Where do I begin...
At the start of the week I visited the FFC (Families For Children) Orphanage here in Uttara. The orphanage was founded by a Canadian woman who recognized the need for a home for war babies that were orphaned after the war of independence in 1971. After the war babies grew up and moved out of the home, other orphans were taken in and now there are two facilities supporting a total of 143 children, 47 of which have special needs. FFC provides them with shelter, food, and education, as well as covers the cost of any required medical expenses. Many staff employed at FFC came as destitute mothers and had no place to go too. The sense of community within this organization is profound. The children are truly cared for, loved and supported in every way by an exceptional team of staff.
On Monday, I was part of the group that got to spend the day at The School of Hope. The School of Hope is a non-government, non-profit and non-religious school for children who are living in the slums and come from extremely poor families. Given their income status, many of them have never
had a regular check-up with a doctor, and are suffering from many health issues that require immediate attention. In collaboration with the principal, the fourth year nursing students at IUBAT organized a day that we could all volunteer at the school to do vision and hearing screening tests, as well as growth chart assessments for the children. This way the students with the most critical health concerns could be identified and we could cut the cost that the school would have to come up with to hire a doctor to do so. The ones that were deemed the most in need of medical attention were placed on a list in which the school is going to find funding for to ensure their needs are met. Despite their living situation, the children were so happy and full of life. At the end of the day they organized a musical performance and dance routine to showcase their talents. They even pulled us up onto the dance floor to join them in the end. I have to say that this day was truly one of the most amazing life experiences I have ever had.
The next day I explored the Gulshan neighbourhood
in Dhaka. This area is quite upscale in comparison to other neighbourhoods in the city, and is the spot that most of the foreigners frequent when they are in town. Shopping is a must as they have a ton of neat fair trade shops and an extensive antique mall. This is also where big hotel chains like the Westin have been established. Although I couldn't really ask to be immersed in a better food culture than I am given that I am vegetarian, but I have to admit I am getting sick of rice and daal (lentils). Because of that reason, I did visit the Westin to see what they had to offer in their restaurant for the chance of a western dining escape. The view from our dining table on the 23rd floor was absolutely fantastic, my photo really doesn't do it justice, and my margherita pizza was equally as amazing!
There was another hartal so our plans to visit ICDDRB (the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research of Bangladesh) were postponed, but our plans to explore Old Dhaka did fall into place.
Old Dhaka is reminiscent of life as it once was here in Bangladesh. The
streets are extremely narrow, over-crowded and overwhelming at times - but are unlike any other area and a must see attraction for visitors to this country. We started off at Lalbagh Fort where construction began in 1677 under the direction of Prince Azam. The completion was handed off to a Shaista Khan, but it all came to a halt when his daughter died as he considered that a bad omen. Next we sought out a Hindu temple, walked along the riverside, and visited one of the most famous mosques in Dhaka - the Star Mosque. This mosque dates back to the early 18th century and has some of the most detailed tile work I have ever seen. We also visited the Pink Palace which was home to one of Dhaka's wealthiest families dating back to 1872, as well as the Armenian Church, the Christian Cemetery and the Botanical Gardens where the bats like to hang out. We also strolled down the two most famous streets - Bicycle Street where you find all bicycle and rickshaw related parts, as well as Hindu Street where we stumbled upon a parade.
Sunday I am back at the University to sit in on
some nursing classes, but then Monday I am heading off for another adventure. I will be visiting an area of Bangladesh called Srimongal where tea plantations and rainforests mainly comprise the land. I will be gone for a couple of days, but I promise to write again when I can! Xo.
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