In nearly fifty years of work, VSO has sent tens of thousands of volunteers to placements around the world, and inevitably, there have been accidents and some fatalities. Typically these are road – related, although someone did die of Rabies a few years ago. It’s not something we ever really think about; but at the same time you don’t want to add to the statistic. However, I’m not sure how it would look if ‘fell down a waterfall’ got included in the VSO ‘deaths during service’ book. It might be hard to be sympathetic, and an observer might rather just wonder what a total moron that person must have been.
Continue reading ‘Jungle 1, Tim 0. Idiots, Doctors and Nurses’
Published May 24, 2007
Bangladesh , Dhaka , Pics
You can see pictures from this day here.
In 1999 at the peak of my cricket obsession I went with a friend down to Hove to watch India play South Africa in the World Cup. I remember travelling from Waterloo in a train full of Indians, Hove being full of Indians, who even offered us 500 quid per ticket, and the ground being awash with Indian flags and happy faces (until they lost). I thought I’d had a real taste of the South Asian passion for the game. But I realised on May 12th that Hove was just a pale imitation compared to the full-on feast of euphoria that greeted us when we went to the Mirpur stadium in Dhaka.
Continue reading ‘The cricket, the crowd, the ecstasy.’
Published May 15, 2007
Bangladesh , Pics
I went on Sunday to watch Bangladesh take on India in a one-day international. It was without doubt the best day I’ve had in Bangladesh. I’ll write about it properly very soon, but here are the photos.
Tuesday was a momentous day for me, my organisation and the indigenous people of Sylhet Division – http://www.ecdo-bd.org was launched.
This is the new website of my NGO, which details all the work we do, our aims, and also features unique information and resources about the indigenous peoples of the region, the very latest academic research and analysis on their situation and future.
It also hosts photos of our work and the area we work in.
Our website makes me proud for several reasons – firstly, I hope it can serve as a new bridge between the indigenous people of Sylhet and the rest of the world, sharing information and highlighting their problems. In creating access for development professionals, international donors and academics, we are creating awareness, and opportunity for change.
Continue reading ‘Ethnic Community Development Organisation Website!’
This is the story of my trip to the Sundarbans jungle, annotated with photos taken by Tom Wipperman and Georgia Newsam. You can go straight to the photo page here. Or read on…
When I discovered I was coming to Bangladesh, in terms of the environment my first mental images were ‘floods’, ‘rice’ and ‘tigers’. To turn those visions in to reality – the first two are easy, they come to you. But you’ve got to go on a quest to find a Royal Bengal Tiger.
If you want to see them in their natural habitat, then you need to go to the Sundarbans – a littoral mangrove forest that covers around 3600 sq km of Bangladesh, right along the South West coast of the country, and then another 2500 sq km of India. About a third of the Sundarbans is covered by water; it’s essentially a giant flood plain that serves as crucial protection for Bangladesh against tidal surges, typhoons and other surges of natural energy. The Himalayas finally drain off through the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers of India here in to the Bay of Bengal, and the mixture of mountain silt and tidal sea-water has created fluctuating levels of salinity which in turn has resulted in a unique ecological balance.
Therefore you can enter an environment like no other on the earth. A wildlife sanctuary since 1966, and a World Heritage site since 1997, the Sundarbans is a haven for the natural world in Bangladesh; almost the only part of this densely populated country where you can be surrounded by life and none of it human.
It’s a maze of rivers, channels and tiny tributaries though, and not the kind of place one can explore armed with a good picnic and a pedalo. Luckily for me, one of VSO’s partner NGOs operates an ‘eco-tour’ of the Sundarbans, so nine of us set off on December 29th for five days of cruising through the deltas. We boarded our little boat in the early evening at Khulna, the nearest big city to the Sundarbans. It was small but snug, and we were soon eating the first of many huge meals out on deck and chugging along the river in to the night.
Continue reading ‘The Sundarbans’
Published February 4, 2007
Bangladesh , Dhaka , London , Media , Pics
One of my best friends in Sylhet is a 13 year old boy called Kobir. He lives with his family in a small house just outside Sylhet, with his parents and eight brothers and sisters. They’re incredibly generous to me and lots of fun to be with.
Kobir speaks good English, because he’s been learning from Luke, who came to Sylhet nearly 3 years ago with VSO. Kobir also acts as my official interpreter! I am trying to teach Kobir cockney, but I probably shouldn’t. Luke helped Kobir create these three websites.
Kobir went to England over Christmas. This is his story of the trip.
Kobir also has another website about Bangladesh, which he showed to an English school he visited. It’s got some good pictures and interesting info, and a quiz to test your knowledge.
This is a website of pictures by Kobir’s brother, Samir. Samir is 15, completely self-taught, and really good. He’s also very generous, and a couple of these pictures now brighten up my dining room.
Published January 25, 2007
Bangladesh , Pics , Sylhet
My VSO colleague Mikey came up to help us design a website. He’s not only an IT specialist, but also a fantastic photographer, and took some photos of Sylhet which you can see here. Including one of me looking grumpy in my office – I’m the white one.
Mikey’s blog is here.