I am currently based in Bangladesh working in a team of community worker. I am also having fun documenting all our adventures, follow my blog to keep updated with the ups and downs of living in such a beautiful yet challenging country.
This past week we have bonding as team and visiting the surrounding communities as much as possible; introducing ourselves in Bangla (well trying to),getting to know the individuals in the communities and working out what health and social issues we could work together to improve.
It’s been great fun, a particular highlight was visiting a girls school. It was an hour and a half of continuous laughter, games and them being very confident in expressing their concerns for their local villages. They were incredibly helpful and I hope I get to work with them again.
As much as we’re getting to know the locals they also want to get to know us, but it doesn’t always go smoothly. Back at the compound my friend in the room next to mine came running in, there was a young girl (around 10 years old) staring at him through his window. She then proceeded to walk round the (should-be secure) compound to our balcony and watched us hanging up our wet clothes. This didn’t concern us as she seemed very sweet and just a bit curious. But then the next thing you know she’s made a beeline for our room and is looking through all our stuff, while we were using the very little Bangla we know to usher her out she grabbed a small cake I had bought at the local market. She then decided to not only eat my one remaining cake but to force feed it to my dairy-intolerant roommate. It was all a bit bizarre but we can laugh about it now.
The Bangladeshi’s are known for their great hospitality and they have certainly lived up to their name. Almost every new person we meet comes with an invite for cha (milky tea) at their house and to meet their families. We also got invited to our local church, although not religious myself I have always been interested in religion and it was my chosen topic of my university dissertation. The church was incredibly bright and vibrant inside with pictures of flowers drawn by local school children. It was a great privilege to be invited to the church as it’s one of the oldest churches in Bangladesh.
Everyday at the compound we are cooked for by Ambi (which means grandma), but on Sunday she decided it was time for us to have a go. Two of our team members flourished in the baking hot, unconventional kitchen while the others (myself included) stood around trying not to get in the way. The result was some very tasty (non-spicy) chicken and some crushed garlic potatoes. Cooking like a local is a lot harder than it looks.
And when I say locals I also mean unwanted local animals. The grass area of the compound I’m currently living in is home to cows, chickens, baby goats and dogs which are all very well behaved. But recently thousands of ants have been making their home in the door frames of our rooms. Noting a bit of insect spray can’t sort out. But now we have a bigger, well squeakier problem, as I walked into my room last night a mouse on top of my roommate’s suitcase jumped down and hid behind our chest of draws; we can still hear it scurrying around. Hopefully the resident cat will take care of it.