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Village Sleepover

You know you get a lot of mosquito bites when you think, “oh sweet I only got 7 today.” I’m not sure what the most I’ve gotten in 1 day is but it’s way over 7, especially not sleeping with a mosquito net at the village Tipna.

I’ve been talking about spending the night at Tipna for a while it seems and I finally got the chance and so glad I did.

I arrived before dinner time and sat with all the girls and many other people from the village in the dark with a candle. Taught some english and sang some songs. The electricity went out as it does almost every night here. There are 11 girls from the Girls Education Program in Tipna and the first village I went to in January .

All the girls and I slept in 1 room…so we didn’t sleep. They even sleep with the light on. They woke up bright and early and I woke up to all 11 of them completely still and staring at me. I started cracking up.

When the eating began it never really ended. Because there are 11 girls I know, I had to eat at several houses! 2 houses for dinner, 3 houses for breakfast the next morning, and 3 for lunch. I have never eaten so much in my life. They get really upset if you don’t eat something at their home. The most amazing people but you better eat what they make you.

They were so excited to “dress” me and started right away. Henna, red paint on my feet, flowers in my hair and of course a tip (the dot on the forehead). I always thought a tip meant something, but it’s just a fashion thing. Little did I know they BOUGHT me a sorry and gave it to me at the end of the day. It took 2 people and almost 15 minutes to put it on! It’s a whole lot of material to wear. Pretty, but pretty uncomfortable. I couldn’t believe they did that.

I would have loved to be able to talk to everyone more, maybe one day. There’s something incredibly exhausting with having people speak to you but you don’t know what they’re saying and when you tell them you know little bangla, they still try. It makes me more motivated to study the language.

I’ll never forget going to the outhouse at night and when I shined the flashlight inside, I saw around 15 HUGE cockroaches crawl up the wall. Did I go inside? No way, I went in a bush.

It’s hard to imagine having no bathroom, no running water, very little light if any, and bathing in a pond everyday. How so many people live in the world.

Oh, we saw 2 elephants on the road, it was exciting. They’re bringing a circus to Bangladesh!

P.S. My last post is a video, my family told me they thought it was a picture. 🙂

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Happy Easter

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Days in Khulna

It’s been almost 3 months living in Bangladesh and life here feels normal, whatever normal is. I’m so happy I got a 1 way ticket and trusted God in all of this. My days are very full, never thought I would be busy in Khulna! A typical day is teaching english at the Alingon Home till lunch time, going to my friends house to learn bangla for 2 hours, going to the salon to teach the girls a class, and then back to Alingon in the evening. And usually once a week visiting the villages. The days I don’t go to the salon I have a little down time. It’s getting HOT, and it’s just the beginning. Coming home at the end of the day and taking a shower is the biggest treat ever, seriously.

Teaching is going well. I’ve noticed how much more the kids are understanding english. I have an age gap from 4 to almost 8 in 1 class so it can be challenging. The 4 year olds are either falling down (usually on purpose) or running up to me to tell me something very important, thinking I can understand them. For some, this is their first time in school and they are close to 8. With the older girls I teach, I try to use the little bangla I’ve learned so far to help them. It’s harder for them but they have come a long way since January. We redid the little kids classroom last week, it looks so much better.

I was curious to see if I would miss doing hair living here, and I do! I teach the 2 girls at the salon a few times a week and they are doing really well! They catch on fast. My friend Milton (who has been helping the women from Boston with the project) and I interviewed a woman last week to manage the salon. She’s a stylist as well. I had her do bride hair and make up on one of the girls to see her work and thought she did a great job. My friends in Boston are working on a proposal for her and hopefully she will start soon. It will be good to have someone else in the salon with the girls everyday, especially local. Business is very different here.

