In Bangladesh, less than 31% of women have a secondary school education and around 45% are illiterate.
I first met Monita in 2017 whilst I was living in Northern Bangladesh as a community worker. Due to Monita being so kind and welcoming we became fast friends. We travelled around rural communities delivering health and social workshops. We created the workshops together whilst Monita also taught me Bangla so we could be as effective team as possible.
Monita and I delivering a workshop on women’s health
Since I left Bangladesh Monita has carried on this great work and continues to work as a school tutor to support her mother and younger siblings. Monita has recently passed all her exams and has applied to university to become a nurse. But this costs money that she does not have.
Monita leading a workshop on her own after I left Bangladesh
So…I will be walking 800km along the Camino De Santiago from 21st August to 25th September 2019 to raise money for Monita’s Nursing Degree. The degree costs around £1500 and any money raised above this target will go towards food and shelter for her mother and younger siblings who are dependent on Monita. If you want to help, no matter how big or small, please follow this link https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-monita-become-a-nurse-for-her-community
Monita demonstrating how to do CPR
Having lived in Bangladesh for four months one of the things I was most excited about when I returned home was to get all my films developed (and seeing my family..). I am very happy to finally share the images with you which have been featured on Huck Magazine. Hit the Link to see the article!
Since moving back to the UK from Bangladesh lots of people have asked me what its like to live and travel in a developing country. So I thought I’d put together a handy little guide of tips and tricks I learnt during my time.
1.Have realistic expectations
Doing some research is a great way to set some realistic expectations and get excited for the country your visiting. For me hygiene is the biggest cause of concern, so before flying out to Bangladesh I made sure I prepared myself for having to use squat toilets that are often found outside.
2. Learn the Language
Don’t assume people will speak English, especially if you are visiting rural areas in a developing country. I have never had an ear for languages but having daily language lessons really helped me get my head around bengali and got me out of some tough situations including getting detained by immigration! It is also a great way of making connections with locals.
3. Be Wary of Food
Trying new food is one of my favourite things to do when i’m travelling. BUT this is also one of the most common causes of illness when in a foreign country. Although its hard, avoiding street food can be a great help in avoiding food poisoning along with making sure you only eat food that has been peeled or cooked.
4.Be Money Conscious
When your in a developing country your money will often go further than at home. For example, in Bangladesh buying tea and cake for my whole team (10 people) came to $1.34. But when things are cheaper than at home don’t let the locals hear your surprise/happiness at the price, this can often cause offence and the price to rise next time your at the market!
5.Prepare for the Worst
The likelihood of anything bad happening is so slim and shouldn’t worry you, but do be prepared. From having a first aid kit with you to knowing the embassy number and having travel insurance. When it comes to reviewing your best travel options I have found reviews.com really helpful especially their travel insurance guides reviews.com/travel-insurance/ .
Reviews.com top 4 travel insurance’s
I have spent the last 3 days putting together a video of my time in Bangladesh, and then holding back the tears every time my laptop decided to restart itself (at least 10 times!) but here it is, I hope you enjoy it and it gives a small glimpse into the amazing landscapes and people you’ll find in Bangladesh:
After almost 4 months my time travelling and working as a community worker in Bangladesh has come to an end. I have met friends for life and am already planning my return to the complicated yet beautiful country.
Coming back to the UK has provided some shocks; my first warm shower in over 3 months, not sleeping underneath a mosquito net or using a squat toilet and eating with cutlery! Although I oddly miss using a squat toilet..
To put my experience into perspective I have put together some facts and figures:
-Flip-Flops Lost: 3
-Weight Lost: 1 Stone
-Hospital Stays: 1
-Rickshaw Rides: 70
-Homemade Monopoly Boards: 1
-Mice Found in Bedroom: 3
-Power Cuts: 200
-Tea Breaks: 300+
-Average Temperature: 28 Degree’s
I am currently in the process of putting together a video documenting my time and developing 7 rolls of 35mm film, but for now, here are my favourite digital photos I shot during my time in the must-see country:
The day I’ve been dreading finally arrived- flying back home to the UK. I have fallen in love with the culture of Bangladesh and have made some great friends who I am very sad to be leaving behind. But I do believe once one adventure ends the next one begins and I will definitely return to Bangladesh in the future.
So after saying long goodbyes me and the rest of my team headed for the airport. We arrived 2 hours early and checked our bags in no problem. The airport wasn’t too busy and we were all looking forward to spending our leftover change on some snacks for the 14 hour journey.
The distance between Heathrow and Dhaka airport.
We headed through immigration thinking we would be there for a matter of seconds while they stamped our passports. But when I handed mine over it became very clear very quickly there was a problem. The guard called over 3 other guards and there was a lot of discussion. Without saying anything in English they then escorted our whole group to a room filled with more guards. After 5 minutes an english-speaking police officer arrived to explain we had outstayed our visa’s. This was a complete shock to us as our visa’s said they expired on the day we were leaving. It turns out you have to leave before that date, not on it. The next shock came when they demanded 58,000 taka (around $700). Having exchanged all our money back to english pounds and packed it in our suitcases we had no money on us.
After explaining this they said they would ask their boss if they could either lower the fine or let it go. After an anxious 5 minute wait the guard came back and in perfect english said ‘No mercy’. We quickly made the decision to call our colleague who had dropped us off at the airport to come back. After half an hour we managed to meet up with him, and he had been in contact with our NGO who said they would pay the fine on our behalf as it was their mistake. But another problem was that half the money they provided was english pounds so we had to race to get it exchanged as they refused to accept pounds.
Exchanging the money
After what felt like a lifetime the money was exchanged, handed over and documents were filed. But we now had only 20 minutes till our flight, so after this catastrophe we were then escorted by police onto the plane- lets just say we got some very odd/suspicious looks from the other passengers. Thankfully the rest of the journey was less eventful and we landed safely in London…
I’m currently here living in Bangladesh as part of a team of community workers. Follow me over on Instagram (@madisonbeachphotos) and here on this blog to keep updated with my adventures exploring this beautiful country..
As with a lot of things in life it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Since living in Bangladesh I have already met some brilliant people and made some great friends. And recently two of my friends, Dipo and Bunty, offered to show me and my work friends the beautiful Bangladesh landscape in a whole new way; by motorcycle.
It was great to experience the country in the way locals do, all whilst rocking some very fashionable face masks to avoid our faces being caked in dust.
Dipo and Bunty wanted to surprise us with where we were going; it was an hours ride along roads, through forests and up mountains. And boy, was the view worth the numb bum…
After a small climb we reached the summit, we overlooked a stunning, winding river. After numerous group photos we made our way down to the river. One side of the riverbank was Bangladesh and the other, India. It was heavily policed by border guards but they were all very friendly and smiley and didn’t mind us wandering along the border.
As the sun began to hide behind the mountains we boarded the bikes again and watched the sun set as we rode back through the fields and villages home.