Sunday, February 22, 2009

Enjoy the video, and check out my new blog

There will be no more posts to Bangladesh Trip 2008. Thanks for your interest and support.

To wrap things up, here's my slideshow of the trip. I hope you enjoy it. [Special thanks to teammates/photographers Marg Garrett and Doug MacDougald for their great shots]

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Home at last

After 2 flights totalling 17 hours, we're home. Mr. Hadi and his wife, Marzan, hosted a farewell feast at their home and presented us with gifts on our final evening in Dhaka. You see us in this photo wearing our new duds --- The Panjabi for the gentlemen and the Kameez for the ladies. (For more pictures visit the photo gallery)

As a new travelling volunteer for SCAW, and on my first visit to south Asia, I was looking forward to this Bangladesh distribution as a learning experience, and it exceeded all of my expectations.

Working with a great team of Canadians and overseas volunteers, I have learned things on many levels --- about Sleeping Children, about Bangladesh and its people, and about myself.

I already knew, of course, that SCAW is a wonderful organization with a tradition of helping in many parts of the world. I had not fully appreciated the extent to which the spirit of founder Murray Dryden guides the decisions and interactions in the field day-to-day.

I saw it in the unflagging concern for the details, in the care with which the children were always handled, and in the courtesy and respect accorded all participants, even under trying conditions and time pressures.

When choices had to be made, Murray was there in minds and hearts, ensuring that the mission remained clear and shining. Our expert team leaders, Joan and Richard, ensured that there were no compromises of the SCAW values despite the inevitable challenges and distractions created by unfamiliar surroundings, language difficulties, and cultural differences.

I learned how much the Bangladeshi volunteers were an integral and essential part of the SCAW team, not just in terms of procurement and logistics, but also as fully involved participants in deciding how to deal with the reality on the ground. Many of them, and some of their spouses, are now friends, and I know we will stay in touch.

And I learned how a team can come together, using the talents and strengths of all its members, while setting aside personal comfort to achieve a common purpose. There was never a time when a ready hand was not extended, or a favour withheld.

The in-country experience has been a constant and enveloping flow of sights, sounds, smells and sensations, sometimes assaulting the senses, sometimes delicately massaging them. Heat, humidity, flavours, chants, laughter, sweat, flowers, dust, rain, depressing poverty juxtaposed with relative luxury, excitement and mind-numbing fatigue --- all were part of an everyday experience far removed from life back in Canada.

In fact, Canada barely existed for two weeks, except for occasional e-mail messages from home. We were all fully engaged with our new friends and with the task at hand. We had no idea what the stock market was doing, how the world financial crisis was unfolding, what political issues were in the headlines back home. We could have checked, as we had iPhone and Blackberry and Internet, but these things were of little concern on planet SCAW. There is something about this thing that focuses the mind of even the most addicted news junkie.

I learned that in every country, and especially in Bangladesh, many people are working for the improvement of their country and their communities, making personal sacrifices for the betterment of others, and reaching deeply into their own pockets to make it happen in a society where public funding is not available for many worthwhile causes. They have a vision of where the country must go, and they are committed to doing what they can to move in that direction.

The people of Bangladesh are industrious and hard working, motivated by the same desires and goals as us --- security and wellbeing for themselves and their families, a better life for their children.

I also learned that this almost-66-year-old could hang in there physically and match the pace of younger folks for 12-hour days with the humidex at 45. I learned that I could be a good follower, something I am not called upon to do in my regular life. I learned that I can live happily, at least for a while, without all of the gee-whiz stuff we take for granted back home, taking pleasure from simple things --- the joy of a child with his or her new bedkit, the big grins when they grabbed my hand and said “Hello,” or “Assalamu Alaykum,” or “Thank-you.” And I learned that I can still get excited.

Thanks to our team leaders, our Canadian and overseas team mates, and all who supported this effort in whatever way they could.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Last distribution

After almost 2 weeks of faithful service, my iPhone is failing to access the network today, so this is being posted from the hotel's computer, which is crawlingly slow, so there will only be a couple of pictures. [Update: Upon arrival back home in Canada, I discovered a message from Rogers Wireless, left on my home phone in Brampton, advising that they had arbitrarily suspended my cell service because they thought the roaming charges were higher than normal. Duh!]

