Mohoram's Bhola Island trip to a charity
Orphans with disABILITY:
what a struggle going on in Bhola Island (Bangladesh)
As I am a wheelchair user and young one, it was my own decision that I will go to Bhola Island, largest island of the country Bangladesh, to visit a welfare organization named “Bhola’s Children” (www.bholaschildren.org). Normally the people go to Bhola by launch from Sadarghat (Dhaka) to Bhola launch ghat via Chandpur district. It was very tough to make this trip alone with a wheelchair and bags. Finally I had done it and I hope this travel reports (informal) will interest to you all.
The main aims of Bhola’s Children are to provide accommodation, education and medical treatment for orphaned children with disABILITY on the Island of Bhola (Bangladesh).
26th of July 2010.
I left my residence, the Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP), my employed organization around 1.30PM. I reached at Sadarghat (Dhaka) near 4.30PM by bus and the rickshaw journey. It was mutual understanding with bus service provider that they will help me to carry my wheelchair and bags by their staff. I paid for me and also for wheelchair but I am not happy to pay for wheelchair rent. This is my first launch journey, that’s why I did not have any experience about sitting or bedding. My friend who lives near the Sadarghat (Dhaka), he bought a new bed sheet for sleeping on the floor of launch. It is common way for cheapest journey, really interesting. My wheelchair was burden to the launch authority as it is took bit place. They were expressing this boringness by their face not by speech/talk, but finally they accepted it. Launch left the Dhaka just at 7.00PM. It was very simple journey but I enjoyed so much. No traffic jam, no horn, no any stoppage to take more passengers, no much noise, no visible fasting competition. It was moonlight night and I was enjoying till 12.00AM. It was my idea and commitment to me that I will not sleep tonight but after 12.00AM I found everybody gone to sleeping world and that’s why automatically I did feel that I have to go for sleep. I have gone to sleep with wearing blue coloured jeans, which was not so easy to continue till next morning, but I had to.
27th July 2010.
A voice entered to my ears that “please get up, we reached at Bhola, take preparation to leave the launch”. I rose up about 5.45AM. It was not expected to me because the launch authority yesterday told me they will reach at Bhola not before 7.00AM. Okay, it was terrible to leave the floored bed earlier but when I faced that a fresh air creating impression to my body, it was really peaceful moment. I made a call to Bhai Mr. Howlader M A Ali, founder of Bhola’s Children to receive me from the launch ghat.
They came to me by 10 minutes and took me to organization. It was bit unexpected that the people of the launch did take the rent for me even they did not ask about the rent. Some how it is positive and someway it is negative but I took it positively as it is Bangladesh, one of the poorest and politically unstable country of the 3rd world, because most of disABLED people don’t have any earning way to pay for all the cost. Launch business is not small business, if one/two disABLED passenger(s) do not pay or half for each trip, it will not create any hamper to the business.
I took a great bath at the centre by 30 minutes because I did take bath before 24 hours ago. 24 hours is big time for me because I take bath 2 times each day, even when I go to abroad. After bath and wearing official dress Bhai made a brief about the culture and behaviour of Bhola Island’s people, centre’s staffs, all the residents, irregular clients and it was near about 6.30AM. After a cup of black coffee I took a visit to all places of the centre excluding ladies hostel.
The centre is about 97 decimals lands and secured by a medium high wall, 10 minutes way from Bhola Island’s launch ghat, 15 minutes away from the Bhola city, attached with Bhola intercity road. Very easy and good communication between Bhola’s Children and Bhola city and other places of Bhola Island. You will be happy if you pay a visit to this organization for a single time. I am sure many of politicians and big businessman, they don’t have any info about this organization forever. You will say first, “Orphans with disABILITY? What a struggle going on in Bhola Island (Bangladesh) by Bhai.
The life with disABILITY is a recognized battlefield for forever, if s/he is an orphan, is it not more than battle field? I think yes and I hope everybody should support my voice and thinking. Bhola’s Children are the brain child of Mr. Howlader M A Ali, around 55 years old men who is attached with disABILITY field for last 30 years. He is one of the pioneer leaders of Bangladesh for the disABILITY movement for last 3 decades. In addition, he did invest most of the time of these 3 decades to create and modify the assistive devices and its technology for all kind of disABLED people. If you look the profile or index of the disABILITY movement of Bangladesh, his name will come to you all automatically. In 2004, he thought I need to do something for Island based disABLED people and he started this project in Bangladesh’s largest island based district Bhola by giving all the stuffs of his life & family, even a single tea cup. Now he lives inside the centre at a very small single accommodation which is not minimum well decorated, he does not want it too. There are about 61 residents and about 90% are orphans with disABILITY. Near 5% disABLED and other 5% orphans only. Most of them are speech and hearing disABLED and near 20% other including blind, physical and mental. It was a different world to me. The children talk by using Bengali sign language even who is not a speech and hearing disABLED. Some times break the sign language rules because everybody don’t much training/education on the Bengali sign language.
