, but rather a single chair in the same black metal, with a gold and red cushion.I have 4 plants in my room, a couple next to the door, a couple next to the balcony.Facing the bed is my mini-couch and table, where I work and study… it’s currently covered with books and magazines… Giving, by Clinton, naturally, is at the top of the pile… the GQs and Esquires are a nice surreal touch.Above the couch is one of my favorite pieces; a world map I picked up in Texas… no, Texas isn’t a Republic on this map, although I have the Texas flag strategically placed just below it…The map is a nice reminder to keep everything in context; there still remains a big world out there, even though sometimes it may seem small…A picture of my mother and one of my father take place of honor opposite the entry door.I…