We went to Tongibari today for our final distribution of 600 bedkits. This village on the Meghna river is shown in the above photo.

After the kids received their kits, we visited the home of one of the recipients, and strolled around the village. This was the first time we had actually seen how the poor in the countryside actually live. It is appalling. This particular group of families had lost their homes when the river flooded its banks, and had relocated to rented houses. Fuel for the cooking fire is dried cow dung. The cooking stove is hand moulded from clay by the wife and mother. She was making a new one as we visited.

As you can see here, the bedkit had been unpacked, and the mattress was drying in the sun. Other parts of the kit were seen inside the house. All of the items are highly prized by these people who have nothing but what they can make for themselves.

I am out of gas, as are my team mates. We are in sensory overload, and will need time to process all of the information we have taken in. We have no frame of reference for much of what we have seen. We know it will be impossible to accurately describe this to our friends and family back home. We can show them the pictures, tell them the stories, but they will not really understand if they have not experienced something like this first hand.

So our team shares a special bond that comes from going through this together, discussing it, trying to understand it, trying to assess whether we made much of a difference by being here.

We think we did make a difference. There are 8,000 kids who have a decent place to sleep, a new outfit, a mosquito net, a water bottle, a back pack, a sweater for the cold weather, pyjamas, some school supplies, and some other odds and ends. The proof is in the smiles.

I think my job was the best one on the team. I had the last station, where the kids received their bedkits. I could see that they didn't really believe 100% that they were going to get one until it was actually in their hands, and then every one of them broke out in a big smile that said, "Yeah, it IS real. I'm actually going home with this. Wow!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Team photo

Here we are with some of the kids.


I've mentioned the crazy traffic here. All cars and vans are outfitted with heavy steel bumpers like this, front and rear, to provide at least some protection. It's rare to see a vehicle that has no dents or

School days

This gong is the bell at the school in Shibpur where today's bedkit distribution was held. The teacher rings it by striking it with the curved stick at the top of the picture.

Construction site

We passed this construction project on the way to our distribution site. Most of this kind of work is done by manual labour. These workers, male and female, were filling baskets with dirt to be carried away.

Yesterday, we saw railway cars full of gravel being unloaded in the same fashion.

High touch

There is much more touching in Bangladesh society than in Canada. Men of all ages and social strata are often seen holding hands while walking or chatting. Here, in a relaxed moment, one of our helpers throws an arm over the shoulders of his workmate.


Cricket is huge here. This young batsman demonstrates his form.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Going down the road

After a distribution, the paths and roads are full of children wearing the new clothes they received in their kit, and carrying the rest of their bedkit on their heads as these girls are doing. (Photo by Marg).

Bonus photo

As we were packing up, this girl was starting the evening chores, tending to the goats and cattle.

Homeward bound

This mother is loaded up and ready to head home with bedkits for her son and his friend.

Toilet talk

We're getting pretty familiar with squat toilets, which are the norm here.

They range from high-end models with a hose for bum flushing, to the kind pictured here with a couple of bricks and a bucket of water, to a hole in the floor and nothing else.

Personally, I find wet wipes work well, but then there is a disposal problem as it is poor form to throw anything in the toilet.

User feedback

Team member Marg, with Mr. Hadi translating, gets parents' assessment of the usefulness of the bedkit's contents. Feedback was very positive.

Arrival at Shibpur

As they always are, the kids were ready and waiting for us. This morning, as we arrived they broke into loud applause that lasted a minute or two.

It was very moving and several of us had a moist eye. Then they sang their national anthem, and we reciprocated with a rousing chorus of O Canada.

A long and winding road

Everything looks so much better in sunshine. Even the potholes seem shallower. This photo shows the road into Shibpur for today's distribution of 700 bedkits at the local school.

No other motorized vehicles passed down this extremely narrow and twisty road all day.

Traffic is so light that a man was drying his rice right on the road.

The pause that refreshes

Here I try coconut water from the green fruit, considered a special treat here.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pedal power

I have mentioned the 740,000 rickshaws in Dhaka. Team mate Doug M shot this one in the rain.

