Tag Archive for 'Poor'Page 2 of 4

Crystal Clear Community Water

This is a bottle of Evian water:

Evian

You can buy yours for about $2.25 at a convenience store for about a 1.5 L bottle.

Here’s what you guys spent your money on instead:

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Pond Sand Filter Water Samples (click for larger size)

This is water samples from the near-finished Pond Sand Filter. Paid for by donations from you and voted democratically upon in Challenge Poverty. This will serve over 50 families in rural Bangladesh and has the potential (if maintained inexpensively by the local community) for approximately ten years.

Just some of the 50+ Families to Benefit from This

Just some of the 50+ Families to Benefit from This

Thanks to Save the Children for tirelessly working on this to make sure this small rural community gets to drink water as clear as if it came from the French Alps.

Photoblog: Orphans Study by Candlelight

Dharmarijika Orphans Study By Candlelight

The Dharmarajika Orphanage is home to approximately 500 students – mostly poor children from the Chittagong Hill-Tracts. It is run by the Buddhist community here in Dhaka but it is not home to only Buddhists. All the residents here are too poor to go to afford to school. The Dharmarajika Monastery helps by providing free schooling, food, and room & board for these students and orphans.

Although it’s a life far better than living in the slums, it’s far from luxurious. Lack of running water force residents to use a local green-colored pond instead. Wooden boards and old tables serve as “beds” for these students. The frequent power outages make it near impossible to study. Many use the outages as an opportunity to rest or spend time with friends. Few students, like the one pictured above, struggle to keep studying by candlelight.

Expect to see more about Dharmarajika in the future. In the meantime, there is a album with a lot more photos on Flickr. Not seen in the photo is another student (to the right) – too dim to be seen studying in this candlelight.

Violence in Dhaka: My Reaction

The more things change, the more they stay the same </cliche>. Back in 2007, one of my first blog posts was about about riots, curfews, and media blackouts. A lot has changed since then. The big one being that, instead of a military government running Bangladesh, there is now a duly elected government calling the shots. But, here I am, still talking about violence, curfews, and media blackouts 😛

Troops Gathering in Dhaka

Troops Gathering in Dhaka

If you’ve been watching the news or following me on Twitter you know that recently there was an outbreak of violence involving the Bangladesh border security forces and the government. Although information was sporadic at first (as journalists were initially banned from the area), it appears that this was started due to pay-related grievances by the border security forces.

Civilian Injuries

Civilian Injuries

A lot of friends contacted me worrying if I was alright. Unlike the riots of 2007, I definitely felt a lot safer. I was in a completely different part of the city than where the violence was happening. There was no risk of a stray bullet coming through my window or anything like that. Heck, I was so far away from where it was all happening, I couldn’t even hear the sound of gunfire.

Troops & Guns

Troops & Guns

But, like 2007, there was a lot of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Especially with initial reports being so sketchy, everyone I knew (family and friends) were worried about what was going on. More importantly, we were all worried that it would spread. Because, especially in Bangladesh, nothing ever stays contained. Afterall, the big nationwide riots of 2007 were were sparked by relatively small scuffle on the campus of Dhaka University.

For me, as someone who isn’t really an expert in the politics of Bangladesh, I really feel optimistic about the future of this country. That may not be the lesson that many people will gather from a situation that killed approximately 50 over 60 people and put tanks on the street. But that’s kind of the point – although the situation was very bad, it could have been a lot worse. Here’s what I think Bangladesh should be proud of:

Read about it after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Violence in Dhaka: My Reaction’

Sacrifices, Challenges, & Opportunities

Where do I begin? There was no one word that could describe how I felt as I was packing up to go home. I felt kind of foolish because the real straw that broke the camel’s back was my dead LaCie harddrive. When I got home, after the culture shock, I felt lucky. The blood tests I took here helped explained why I was feeling so sick, tired, and ill those last few months in Bangladesh. But, in the best case scenario, this problem was due to the iron-heavy drinking water in Bangladesh. What does that say about what awaits me when I return? I certainly don’t want to stop this project – although, given the financial (and now medical) strains, it’s only a matter of time until I have to stop.

This video is one of my sadder videos. It’s also one of the least watched videos on my channel. So if you haven’t already, please do take a look:

Some photos of my return trip after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Sacrifices, Challenges, & Opportunities’

Challenge Poverty (with Save the Children)

The Pond Sand Filter (Save the Children USA)

Choosing has always been the hardest part of this project. I’ve tried my best to share all the emotions I’ve had during this project like the joy of helping children in the Hill-Tracts, or the anguish and sense of powerlessness during Cyclone Sidr disaster relief, or the craziness involved in reaching some remote rural village. With this latest video, I’m sharing the toughest reality of this project: being forced to choose.

With this video, there is no wrong answer – only tough choices.

More after the jump.

Continue reading ‘Challenge Poverty (with Save the Children)’

What Would Kathy Do?

Dr. Kathy Ward @ Nari Jibon

Dr. Kathy Ward (University of Southern Illinois – Carbondale) on the roof of the Nari Jibon Project along with those involved with (and helped by) the project.

In this blog, I often mention Dr. Jeffrey Sachs. He was the inspiration that led me to start this project. But, as fate would have it, there has also been another brilliant American professor whose been an inspiration to me since I first heard of her. Her name is Dr. Kathy Ward and she’s a sociology professor at the University of Southern Illinois in Carbondale. I don’t talk about her often enough because… well… a grad student praising one of their favorite professors is just cliché now isn’t it?

But the fact of the matter is that there is a lot to laud about the work Dr. Ward has done here in Bangladesh through her non-profit called the Nari Jibon Project. And while more PR-savvy people in Dhaka seem to be able to market themselves as “the unsung hero of Dhaka” – I got a chance to meet the real McCoy.

All that and more after the jump.

Continue reading ‘What Would Kathy Do?’

The Struggle to Buy High School Textbooks

A year’s worth of textbooks for a Grade Nine student studying in rural Bangladesh cost over 900 taka. Many can’t afford it – and many drop out. In fact, of all the children that enroll in school, only 54% of them are still in school by the age of ten. Individual poverty is a big factor as is the lack of infrastructure and general lack of access to education.

During my latest trip to Tangail District, I got to meet Mohammed Hossain – a Grade Nine student who didn’t have the 900 taka necessary to buy his books for the year. Fortunately, 900 taka is just 13 bucks. And, having liquidated my savings for my Xbox 360, there was more than enough money to buy all the books for him. To show his thanks, after he got his books, he sang a couple of songs for my grandmother and I. 🙂

Checking out the Textbooks

The desk he is examining the books on is the same desk I talked about in this post. We painted it to make it waterproof before donating (thus the paint brush on the table).

Mohammed Checks Out the Textbooks

There are a couple of more photos on my page on Flickr.