Hank, John, and a Journey Through the Chittagong Hill-Tracts

This is what I mean when I say I want to “YouTube with a Purpose”. If it wasn’t for YouTube, most of you wouldn’t be reading this. If it wasn’t for YouTube, I’d never get to meet Hank and John Green. If it wasn’t for YouTube, Hank would never have thought to donate to some guy with a crazy idea for a project in Bangladesh.

Photos, deleted scenes, and much more after the jump.

It was also YouTube that I kept in mind when thinking of how best to spend this donated money. Rick Davis, the teacher at the American International School in Dhaka and all-round nice guy, had this really great suggestion as how to best spend this money. Rick had heard of this small fledgling NGO in the Chittagong Hill-Tracts that was starting a sponsorship program.

This NGO was trying to help a rural tribal Buddhist community. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, it’s hard for local NGOs like this to get funding and support from the local Bangladesh government. Most Bangladeshis don’t view these tribal communities as “truly Bengali”. There has also been stories of intimidation and forced movement of these tribal communities. Basically, these tribal communities are treated like crap.

Because of this lack of support, this small NGO had a lot of big ideas but no real way to realize them. No one had heard about them outside of their communities (Rick had stumbled upon by them by fluke). They have no website, no online donation system, and no real way to easily bring in money from abroad. This seemed like a really good opportunity to pay it forward in a way that could do more good beyond just a single donation. Maybe, by using Hank Green’s money here and sharing it with others through YouTube, this NGO might get the attention it needs to start to realize some of their dreams.

So, after spending a day or so of R&R in my trip to the Chittagong Hill-Tracts, we went off to visit this NGO and help a family in a remote rural village. Unfortunately, we had to leave the car behind because we had to cross this:

The Bamboo Bridge in the Chittagong Hill-Tracts

Trust me, it’s not as safe as it looks. Although, if I were to have fallen I would probably have just damaged my camera equipment. The risk of drowning was minimal because it was low tide and it wasn’t rainy season. In fact, a few of the locals were just walking over the river by foot as you an see here:

Some of the locals actually needed to cross the river by foot. Most of the villages were very remote and unreachable by either car or motorcycle. As Rick and I saw, one of the locals had to cross the river on foot while carrying some heavy bags of food to take to his village:

My friend Mikey often says that the Chittagong Hill-Tracts is one of the most beautiful locations in Bangladesh. I can see why he says it now. Even though the journey was long, the scenery was just amazing:

The Path to the Bamboo Bridge

Farming in the Chittagong Hill-Tracts

Although it was also scary, we had to cross a place which – just a few weeks ago – were feeding grounds for swarms and swarms of rats.

So, after a very long walk, we finally reached our destination. Who did I donate Hank’s money to? How much money was left after all the PayPal and bank fees? And did I go all that far just to help one person and one family? Find out next time :-)

  • Zak

    Hey,

    Keep up the good work and good to see you healthy and posting again.

  • Zak

    Hey,

    Keep up the good work and good to see you healthy and posting again.

  • Zak

    Hey,

    Keep up the good work and good to see you healthy and posting again.

  • jolene

    looking healthy again =)Great job

  • jolene

    looking healthy again =)Great job

  • jolene

    looking healthy again =)Great job