Friday, September 23, 2016

Weddings in Bhola Garden

We think we should call Zakir “Cupid” – since he joined, three of our female staff and our own Faruk have “tied the knot”!

Faruk has been with us all his life. He was born with cerebral palsy and is part paralysed down the right side. He is now in his thirties and longs to be married.  He is the gate keeper  and every morning he can be seen sweeping the boundary and checking the tube wells.

A couple brought their daughter in some four weeks ago. She was about 16 so too old for us to accept. But when Zakir saw that she was paralysed down her left side, he proposed for Faruk and both Sharmin and her parents agreed.

In true Bangladeshi fashion no time was wasted, the marriage took place almost at once  and the parents went home. Two weeks later Faruk accompanied his bride to her parents’ home for the Eid holiday and, for the first time in his life, had people he could address as mother and father.

Salina is a widow, and the mother of our dear Sonali, now 11 and severely disabled with cerebral palsy. Salina also has a son who is in the local boys’ orphanage and visits us on all holidays.

Since we have known Salina, she has had at least two offers of marriage but neither suitor was prepared to take Sonali as well. Naturally Salina, who is a wonderful mother, rejected both proposals.

Mofiz and Salina
We are delighted to tell you Salina has now found a new husband who is more than happy to be a father to both her children. Mofiz was widowed earlier this year. His children are grown up, he has his own house near our campus, and until recently he worked for Heed Technical Training College. Mofiz proposed last month and the marriage took place yesterday.

Sandy and Freda are both about to visit Bhola and will have the good fortune to celebrate two marriages. I am deeply envious!


We were so very pleased to be selected by TFN to present our charity at their event on 15th September.   We were one of four charities – two UK-based and two working overseas – and we each had a target of £6,000.

Our ask was for a part-time physiotherapist and a carpenter, and we are happy to report that we more than achieved our target.  Zakir, who never wastes time,  has  already taken on a part-time carpenter.   Here is a photograph of his first lesson.

To The Funding Network and to all their guests and supporters:

This is a huge thank you from Bhola’s Children for your generosity last Thursday evening.

The  committee members of Bhola’s Children Special School Bangladesh, Zakir, the staff and all our children have asked me to thank you for donating so generously.

I was thrilled to have an opportunity to tell you about our charity, thank you for listening and for your positive feedback.   We all hope you will want to keep in touch and possibly even visit our home.   

Meanwhile thank you again so very much for raising such a wonderful sum of money for us.

Very best wishes,
Dinah Wiener

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Received a wheelchairs from CoastGuard

From Zakir, our Director:

Dear All,

I am glad to inform you that we have received five wheelchairs from CoastGuard on 14th June 2016. They handed over the chairs along with support for two other regular schools in a event with many media and other distinguished guests. Myself and Tanvir attended.

We have good relation with them and they have been a good support. They promised more support in the future years.

Best regards


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Our children sing farewell to Philip Westbury

Dinah has known and loved Philip for ten years.   He was so disabled at birth, he was not expected to live three days.  Instead, he lived nearly 31 years.

His mother Helen was the first donor to set up a substantial standing order.  When we asked for sponsorship for our auto rickshaw, we painted each donor’s name  on it.  Helen made up the shortfall and we thought it appropriate to put Philip’s name in full.   Philip sadly died just before Easter and the children made this video in the hope of comforting Philip’s family before the funeral on April 15th.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

It is a year since Zakir took over officially as Director of Bhola’s Children Protibondi School, now renamed Bhola’s Children Special School – Bangladesh (BCSB). Anne and I were delighted with what he has achieved. The atmosphere in the boundary was excellent, everything indoors and out was neat and tidy, and  the staff seemed happy – although stretched to their limits since we now have 53 children – 31 boys and 22 girls. We urgently need another teacher and a full-time labourer to help Dipok and Iqbal.

My great joy was seeing our three deaf boys Ahasan Ullah, Hassain and Sharadat going off to the secondary school having passed their exams. 

Zakir’s improvements to the boundary are good. The Director’s accommodation on the roof of the tailoring building is excellent. The able-bodied boys all sleep in the old tailoring room, those with mobility problems have a room on the ground floor. Asma seems very happy to use the old physio room for tailoring, and physio next to the entrance works very well. We now have a visitors’ door with a bell so the gates don’t need to be opened  and  a small waiting room. Faruk is pleased with his doorman’s office. The girls all sleep on first and second floors of the hostel, with Shefali and Sima as house mothers. We noticed how quiet it was in the early mornings without the boys below!

We had a very friendly and productive Committee meeting early in the week, with all our BCSB trustees present. They are a really helpful, intelligent and influential group of men – but we hope to have a woman on board soon. We agreed a new Memorandum of Understanding which Shawkat and I signed later in the week. They have asked to use our logo, which of course pleases us and new letter heading has been designed.

