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Published: June 19th 2013
Well, we finally made it to ICDDRB, the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research of Bangladesh despite all of the hartals that constantly disrupted our plans. There we spent a day observing the different areas of the centre including the emergency triage station, which was somewhat of an overwhelming place. People of all ages who are suffering from extreme dehydration due to diarrhea are brought to the centre for assessment & treatment. Some of the people are so dehydrated that their eyes are completely sunken and their speech and muscle movement is severely impaired. They honestly look like they are just going to collapse and die right there in front of you. The nursing staff is so efficient though, as soon as these individuals enter the centre they are rushed to a cot where an IV is started immediately and heavy fluids are pushed. Within two hours, you would have never known that the person was once so motionless as they come back to life before your eyes. It is quite a sight to see. The care that is delivered here is really top notch, and the death rate is substantially low. Unfortunately, while I was observing in the ICU though,
I saw a small infant pass. That was one of the most saddening experiences I have ever had in my life and definitely one that has been ingrained in my memory forever. I watched the little baby take his last gasps of air as his parents cried out to their god and collapsed upon the floor. I cannot even begin to imagine what losing a child must feel like.
After my day at ICDDRB, I needed to take my mind off of things and headed out on a day trip with two other volunteers. We decided to visit the old capital of Bangladesh called Sonargaon. Here, wealthy Hindu families constructed most of the town with intricately detailed mansions that date back hundreds of years ago. Sadly after the war of independence, and once Dhaka was renamed the new capital, the homes were all abandoned and squatters began to take over. There is one main street remaining that boasts some fantastic architecture, too bad it wasn’t maintained over the years.
We heard from other volunteers and some of the local people that Bangladesh had constructed its “own” Taj Mahal, and that this was an interesting stop to make on
the way back from Sonargaon. It was definitely interesting, but merely a miniscule size of the real thing that has become a means of supporting Bangladesh’s almost non-existent tourism industry with its admission fees. It was so sunny that day that I could barely examine the efforts put into the construction, as all the tiles were white and the reflection of the sun made it impossible to see.
On Sunday we visited the largest non-profit organization here in Bangladesh called BRAC, as well as World Vision. BRAC began operating after the war and have started all sorts of projects in the country ranging from micro financing loans for women, training health care workers in rural villages and supplying them with health supplies, hiring nutritionists to do home visits for new mothers, to establishing sanitation and hand washing groups, to building schools to setting up fair trade stores and employing the individuals that make the products. It is a very inspiring organization to learn about. Their work has helped so many individuals, families & communities in so many ways. This day was actually my 30th
birthday, so we celebrated afterwards with a much needed break from rice and lentils at
the only pizza joint I could find – Pizza Hut. I felt like I was turning 12 with my personal pan and virgin strawberry daiquiri. You have no idea how much I am looking forward to wine (and real pizza) in Italy!
We also spent time over the last week at the University, sitting in on and assisting with some of the Community Health classes delivered to the fourth year nursing students and for the attendance of our farewell tea. The nursing students thanked us for helping them out and conducted a cultural program, which consisted of speeches, singing and a harmonica session too. I think the harmonica player shocked us all when he said that he was going to play Bryan Adams, Everything I do, I do it for you. Not sure where that fits in culturally, I guess because we are Canadian? Nonetheless it was a good time. Haha.
Well, today is my last day here, so this will be the last blog you read from my Bangladesh journey. Not to mention, I will also officially finish my degree today! I am done!
So, onto the next leg of my adventure, all the way down
to the boot! It’s time to celebrate in a more appropriate fashion… Ciao!
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