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!
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.
I’m currently based 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..
Yesterday morning was one I couldn’t imagine going better. It started with a boat ride along our local river followed by a rickshaw journey into the hills of the India/Bangladesh border. We walked for miles through green, luscious forests climbing up muddy paths to get the best views (and group photos).
We then visited a church on top of a hill overlooking a long river and the Indian mountains. At the top of the hill (small mountain) we found the churches’ Peace Room, a room precariously perched on the edge where church visitors can take rest after climbing the hill and look down at the light-blue winding river. The room is normally only allowed to be used by church goers but after a couple of phone calls a super friendly local ran up the hill to open it for us. It was a great time to sit down and reflect on what we have achieved as a team in Bangladesh (including our lovely police escorts who live and travel with us). It was also the perfect bird viewing platform- we spotted two eagles and a hawk.
The Peace Room:
Visiting beautiful churches and taking photos of mountains is thirsty work so we headed to the nearest tea shack. Once again the Bangladeshi’s showed how great they are at hospitality, moving the tables and chairs so we could all sit together and watch the randomly placed small tv in the corner of the room. There was about 10 other people dotted around, all watching this tiny tv, in a tea shack in the middle of nowhere on the Indian border. They were watching a slapstick comedy and everybody was in stitches. It was so lovely to see no matter how rural the village, the communities always create space for everyone to gather and enjoy each others company.
After tea (or cha as it’s known locally) we jumped back in the rickshaw and went back to my favourite place of all: The China Clay Hills. As they stretch as far as you can see we explored different lakes to the last time we were there. Our adventuring took us to the top of a rocky hill which provided us with the most stunning views. But reality hit us hard when we realised we had to get down from this rocky, unstable hill wearing our much loved yet rather-useless-in-this-situation flip flops. Long story short, the whole team ended up holding hands in a chain, slipping and sliding our way down. We ended up at the bottom of the hill sweaty and sunburnt but with our bellys hurting from laughing so much. No matter where you are there is always an adventure around the corner in Bangladesh..