On my way to a village yesterday with Uttum, I got a new helmet! We take his motorcycle so it was necessary. Riding on a motorcycle here is fun and terrifying all at the same time. I always have this grin on my face and think, this is crazy! They say they have bad traffic rules here…..umm what rules? You can do whatever you want really. Day time is one thing, but night time…I see lights and think “wow we are getting super close to that” and then bam…we move. And there are rickshaws and people everywhere with NO lights. And I can’t forget cows and goats. Surprisingly, I never see accidents. I’m sure my mom just had a mini stroke reading this.

I fall more in love with the Alingon girls everyday. There is never a dull moment with them. Life here is definitely guaranteed to break your heart, but everyday there is still joy. God is doing amazing things here.

Thank you for all the support and reading about my adventures. I appreciate it!

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Doing their favorite thing: math competition on the board

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Field Trip

Friday, all 77 girls from the education program went on a field trip to tour Khulna University!

Everyone piled on 2 buses and away we went. Khulna University was the first stop. The girls were so excited just to be on a bus. During our drive we went over a big bridge and they were screaming with excitement. It was an awesome moment. We walked all around the school and the rice field surrounding it. (Bangladesh is like 1 giant rice field.) Everyone got hats with the program name on them, the girls looked so cute.

The next stop was a park about 30 minutes away where there was a small lake and a few crocodiles to see. It’s like they had the crocodile trained in the picture I posted, he just sat in that little opening. Crocodiles never move so my interest in them is about 30 seconds long.

The last stop was another park where we had lunch and the girls got their new school books given to them. There were a few people that got there earlier that cooked for us. The only time I eat with my hand is when I’m with these girls, I’m getting better at it and the girls love to watch me and laugh.

It was a very eventful day and very hot, I thought everyone would crash on the ride home…no…we danced and sung at the top of our lungs. I’m so happy to have this time and opportunity to get to know them and spend time with them. These girls are already shaping their villages for a better future.

Abuse is very common in the villages and with some of them their is something in me that says they are a victim. Trafficking is a huge issue as well. I know that finishing school and maybe one day going to college will empower them and I hope they have hope that they can do it. If you’re sponsoring a girl, these are the things your money is going to, it’s really amazing and just the beginning for them.

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Color War

Yesterday was Women’s Day and a tradition to have a color war.

It was a long week so having a fun, light day with all the girls was so much fun.

We filled water bottles and put holes in the caps so we got some good range.

The buckets got filled a few times so you can imagine, we got SOAKED! Of course the girls loved attacking me and pouring an entire bottle down my back. It was the best.

We’re all still very stained. Three showers later and I’m still colorful.

Followed with ice cream and a dance party, it was a good day!

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Sponsor at Alingon

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More than 1 person can sponsor a girl to pay for the $100 each month, that’s what I meant by 4 people can sponsor. It pays for everything (food, school, tutors, etc.) for the whole month.

I read this today and wanted to share it.

This is the day that God has made’ psalm 118

Really-this day? The one with wars and poverty and divorce and addiction and betrayal? This one?

Yes, this one.

This one because there’s a difference between analysis and awareness.

Analysis pulls things apart, looks for cracks in logic, points out the inconsistencies.

Analysis needs things to make sense.

There’s nothing wrong with analysis, of course, it’s often vital in our survival and thriving. But if we stay there, in that mode and that mode only, we can easily find ourselves stepping back with arms folded, pointing out all that’s wrong with this day and all the ways it falls short and all the evidence for why this particular day doesn’t appear to be the kind of day that God would make- all while the day passes us by.

(This is very easy to do, by the way. It’s why cynicism is so popular, it’s easy.)

But in this psalm-the one that says that this is the day that God has made-this psalm isn’t first and foremost about analysis, it’s about awareness.

And the difference is massive.

Awareness doesn’t ignore or gloss over the very real questions and pains of this day, it transcends all of that analysis with the very straight forward acknowledgement that whatever this day is, it’s a gift to be embraced and engaged and maybe even enjoyed.

This day maybe be rough and bloody and heartbreaking but it is here and it is now and it is bursting with untold potential and possibility and our response to it is of utmost, urgent importance.