There have no professional hired cook at all. The residents are cooking for all clients even for the residence based staffs. They select who will cook for this week and for next weeks, even a blind one also.
All the residents are allowed for all the necessity, even for personal things. They live there in the centre like the home and Bhai takes care as like parents. Current basic activities are as follows:
1. Residence based education for all disABLED resident.
2. Vocational training on Tailoring, making Assistive Device for disABLED people, Crop Farming.
3. Informal training to the disABLEDs on capacity building and life leading attitude to the common society.
Work with orphans with disABILITY is not common in the world, even not so easy to do it. The attitudes of the workers, behavior of the staffs, costs of operating are not common in our country as well as in the south-east Asia. The current monthly operating cost is BDT 2,00,000.00 / USD 2,898.00.
After breakfast, I went to the new project which is just bought from a villager for a technical training centre in the future and it is about 52 decimals. The theme technical training centre is one of the most important future projects of this Bhola’s Children. Technical training is one demand sector in the world, that’s why the board of trustee decided to take this project. Personally I also believe this reality.
After half past 10.00AM, we were going to another new project namely Bhelu Mia, named from the place, which is about 11KM far from the centre. Normally we used bike to go anywhere in Bhola except any invitation and launch ghat. Bhelu Mia project is mainly to build the residence for the orphans with disABILITIES who have no any place to go in the future. They will live there forever and will crop the foods, cultivate the animals, etc. The centre will do marketing the items be done by themselves. It is about 230 decimals lands newly bought from a rich man who is personally a professor. I invested there about 3 hours time and got the idea from Bhai what is going to happen there in this project Bhelu Mia. Also I listened the personal life history of Bhai, which is carrying maximum similarities with Tony Blair’s or Barack Obama’s childhood.
Currently there in the Bhelu Mia project have only a tin shed small 2 bedded accommodations for 2 juveniles. Maximum of the land is like a pond and seasonal fish cultivating is going on. Another reality performance is going on to continue in this project which is really rare in the world. The responsive 2 juveniles for the security of the project are disABLED. They buy necessary commodities, cook the foods, clean the wears, takes bath at a same place, all other things. Wonderful thing is: one is blind and another one is speech and hearing disABLED. It is a common theory in the world that the resident based activities can not go/run for blind and speech and hearing disABLED at the same time at same centre. But what you will say when you will see this different thing and at a grassroots level in a poor country Bangladesh, even a small residence based centre Bhola’s Children? It can be a model and we can learn from Bhai how he is doing it. We can not forget it, every length starts by a step. The day was busy to me and totally successful.
28th – 30th of July 2010
These 3 days I passed with Bhai by project understanding, because I am one of the possible drivers to drive this project in the future.
I backed to Dhaka by same way journey and enjoy, started on evening July 30th and I reached at Sadarghat (Dhaka) at 7.00AM next day July 31st. Unfortunately it was rainy day and it was bit tough to get a vehicle to come to Savar (Dhaka), my employed organization CRP because my duty is to be started from 10.00AM. Thanks.
What can not be forgotten from my memory/knowledge–
* The acceptance of resident children. They had taken me as a long time friend. They have honoured me as an accompanier.
* Mutual understanding between Bhai and all other staffs and residents.
* Fresh fried hilsa with chicken soup made by Laily Akter, a resident.
* Bhai’s safety in driving the bike and vehicle (micro bus for the outside based student with disABILITY).
* The Bhai, a man with full humanity with good administrative & managerial performances.
Md. Mohoram Ali
A young with disABILITY (Bangladesh)\
Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CRP) Dhaka (Bangladesh), www.crp-bangladesh.org
WWW.BEZGRANIZ.COM - portal for the disABLED
Moscow (Russia), www.bezgraniz.ru
Bhai – It is a Bengali word same as brother and we use it to most honour to Mr. Howlader M A Ali).
Sadarghat – Main / principal station where the launches arrive and begin journey in Dhaka city only.
Ghat – Station where the launches arrive and begin journey.