School Days

Most of our distributions with the Lions Club are in schools. This picture shows the wall of a typical classroom. Headmasters and teachers are very high status people here, reflecting the importance accorded education by parents. The schools are poorly equipped, and supplies like paper and pencils are in short supply.

Today we went to Balaboo. We started out in wind and rain on a good road that quickly deteriorated into the world's biggest potholes, some 12 ft. in diameter.

This went on for half an hour, with van creaking and groaning as the body twisted. Good thing Marg, with her stomach problems, wasn't on this ride. The sun peeked out briefly at 9:00 a.m., the rain stopped, the winds died down, and the highway smoothed out a bit.

At Baraboo, all went very well. The people there were particularly friendly and the kids seemed extra-handsome. It was fun to see moms and dads heading home with bedkits on their heads and children in tow.

It was also good working weather in the mid-20s. The forecast is for a return of the hot stuff later this week.

We're being taken to an Indian restaurant tonight.

We have now distributed 6,000 of our 8,000 bedkits.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Team member down

We are short one team member this morning as Marg has fallen ill with stomach problems.

This is not uncommon among westerners exposed to unfamiliar, spicy foods, sometimes served on plates washed under the village pump
without benefit of soap (as was the case yesterday).

Here's a shot of yesterday's working conditions.

High fashion

Lions Club representatives Mr. Hadi and his wife Marzan proudly show us their clothing store and adjoining factory.

Some of their saris are priced at $USD 1,000+. Shown are two skilled workers embroidering with gold thread.

There is a huge gulf here between the relatively small business elite and the poverty-stricken masses.


It rained steadily for the second day in a row, and we were forced again to find an indoor location for picture-taking and handing out bedkits.

At the village of Sreenagar, a school room filled the bill. It was impossibly dark, lit only by whatever light entered through a louvred window on this overcast day.

There was, of course, no electricity. Somehow, team leader Richard and Doug M were able to find camera settings that produced good photographs, and we got 500 kits distributed to kids who arrived on foot and by boat from the surrounding countryside.

As this picture shows, water was everywhere today, and the temperature plummeted to 22 degrees. This felt cool in contrast to last week, and some of our party reached for sweaters and jackets.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Today we struck out for a distribution at Naria, a village near the Padma River.

The 3-hour trip took us over a winding single-lane road, through rice paddies and potholes that could swallow a VW Beetle. Traffic stalled when a large truck ahead of us got stuck in the mud.

The shoulders of the narrow road were lined in places with houses and shops just inches away from our van and hanging out over the river, their backsides supported by stilts.

We marched aboard a rusty old shallow-draft boat singing "O Canada" and waving the Canadian flag that always accompanies us. I took this picture through the open hatch. The crowd typifies the kind of curious attention we attract everywhere we go.

After almost an hour on the river, subjected to the deafening noise of the engine, we arrived at Naria, and clambered up a rain-soaked mud bank to the footpath leading to the village.

The villagers had erected a large canopy on a bamboo frame to keep us and the kids dry for the picture-taking, but this plan collapsed along with the canopy as wind and rain assaulted us without let-up.

We moved our operation indoors, using a funeral bier (used to carry
the dead to the cemetery) as a backdrop for the kids' pictures.

We distributed 800 kits, and then reversed our journey after sharing a light meal with a family in the village. Of course, we were soaked and had to sit in our wet clothes the four and a half hours back to Dhaka. None of us complained. We could only say how lucky we are to be having this adventure, seeing things we couldn't have imagined, and putting a big smile on a lot of kids' faces.

Must be ready for a 7:00 a.m. start tomorrow, so will sign off for now.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Water taxis

Bangladesh is essentially a huge delta. The water starts it's journey in the mountains of Nepal, travels down through India, dividing into several rivers --- the Padma, Jamuna, and Meghna --- as it flows to the Bay of Bengal on the Indian Ocean.

These rivers have deposited their sediment over the centuries to create the land now known as Bangladesh. Most transportation of goods and services is by boat. This picture shows water taxis that ferries people from one part of Dhaka to another.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New friends

Our "day off" culminated with a special dinner at a restaurant called Emanuel's Barbeque, hosted by the Rotary Club team in our honour. They are very gracious people, and all expressed sincere appreciation for our work here.