We may, it’s important to note, not get another one. My friends brother was recently killed in a car accident, another friends father just died, and the mother of another goes in for another round of chemo this week. You know exactly what I’m talking about-whatever this is, we’re all acutely aware that it’s very, very fragile.

So yes, this is the day.

-Rob Bell

 

The past 6 weeks…

Hard to believe at times I’ve been here 6 weeks already, the craziness of Bangladesh feels normal now. I laugh all the time about things. For example, the other day I saw a cow strolling down a main busy street and it wasn’t with any one. Where did it come from? I was laughing and I’m pretty sure my rickshaw driver thought I was a crazy foreigner. And last week when I was with Susan, Sandra, and Molly we went into a shop that sold bracelets, shampoo/cond, cookies and of course….olive oil. But then it got better…we got coffee served to us. Bangladesh is really hard to describe!

February 21 was National Mother Language Day. Everyone from Alingon went early in the morning to a field where thousands of people in the city went to honor everyone that died fighting for their language. A long walk with all the girls but really fun! A big day for Bangladesh!

A few weeks ago, the girls from Alingon who I don’t teach had a sports ceremony/event at their school. I loved seeing their school, I felt like I was in the 40’s looking at their classrooms. Some of them had to dress up and I still don’t know what the reason was! I asked a few times but no one could tell me clearly. But, they looked so adorable with their fake beards and mustaches and couldn’t stop giggling.

Several weeks ago when Troy’s parents were here, his mom Jean wanted to make an American meal for them and something they had to eat with a fork! They eat with their right hand. It was hilarious watching them try to eat it, they didn’t know what to do. But they loved it and also loved all the raw veggies, which are usually cooked here. And they have noodles here called Maggi noodles!

And the picture with me and the cows….well, I asked my friend to take a picture of me with the really cute little brown calf on the right but the mother had a different agenda. She charged towards me and it happened so fast I realized afterwards how stupid that was and I could have gotten seriously hurt. The only picture he took was right at that moment! Zoom into my face, pure terror.

It’s been an exciting and eventful week! There’s been so much going on I had a hard time thinking about where to start….

Last Sunday, I met 3 women from Boston that I got connected with through my friend Troy. Sandra, Susan, and Molly started work here in 2011. They are cosmetologist and salon owners in Boston. They trained several girls in 2011 along with other teachers at an orphanage here in Khulna and taught them how to do hair, skin, and nails. Just a few months ago they opened a salon for the girls to work in. There have been many bumps along the way and several girls went on to do other things. They now have 2 girls in the salon. I joined them everyday in the afternoon while they gave the girls more training and promoted the salon. They passed out cards and gave out free services to get people in and the word out. They had so many clients I jumped in and did 3 haircuts, it was awesome!  They had a grand opening on Thursday night which was successful.

The 2 girls working at the salon are very young and have been raised in an orphanage their whole lives so this working thing and being on their own is a huge adjustment. I’m going to help train them a few times a week and stop in often to give them guidance. It’s such an amazing opportunity they have been given by Sandra, Susan and Molly, who made one of the girls the owner. I hope the girls don’t give up and keep working hard and I hope I can continue to motivate them and give them confidence in their skills. It would be good to have someone else in their that has experince, and since I can’t be there all the time, I might be doing some interviewing as well.

It was so great being with them this week and connecting with other people on the needs here. We became instant friends and laughed and cried together all week. I’m so happy to help them with what they started over a year ago. They have put so much work and money into helping young girls here. God put us together this week for a reason. The possibilities are so exciting I can hardly sleep.

On Friday, all the girls from the Alingon Home came to the salon and we gave them haircuts and painted their nails. They have never been to a salon and I don’t think any of them have taken a shower like we do. They bath outside on the roof top of their home and fill a bucket of water. It was so much fun washing their hair! They were so excited. Here are some pictures of our day.

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