We have a new DC (District Commissioner) with whom we had a useful meeting. Unlike the previous very unpopular man (Freda and I had experience there!) he saw us promptly, was extremely charming and positive about our work, and visited us on Saturday morning. He has only just arrived in Bhola and told me it was his first official visit. As well as a tour of the boundary and a dance show by Sima and the girls, he and I laid the foundation bricks for the wall around the land I bought only about 8 years ago, and for which  the dispute has been settled at last!  It has been named Goyal Ghar which means cowshed, although I see it more as a pasture. The wall is being built now and we hope to have cows in residence next year!  

The vegetables in Valumia are spectacular. I have never known the land looking so tidy (that goes for the gardens in the boundary too) and so productive. Kamal is doing a great job and has become a valued member of the family.

Zakir and I work well together, which meant we got all the business out of the way early in the week so we could all enjoy ourselves later. We had the usual sports day and I won my first ever prize – third in musical chairs against the female staff, Anne and Zakir’s wife Neera!! The picnic was not the usual ordeal: due to a wonderful thunderstorm one night and heavy rains, which cleared the air, most of the river banks were muddy, and the women said taking food to cook outside was no picnic for them! Instead we all had an excellent lunch together at home, dressed in our best. We then piled into microbus and tractor trailer – Ronazid kindly drove the latter, it being a Friday – and went to a river bank where the boys swam. Zakir found a little motorised sailing boat which we ladies boarded for a trip up the river. Games afterwards, and everyone thought the day was a great success.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Surma weds!

When Surma was ten, she refused the advances of an older boy and he threw acid in her face. She survived although for some years she didn’t want to go on living, until she fell in love with a distant cousin Bacchu. They had a little boy, whom we call Babu, who is nearly ten. Bacchu came to live in Bhola Garden, where he was a hard worker responsible for agriculture and market.

Unfortunately Bacchu was led astray by one of our older students, whom he has married. We miss Bacchu as a worker, but he now employed in a similar institution some way away.

We were delighted to learn that Surma has found a new husband. It was a second marriage for both, so the wedding was a low-key affair but Surma looks very happy and her new husband seems nice. We wish them much happiness.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bhola’s Family - by Freda Graf

It was great to return to our home for disabled and orphaned children on Bhola Island and to find there was a great feeling of a family again.  Everyone is much happier and working well together.

Our new Director has created an effective team and the staff responds to him extremely well.  Zakir’s family fit in very naturally and Neera (Zakir’s wife) has a good relationship with the staff.  It is a happy place to be and like all families they have their arguments but Zakir is kind but firm in keeping discipline.

Our new Housemother, Shefali appears to be a very positive member of staff, firm and slightly aloof which is what is needed to cope with the tittle-tattle that inevitably goes on. Shefali is responsible for the kitchen, cooking and buying produce although all the staff and some of the children help with the preparation of the meals. She manages the kitchen quietly and efficiently. She is responsible for the smaller children but needs help with the older girls who can be very naughty.

A number of new children of different ages, with a variety of disablements have joined us. They have settled very well into the home and have become part of the family. It is not difficult to find new children because there are many disabled children on Bhola. This is sadly due to the poor level of maternity services and the prevalence of first cousin marriages.

I attended a very positive meeting with the Bangladeshi Trustees, where many issues relating to the home were discussed. It was good to welcome two new Trustees, an ex headmaster of the local school and a Principal of the local college who has recently retired. Both the new Trustees are very interested in the home and are well respected members of the community. Zakir hosted a barbecue for the Trustees and staff to meet together. He is an excellent chef and it was a very enjoyable and positive evening.

My visit coincided with the celebration of Cow Cutting Eid, which was a fascinating experience for me. I had images of blood everywhere and it being a rather unpleasant situation, however I have never seen such a clean and gentle killing of an animal. It was done in such a humane way and I found the subsequent butchering fascinating but then I am a nurse and it was so much cleaner that working in the operating theatre!

The Boundary (the home and garden) is looking smart and has been cleaned up since our last visit. The main buildings have been washed; in fact I thought they had been painted. The vegetable gardens have been organised and have been divided into rows. Groups of boys have responsibility for weeding and caring for the crops. New concrete pathways have been made around the side of the campus and some vegetation has been removed to protect the boundary wall. The boys and staff under the direction of Zakir have done all the work.

It was my first experience of visiting during the monsoon, although it should have ended before I arrived. Yes, it is wet and when it rains – it is a downpour. I will never grumble again about our heavy showers! The humidity is very exhausting especially when it stops raining and the sun comes out!  I shouldn’t complain as I was only there for a short time. Consequently, much of the land at Valumia was under water but it won’t be long before the new planting will start.

It was wonderful to see how the home was moving forward under the excellent leadership of Zakir. It was the best visit I have had and it was very positive to hear Zakir’s plans for the future especially with the ideas for the rehabilitation of the older children.