I particularly like Captain Khaliquzzaman (Khaliq) and his wife, both of whom we have gotten to know rather well. He, along with Captain Hossain, has been ensuring that we get around the country as comfortably as possible. They accompanied us on the steamer trip to Barisal.

She presented each of us with one of these hand-embroidered pictures, each a unique Bangladesh scene. Mine depicts a village. We will be proud to display it back in Brampton, and to tell the story behind it.

Right now I am capping off my day of R&R with a beer on the balcony. Yes, friends, when we checked back into the Rose Wood Residence upon our return to Dhaka, I scored a room with a balcony AND a queen size bed with TWO pillows.

This is the first beer since London 9 days ago, and was acquired at
our "speakeasy" source (see earlier post re: wine).

Seeing things

A day of playing tourist in Dhaka, and a needed break to get recharged as we have been working long days and travelling long distances. The Rotary Club half of this distribution trip is complete, with 4,000 kits given to the kids --- many in rural areas where few NGOs go. Now we begin the Lions Club portion.

Two wonderful young men who have been helping us with our work took us on a tour of the city, including a visit to a very old fort that is now a huge green space with gardens and a museum.

We discovered it is also a place for young lovers to grab some time together, away from the masses of humanity in this huge city of 14 million people.

Among facts learned --- there are 740,000 rickshaws in Dhaka.

Language issues cause many minor missteps. A street vendor selling maps approached our vehicle while we were stopped in traffic --- price 300 taka ($2.00). While negotiating for 2 maps for 500, the traffic
moved on after the money had been handed over, but before the second
map had been received. So this is now known as Doug's 500-taka map. Still a bargain.

The picture is a typical pedal-powered delivery vehicle called a rickshavan. There are thousands of every description carrying everything from chickens to sewer pipe.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back in Dhaka

Pleasant overnight steamer trip. 27 degrees at 5:00 a.m. Humidex 40. Here is the scene at the entrance to the terminal. Today is a rest break, and we hope to some sightseeing.

We drove through the commercial, government, university area on the way to our hotel. Buildings were modern and tall along broad avenues. Quite a contrast with most of what we have seen over the past week.

A shining beacon

This Islamic prayer centre was built by a wealthy patron in this
otherwise remote agricultural area. We visited after dark as part of
an informal tour led by Capt. Hossain as he took us to the steamer for
the return trip to Dhaka.

Let's sing

Team mate Marg gets the kids singing When You're Happy And You Know It during a lull in yesterday's proceedings.

Happiness is ...

I liked this smile.

Record day

This picture shows the team in action at a massive 1300-kit
distribution in Barisal. We set a team record of 637 kits handed to
kids in the first 2 hours. Humidex was 42.

Wonderful hospitality from Captain Hossain, whose family has lived in
this home for 9 generations. We were treated to breakfast this
morning, and a lunch of traditional foods when the distribution was
completed around 3:00 pm.

The family's first generation was buried here in 1637, according to a
marker on the property.

Our steamer casts off at 8:30 pm for the return trip to Dhaka.
Shipboard passenger quarters last night were quite comfortable.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


After a peaceful night's sleep aboard the steamer, we've arrived in
Barisal. Here's the view of the dock from the foredeck.

Anchors away

It is 8:15 Tuesday and I am standing on the bow of the Barata, a river
ship that will take us overnight to Baisal for our next distribution.

Here's my view of the dock in Dhaka harbour. We expect see James Bond
mingling in the crowd.

The entertainer

I am sitting with a dozen kids under a tree in Dhaka waiting for another truckload of bedkits to arrive. The iPhone is keeping all of them entertained, particularly the Koi Pond, but they also seem to like the bluegrass tunes I'm playing for them. "Caravan" by Bill Keith is a particular crowd pleaser.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Southern exposure

We just got back from a distribution of 500 dedkits in Feni, to the
south toward the Bay of Bengal, which meant another long distance trip
on the crazy highways.

I am starting to develop an appreciation for the informal code of
conduct that makes these work in the absence of any traffic law
enforcement. It's a fine balance of aggression and compromise, and
there seems to be an understanding that the buses won't run the little
3-wheeled taxis and bicycle rickshaws into the ditch.

