There are many kinds of information

Trip Start Sep 05, 2006
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Flag of Bangladesh  ,
Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Yes with your motorbike and your sunglass and all kinds of smartness many people of Rayenda will be your admirer. "

What gets lost in translation is still one of the highlights of my day, and the last week or so has proven to be priceless for quotes from Bangladeshis. The quote above topped my list this past week, but there were many others that were not far off the mark. When asking Zamil, our other translator, to find out how far it was from our jobsite back to our base in Rayenda, he proceeded to consult several of the people within earshot. I was aware that it wasn't more than a few kilometers, and it surely did not warrant such a lengthy discussion. After all, there was only one road, and only one way to get from our job site back to our base. After several minutes of consultation, Zamil reported simply that "yes, there are many kinds of information." Additionally I have a new favorite question that has been asked of me, and other volunteers on more than one occasion. Casually walking to the market last week I was approached by a small boy who asked "what are you?" I felt the only appropriate response was "I am man!" He seemed happy with that and said "yes thank you" and ran away with a smile on his face.

This past week has been highlighted by the completion of a school in a nearby community, as well as the completion of a playground for a school in a tiny community ravaged by Cidr. I was happy to relinquish the burden of job site leadership after the completion of house 9 and work toward the completion of a school which we built from the ground up, including the design by some of our capable volunteers. My second day on the job site however, was an extremely unlucky one. Within about thirty minutes of being on site I lost my footing and went full stop into a Bangladitch. Bear in mind that ditches in Bangladesh serve as a form of waste disposal, human waste included. As I fell, my last wish was that I would not go in above my waste. A white man in a sewage ditch has more entertainment value to rural Bangladeshi school children than a johny jump up to a baby. A few men came quickly to my aid, and pulled me clear of the ditch, and after taking no more than two steps toward a pond to wash myself, I stepped on a 3 inch nail that went through my shoe into my foot. Ripping of my mud covered shoe to reveal a bloody foot increased the excitement level, but the Bangladeshis appeared very concerned about my new wound. They began asking if I had my vaccinations, immunizations and explained that Bangladehi nails are very dangerous. For the remainder of the day I didn't have any shoes to walk around in, so after doing my best to clean the wound, I spent the day working bare foot with an open wound. Mom...I did clean the wound well later that day, and it has healed perfectly well.

Our latest achievement has been building a playground at a school in a tiny community even more remote and cut off than we are here in Rayenda. We loaded three boats well above maximum capacity full of wood, cement volunteers and tools and floated 4 hours to what felt like the end of the earth. At the gates of the Sanderbands stands Ali Kahn school where we slept in a concrete classroom for the 6 days it took us to build a playground. It was business as usual when we arrived at the school and our Save the Children liaison explained to us that we were running some risk of confrontation with Muslim extremists in the area, and we also faced the danger of being attacked by Bengal tigers, the dominant life form in the Sanderbands. This was of course after being ensured by this very same man that there were no security concerns for us at the Ali Kahn school. This was a community had never seen white people before, and on several occasions people traveled from 6 kilometers away just to stare at us. Two records were set while we were there. A fellow volunteer, Alan, and myself drew a crowd of 101 onlookers as we bathed in a nearby pond. That is of course the only way to bathe there, and completely normal. Alan now holds the single person record for number of onlookers as he drew a crowd of 161 sitting on the steps of the school strumming my guitar. The logistics of leaving the site just a couple days ago proved to be another source of entertainment for Bangladeshis. We had to complete this task by land, and the only way to do so was to hire a convoy of "bans" which are simple bicycles rigged with a flat wood deck suitable for carrying people and stuff. Each volunteer rode on a ban loaded with 50 kg of supplies as well as themselves. My ban driver proceeded to take about ten pedal strokes and crash while taking a corner to quickly. I told him that I was now the "driver" and I pedaled the 6 km myself in the 95 degree heat as the ban driver sung Bangladeshi songs loud and proud. It was good training for a rusty triathlete anyway.

Thanks to my mother, Daniel, Andy, and Schloz, I have raised enough money through donations to Hands On, to fund my own house build, possibly two builds. I intend to start that build in about 9 days. Thank you, your generosity means a lot to me!!





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