Two years since our last visit, and there have been many changes, but the warmth of the welcome remains, and in minutes, I feel as if I'm settled back into my second-home. We travelled on the overnight launch - a 'new' (aka 'almost sea-worthy') one - just in time for breakfast, and after that the time flew by!
Our director, Zakir. has now been in post for a year, and Bhola Garden is settled and peaceful - well, as much as a home and school for fifty one children, a large staff, and frequent visitors ever will be! The younger children head off to the local primary school each morning and have lessons in sign language, Bangla and tailoring, carpentry or cooking in the afternoons. Three of the older boys - each of them deaf - who did extremely well in their winter exams, won places at the local secondary school, and other have a placement in the technical college.
Children and adults work incredibly hard in the community. Each has his or her chores, and when there is a job to be done, everyone gets involved. A big project right now is extending the boundary wall to make room for some milk cows - we're calling the new land 'The Pasture', which in Bangla is less romantically translated as Goyal Ghar or Cow Shed. Here the boys - Ahardot, Hassan and Rihan in the forefront - are building a new set of steps, and Deepok, our house-father, advises where the new wall will go. Meanwhile, the girls are cooking an enormous chicken biryani in the neighbouring kitchen.
There is plenty of time for playing: we had a Sports Day with everything from three-legged races to musical chairs and a dance display, and Zakir has added a slide to the (very erratic) swings. The little ones have only a handful of 'indoor' toys; the few jigsaw puzzles and board games we left were received as such a treat, it was a very poignant moment (next time, I'm packing Lego - here Ripa and Mitu play with what they have)
I could write about Bangladesh forever (some would say I already have done!) so I'll leave it there. There are more photos on our Bola's Children blog on the website: www.bholaschildren.org and, courtesy of Dinah's camera and, back home, Trustee Nick's editing skills, there will be a video before long...
I do just want to add a thank you to everyone who has bought the eBook of A Blonde Bengali Wife. I was able to add the first royalties cheque to our donation - and it makes such a huge difference. Thank you all - and pass it on by sending people to http://www.amazon.co.uk/Blonde-Bengali-Wife-Anne-Hamilton-ebook/dp/B016UDI86I
|View from the third floor roof where the guest rooms are|