At it's best, it is smooth, almost balletic. At it's worst noisy and
jerky. Terrible exhaust fumes and grit in the air filling the nasal
passages and making the eyes water.

We have seen a couple of wrecks, but amazingly few under the

This picture shows men digging clay for making bricks in the kilns
behind them. Labour is cheap and plentiful, so you don't see power
equipment on construction sites and the like.

The countryside presents many wonderful views of rice fields, bamboo
weavers, cows and goats foraging on the roadside, fishing nets on long
bamboo poles.

Virtually the whole country is a river delta, the monsoon season just
ended, and everything is very green.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A very long day

On the road around 6:00 am for what turned out to be a round trip that
involved almost 8 hours on the road, which meant getting back at 7:00
pm after a 500-kit distribution.

This picture shows how well the Rotary guys had the kids organized at
Sirajgong. By the way, those snappy outfits are part of the bedkits,
and they put them on before getting their pictures taken.

There have been a couple of minor casualties from long days, hot sun,
interruption of our natural rhythms, and unfamiliar food. Both Marg
and Doug M are suffering flu-like symptoms, but both soldiered on

The trip was wilder than any midway ride, with vehicles of all sizes
and descriptions cutting in and around each other, and buses without
lights coming at us out of the darkness. Thankfully we had a great
driver who got us back safely despite a couple of near misses.

The countryside is quite beautiful. Bamboo, sugar cane and various
vegetables are grown.

Falling asleep now and must be up for 4:00 am departure for Feni and a 500-kit distribution.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Wheels of commerce

There are thousands of rickshaws in this city and this is one of the repair yards, seen during an evening stroll with Richard. Looked to be hundreds of them waiting for a fix-up.

Getting' outa Dodge

With bedkits piled on the roof of the bus, they head home.

This must be the place

These kids were on one of 7 buses that made a 300 km round trip into
Dhaka for our distribution today.

Takin' it home

This shot of a girl heading home with her new bedkit kinda sums it all
up. The gentleman on the right is Mr. Choudhury, a past president of
Rotary and the man in charge of their partnership with Sleeping


Second day of distribution in Dhaka.Must be up early tomorrow for a 6:00 am start for a 3-hour trip to Sirajgonj for another distribution with our Rotary Club partners. Worked hard today, but we all felt pretty good about how well the team has gelled and makes use of our individual talents.

This is the first of a few pix by fellow team member Marg, who as you
can see is very good photographer with a very good camera. Marg, a former teacher, had these kids smiling as they waited to receive their kits and get their pictures taken.

Also had chance to see a bit of the street life, and have pictures, so check back later for some touristy stuff. Had my first rickshaw ride.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Distribution day one

Parents and children begin to gather by 8:30 am in front of the
Golshan Ladies Community Club, venue for the first two days of our bedkit distribution.

Day one is in the mid 30s celsius and very humid, requiring constant vigilance to avoid dehydration.

These kids might be wondering what's taking so long.

Inside, we volunteers are getting everything organized. By noon, it will be impossibly hot for both children and volunteers, and we will stop the show and move everything indoors.

The first of today's 600 kids know they are lucky to be at the front of the line. Many more will wait all day to get their precious kits.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

We're here

Here are my Canadian team mates raring to go.

We arrived this morning around 6:00 a.m. after 17 hours in the air and a 9-hour layover in London. We are all pretty bushed, but excited and looking forward to our adventure.

Our local Rotary Club team members met us at the airport with flowers and transportation to the hotel. The traffic here is unbelievable. Our driver should take up grand prix racing. He maintained a high speed while swerving smoothly through 3-wheeled csabs, huge trucks and buses on multi-lane roadsthat have no lane markings.

Also having technical problems. The iPhone worked fine at the airpot but service became intermittent at the hotel and then ceased entirely. So I'm on the crawlingly slow Windows machine in the hotel business centre.

Bedkit distributioon starts tomorrow here in Dhaka with 700 kits as the experienced hands show we newbies the drill.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Somewhere west of Kiev

The moving map display on the aircraft entertainment system says we are just west of Kiev (thinking about my CharityVillage team mate Natalya, who comes from there), 6,000 km from Dhaka. The in flight meal was a delicious fish pie made with Alaskan pollack.

