Authentic Village Life

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September 30th 2012
Published: August 9th 2017
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Geo: 24.7418, 90.4037

Visiting small villages and locals homes was again a highlight of our time in Bangladesh, and as it seems it is a big highlight for the people we visited. How often would they have the opportunity to invite a foreigner over?
We managed a few different trips, but unfortunately due to our strict schedule we were not able to stay over night, but even half a day was better than nothing.

One of our first visits was across the river where we went with Alamgir via bicycle. Women don't ride bikes in Bangladesh, so Anna got a few looks. After hitching the local boat across the river we set off on a 30 minute ride through some amazing green countryside with rice paddy fields and small villages. We were visiting a legend and the oldest man around the area called Tcha Tcha.

Tcha Tcha is a sweet old man of 89 years with a stylish goatee to match. We sat with him and some of his family and talked a bit with the aid of Alamgir as translator. We received some food and drinks with the visit and went to visit the students of the school which was their neighbor.
Just like one of the previous trips we did to a school which was also on the other side of the river, we sang a song to the kids, which we always had trouble doing.
We sang a short French song and made up some hand movements to go along with it.
Thankfully the kids don't know the song.

It was like this at another half day trip when we went to a school and visited about 7 different classes and once they had sung songs for us it was our turn and we struggled to think of a good song, as the songs in the western world are not as cultured as other countries.
We sang a French song with made up hand movements to all of the classes. I find it awkward doing that kind of thing, but it's the polite thing to do and I guess it makes them happy too.

So we returned from Tcha Tcha's in time for lunch at the brother house but this time with an extra guest, a kitten. Brother Eric had asked Alamgir to bring back a kitten for the brother house. There isn't too much compassion for pets in Bangladesh, so the kitten was stuffed in to a bag for the 45 minute ride back.

One other day trip (which we called "Tea Day" from the countless cups of tea we had) we were lucky to have was a trip to a small village near Madhupur, although we were invited to stay overnight, unfortunately we had to be somewhere the following morning. We were picked up from the Brother House by Ashish, a former boy at the house who lives in the village with his family about an hour and a half bus ride away.
From there we arrived in his village and visited a church which had quite a few stories to tell. It was established by an American priest who has lived in Bangladesh for 56 years. This priest was present during the liberation war of East Pakistan and Bangladesh and was even escorted in to the jungle to be executed but managed to talk his way out of it. This priest also helped save countless lives by teaching students to act as if they were Christian so that they were spared from execution in the liberation war.

We also visited an Non governmental organisation which is helping the tribes, especially the Garo Tribe, be recognized as an indigenous group of Bangladesh. The Garo Tribe consists of Northern Bangladesh people and is a very well known tribe in Bangladesh but they are not recognized as indigenous. Because of this they are not entitled to land rights and some who went to India, lost their land and were put in to jail for no reason when they came back. This is why Brother Guilleme has been fighting to help release these people.
This NGO helps create awareness and fights for tribe rights to be acknowledged as an indigenous group of Bangladesh. As usual, governments are the wall that stands between their dream.

Afterwards we grabbed a few pineapples, which are plentiful in this region, and set off for Ashish's house were we met his family and had lunch before jumping on a flat rickshaw in aim of visiting Doctor Baker.
Doctor Baker is very famous in Bangladesh. He is from New Zealand and has set up a hospital to help poor people. He has been in Bangladesh for a long time and has not only saved countless lives but also educated people with his team of volunteers on diseases such as diabetes which is very common in Bangladesh.

Unfortunately after spending a good hour getting there, he was in Dhaka, but we did speak with another New Zealand Lady who was helping for a year.
After a short visit and tour of the hospital we set off back to Ashish's home. We got caught in a very heavy rainstorm but had timed it perfectly when we stopped to seek shelter at the American Priests new church.
It was an awkward conversation because he is getting old (in his 80's) and he asked us the same questions on several occasions and didn't seem quite there.

From there we pretty much had to leave for Mymensingh, but were gracious for the opportunity to see another small area of Bangladesh. I learned so much that day about the history, the future and the problems of Bangladesh and it was great. Travelling to these countries can educate you in more ways than you think.

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