Thursday, November 17, 2011
Simon Hamilton, aged 15 months, now has about 50 brothers and sisters, several uncles and aunts and a grandfather! The youngest visitor to Bhola thoroughly enjoyed the experience, got not a single mosquito bite and seemed to like the food. Pomegranates have now replaced blueberries as his favourite fruit..
It was a wonderful trip for all three of us – even the flights could have been worse. We had five hours in Bahrain on the outward journey and luckily persuaded Gulf Air to let Anne and Simon into the Business Class lounge with me. The rest of the journeys, although long, were relatively troublefree and it was a joy to make the 40 minute seaplane flight to Bhola, instead of the overnight ferry – the first time I had arrived that way. In the photograph Ronazid looks as if he is about to hit Anne – in fact he is holding an umbrella!
All the children were in great form, very pleased to see us and of course delighted to welcome Anne’s baby. There are several new young children. Some of our teenagers have left, either to work in Bhola or Dhaka or, in the case of a couple of girls, to get married. Shahti, who married Deepok a couple of years ago, is expecting a baby in December and is looking very large and happy. Two of our brightest deaf girls, Sonia and Salma, have been registered to attend the local school in January which is excellent news, fingers crossed that they cope.
Anne and I both liked our new House Mother, Shefali – as do the children. She is the only Christian among Muslims and a few Hindus, and so her sign language name is very easy: the sign of the cross!
We were also delighted to find a young man whom I had met three years ago – he and his friends were about to do a Masters in Special Education. Nuzrul is joining us for six months and it was a joy watching him with the children – he specializes in the deaf but is extremely clever with all ranges of disability. I think he will inspire our teachers and leave behind some useful programmes for others to follow.
We came hot on the heels of a representative of our major donor making her first visit to Bhola, and Ali was jubilant at having been able to show her everything. Much of the funding for the new tailoring building comes from her company and I am sure she was delighted to see it nearly finished – it should be ready by the end of the year. Apart from accommodation for volunteers and married staff, it has a lovely large airy tailoring room on the first floor – Asma can’t wait to move into it with her pupils and the machines.
The bottom pond is now back in use, only by the boys until building is over, but it was good to see them swimming again. For a relatively small property with a large building project, Ali Bacchu and the rest of the staff have kept everything very tidy – vegetables growing well and of course plenty of space in front of the hostel for cricket and badminton. There is still music, singing and dancing every afternoon before the children are let loose outside.
Once again we are harvesting the nuts at Supari Bagan (Nut Tree Garden). These are left to dry and sold next year when the price is high. So, until such time as we can build the workshops there, the land is earning some money for us.
We had our usual Friday picnic at Valumia. The top field had been ploughed the week before, so Bacchu and the boys set to work planting tomatoes, egg plants and broccoli. When we went back the following Wednesday, our last morning, to say goodbye we were amazed to see a sea of green – and they hadn’t even needed to water the plants in… it is truly a magical place. Our little house will be very useful when plumbed in, and indeed we had lunch in it in style, with a few important guests – complete with a fan, the generator having been taken along on the trailer!
Unlike last year, when most of the children went home for Eid, Ali insisted everyone stay in the boundary. It is a long day. As Anne said, rather like Christmas but without the presents. It was nearly 3 pm before lunch was cooked, since the cow may not be killed until the men have returned from prayers at 9 am. After lunch we went to the Childrens’ Park down the road, where Ali organized the children into a game which immediately attracted a good crowd of spectators. As I said, they should have paid us to come in instead of charging us!
As you can imagine, it was wonderful to be back in Bhola again after so many months. All being well, I will get out there again early next year. Meanwhile it is good to know that Bruna is arriving at the weekend, so the children will have seen both their Mammi’s!