No idea what time it is in Kiev, but the time in Dhaka is about 11:00 pm, so we have about 6 more hours to go on this 9.5 hour leg.

Haven't really slept since leaving home, so will crash for sure at some point. A shower and a shave would be nice.

Halfway there

We're in London, well Heathrow, for a 9-hour layover before our
departure to Dhaka. We arrived here around 6:30 am, and are all in
need of a nap. Here's one of our team doing just that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Here we go

Here's our team at Pearson International, ready to check in.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ready to go!

I'm all packed, and managed to come in under British Airways' luggage limits --- bags can not exceed 51 lbs (23 kg) and total height/width/length dimensions of 62". Two checked bags are permitted. My second bag will be a hockey bag packed with soccer balls, cloth diapers, baby formula, baseball caps, hospital gowns, and other items that team members are taking over for the kids and their parents. We had hoped to take medical supplies, but the necessary customs pre-approvals could not be obtained in time.

The bag will be used to bring home a sample bedkit on the return trip.

Hearing from a lot of friends wishing me "bon voyage." This will be the last post before heading out to the airport tomorrow. All future posts will be from the iPhone, if the technology gods co-operate.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Registering with Foreign Affairs

Team captain Richard tipped us to the registration service provided by the Canadian government for all Canadians travelling or living abroad. This service is provided so that we travellers can be contacted and assisted in an emergency in a foreign country, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest, or in the event of a family emergency at home. The website for this is

You can register in advance online, which I did, and then activate your file by phone when you arrive in the country.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Last of the meds

Made my fifth and final trip to the Travel Clinic today to get a prescription for Mefloquine, a new anti-malarial drug recommended when travelling to areas of the world where there is resistance to conventional anti-malarials. That's the last of the meds required for this trip. Possible side effects of this drug include strange dreams and nightmares. Whoo-hoo!

A week from today we're on our way. Current weather there is 28-31 Celsius and rainy.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A solution for team communications.

I had a little e-chat with team leader Richard about ways for team members to communicate with one another in-country. Cellphones are pretty much ruled out for the reasons mentioned in my last post. Turns out we had both been thinking about 2-way radios. These are available for around $100.

Bottom line, I will get a pair of these to take along. Problem solved.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wireless woes

A couple of months ago, in preparation for this trip, I switched from Bell Mobility to Rogers Wireless in order to enjoy the GSM standard used in Bangladesh and most of the world outside North America.

Several of our team members, including me, were assuming we could buy a SIM card for our Rogers cellphones in Bangladesh, which would have greatly reduced the cost of calls between team members while in that country.

Unfortunately, we have discovered that Rogers Wireless does not allow their subscribers' phones to be "unlocked" in order to permit this. On the Rogers network, the mobile phone is locked to its [Canadian] SIM card, so all our calls will effectively be calls to Canada, even though both parties are in the same city in Bangladesh.

One of our team members thinks texting might be a solution. Sounds promising, but we'll see.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The paper flies

Today was label sorting day. In the above picture, members of our Bangladesh team sort the labels that will be photographed with bedkit recipients at the distribution sites. Each bedkit donor receives a photo showing the receiving child with her/his bedkit and a label displaying the donor's name.

Less than two weeks to go!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Getting close

Back to the travel clinic today to get my Dukoral, an oral vaccine for Cholera and Diarrhea. This is taken in 2 doses, 1 week apart, before departure. The cost was $75.

Checking the current weather in Dhaka, I note the daytime temperatures over the next few days range from 29 to 36 degrees Celsius, dropping to 23 to 24 degrees at night. Lots of showers and thunder-showers.

Also hearing from a few stragglers who are just now getting around to making good on their pledges to donate bedkits. Every one helps.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Visa received

With about a month to go, I got my passport back from the Bangladesh High Commission in Ottawa, with a visa stamp for entry to the country. The process took about 2 weeks. Total fees and courier costs were just over $100.

Still hearing from a few last minute bedkit donors who had pledged earlier this summer.

The floods are receding in Bangladesh, but are leaving waterborne diseases in their wake. Large areas of croplands were also destroyed, exacerbating a continuing food security problem in this country of 150 million people.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Five weeks to go

In five weeks from today, we will be departing Toronto for London and then on to Dhaka. Linda at Sleeping Children says anyone planning to make a bedkit donation for Bangladesh should do it within the next week. If you have been procrastinating, you can print a donation form at

Many thanks to all friends, neighbours, relatives and colleagues who have generously supported this effort.

They are having serious flooding in Bangladesh. Although the worst seems to over, the situation in the central parts of the country is still really bad. Major highways out of Dhaka, the capital, are impassable due to deep water. Three children drowned on Sunday.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Rosedale Village responds

No, this is NOT the famous Rosedale in Toronto, home of the rich and famous. This is a nice little retirement community on a golf course in Brampton, home of the memory-challenged.

Since my article appeared in the community newsletter last week, many neighbours have been asking for information about donating bedkits. I have discovered that the best way to handle these inquiries is to make up a little kit with a donation form and brochure in an envelope addressed to Sleeping Children.

The whole online donation thing appears to be a turn-off for most of these retirees, so I am trying to make it as easy as possible. I must say the local response has been very encouraging. Thanks to all of you who may be checking out this blog.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Weather forecast

What will the Bangladesh weather be like in October? The monsoon season usually ends around the end of September, followed by winter, which lasts from October through early March.

Winter is cool and dry, with temperature ranges from 5°C to 22°C (41°F to 72°F).

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Going wireless

When we get to Bangladesh, I want to be able to update my posts regularly.

I think I've found a way to e-mail my posts from my iPhone.

We'll know it works if this appears on the blog.

[Note: Hurray, it worked! Now I've got to figure out how to do it with photographs.]

Monday, July 21, 2008

Odds and ends

Got my Criminal Records Search (aka Police Check) done at the Peel Regional Police headquarters on Friday. This was the first time for me, and I was amazed at how many people were there for the same thing. It took about 10 minutes and $25.

My fundraising appeal has gone viral, as they say in the online marketing biz. I am now hearing from people twice removed from those I originally contacted. Many are already aware of Sleeping Children, and some tell wonderful stories about founder Murray Dryden in the early days of the organization.

I also heard from editor Sue, who confirms that my article will be in the next community newsletter.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Picking up speed

The donations are really coming in now. Some of my neighbourhood friends picked up the ball on this and are spreading the word to their own circles of friends (Thank-you Donna, Jim and Keith), with the result that people I never would have reached are telling me they're buying bedkits for Bangladesh. This is fun!

Also several of my team mates have donated bed kits. By my rough tally, including the matching kits I am buying, it looks like we are probably getting close to 200 kits, and I am sure there are many that I haven't even heard about.

One issue is the online payment form. People are telling me it's a bit cumbersome to use, and doesn't really provide a place to direct the gift to Bangladesh, so I am starting to suggest they print out a donation form and mail it in with a cheque. They can do that at

Friday, July 11, 2008

Helping hands

As I mentioned earlier, I got the word out on this by e-mail to a few friends, neighbours, and relatives. I must say I have been pleasantly surprised by the positive response, so I am emboldened to cast the net a bit wider. I have asked our local newsletter the Rosedale Village Voice to run an article containing the info on ways to donate.

Also, earlier this week, I had an opportunity to make a little presentation to my team mates, and one of them (Thank you Natalya!) actually donated online before I finished speaking --- the wonders of technology. I told them that I would be donating a bedkit in each of their names. I'm hopeful that more of them will warm to this fantastic cause, although I know that everyone already has several favourite charities of their own. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Say Cheese

Several people have asked me about the pictures we'll be taking of the kids who get your bedkits, so here's a sample from a previous Sleeping Children trip. 

Note that those spiffy outfits they're wearing came from their bedkits. They come to the distribution site well scrubbed, but with clothing that would have been pitched in the trash long ago here in Canada.

The team is very careful to ensure that the donor's name on the plaque is matched up to the actual kids that received their kits, and that all donors receive their pictures.

P.S. I'm told by experienced team members that the kids always have big, excited smiles until they get in front of the camera, and then often put on a serious expression befitting such a momentous occasion (usually the first time in their lives that they have posed for a picture).