Posts Tagged ‘Family’

December 2012 saw me travel around Bangladesh doing all sorts of stuff! This post is going to be quite long and eclectic in its collection of topics but I hope you enjoy it. This holiday was kind of disappointing in that it wasn’t what a typical holiday used to be. All my cousins were either overseas or busy with work so the regular caram sessions, late night antakshari rounds and endless gossip was non-existent. It might be a testament to my age but this holiday was more about networking, dinners and meeting new people which was fun too!

My main tasks in Bangladesh were to do the following which I talk about in my other post:

1. Complete the handover of incubators and phototherapy units Probasy had raised funds for all year
2. Find out more about what Prothom Alo trust does
3. Meet with the people at Muslim Aid to see what they do and how Probasy can help
4. Meet with the team at D.net behind their info lady campaign
5. Go to Bhola on a teaching campaign as part of Co-Id. The NFP founded by Fred Hyde.

My first week in Dhaka made me re-evaluate all my plans with the news disseminating warnings of hortals and protests which had become so innovatively disruptive that they now lit fires in the middle of the roads and smashed windscreens of moving buses and cars. The second hortal I witnessed saw the mindless killing of Biswajit Das. The net exploded with criticism of the government and media “Biswajit was stabbed to death after falling prey to violent clashes between the student wing of the political party in power and that of the opposition. It has been alleged that taking him to be a member of the opposition party, the cadres of the government’s youth wing beat up Biswajit and then repeatedly stabbed him with sharp weapons in broad daylight and full public view. Later, the youth died on the way to the hospital. The shocking event took place on 9 December, 2012, during an 8 hour road blockade programme organized by the opposition.”

This was only the first in a series of events and stories I heard and saw which opened my eyes to the reality of a Bangladesh the people living there try so hard to communicate to us NRBs (non-resident Bangladeshis). Working, moving around, getting things done in Bangladesh is next to impossible. Even planning two things in one day is too much to ask for. I was so disappointed with how everyone acted and reacted in a country that has so much to offer and be self-sustaining. I also saw hope though, I met some remarkable individuals working for some great organisations striving to make a real difference. While I was unable to make a trip to Sylhet all the other things on my list were successfully ticked off and the NGOs were amazing… but more on that later.

Before I get to the amazing work being done in Bangladesh I have to mention the events which took place in Bangladesh while I was there which set the context for what Bangladesh has become. These are set out in more detail in my other post on Rape. Having set this context in which men and women are unsafe in the streets for no good reason, you can see why Bangladesh has become once again worthy of the title so aptly given.

Once known as the bottomless basket case, Bangladesh was so named due to the endless stream of donations pouring into the country which disappeared without any improvements to the country or its people. When France donated millions through the Food for Work program to build and improve Bangladesh’s roads as well as give rural families a proper income, it was a great idea that worked properly for only a short while before some bright spark decided it was easier to just pocket all the money. To this day Bangladesh runs on donations. I would go so far as to heartbreakingly call my country one that is run on begging. The US, Australia, the UK, and China are the biggest donors to Bangladesh and millions of dollars are poured in to alleviate poverty, improve nutrition, healthcare and infrastructure. 95% or more of this money never reaches the people. It is used to line the pockets of the rich who go onto weekend shopping sprees in Singapore or to buy luxury cars and houses in forging countries while more and more of the poor become ultra poor.. or dead.

This scenario is only aided and abetted by the ridiculous and farcical politics of Bangladesh. Just thinking about it makes me angry. Two women with no credentials, no history of success and only their male relations to give them any credibility have lasted decades in a feud which sucks the life and liberty out of Bangladesh. Even a caretaker government couldn’t salvage and restore order. Politics is prevalent in every aspect of life in Bangladesh, be it trying to get a job, booking a hall for a wedding, trying to buy a house or car. It’s just crazy. And it’s making the people crazy. The bangalis I once knew who laughed and smiled and showed endless hospitality in the most adverse of situations are now narrow minded and self serving. Not only do adults act this way, they teach it to their kids. On 16th December, Bangladesh’s Victory Day celebrations were in full swing and in the spirit of celebration I gave some chocolates to a group of kids standing in the street outside our house. There were about 6 of them aged between 5 to 10. All of them tried to grab as many chocolates as they could. I said that if they didn’t take one and move aside that no one would get any but alas there was no brotherhood or love between these children. It was a ‘I’ll take what I can and run’ mentality that I saw all too prevalent in their adult counterparts. When I went to Bhola to teach at the schools run by Co-Id, the teachers and students alike were more focused on what gifts we had brought than what we were saying.

It is truly disappointing to see such a beautiful fertile country with such wonderful people being degraded to fighting over menial things as the politicians and the wealthy suck the life and resources out … literally. Bangladesh is floating on gas and yet gas is not available in homes almost all day, being siphoned off and sold to other countries. This is the context for the work I am about to relay. If your still with me and despairing.. don’t. There are organisations like Prothom Alo Trust, D.Net, Muslim Aid and Co-Id that are trying their best to lift Bangladesh out of the hole it’s dug for itself.

Chartiy in Bangladesh has details on what I saw, where I went and who I spoke to so please have a read if you are interested and contact me for any information. Their work is truly inspiring and restored faith in me that there are people in Bangladesh who think beyond their own pockets and the here and now. Bangladesh is a lush and plentiful country which produces so much that its inhabitants should have hearts as big as their rice fields. It is a shame that this is not the case. I hope the next time there is cause for me to visit my birthplace again, it will be to witness a better Bangladesh.



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Father’s Day.

There was a time when the highest point on my horizon was the broad shoulders of my father. There was a time when I used to run outside to the sound of a car horn because it meant he had come home from work.

My dad is my Hero. His special power is the ability to be anything I need him to be and to always be there for me. He is my accountant when it’s time to do tax returns. He is my saviour when I am running late for my train. He puts my welfare and wellbeing ahead of his own. And that to me is a real Hero.

Fathers are special things. A lot of recognition and affection goes to mothers and rightly so, but often it overshadows the sturdy, reliable, reassuring presence that equates to a father’s love. Fathers provide. Fathers care – even if in their gruff, stern, off handed way. Fathers are strong, hardworking and most importantly dependable.

Dependable is a word that is synonymous with the Sub-continental Father. No matter if he is tall or short, fair or dark, fat or thin – the Indian father is the bastion of the family. He cares for his wife and children; he looks after their educational and physical welfare and provides for them sufficient means to explore opportunities. He is the person you turn to when you run out of money. He is the person you turn to when your mother is being unreasonable. He is the foundation of your knowledge as well as the aim of your expectations.

What is important to remember though is that it is not enough to just buy a card and a watch or a shirt or tie and give a hug once a year. The best actions are those that are consistent – no matter how small. No matter how old you are or how busy, take time out every day for your parents. Even if it’s a short chat about nothing important at all – remember that your father is the person who made time for you every step of your life and five minutes of your day is nothing in comparison – but it will bring a smile to the face that saw you as you first came into the world. It will straighten the shoulders which were once the broadness of your horizons and it will strengthen the ties of love that exist between father and child as God intended.

Every man aspires to be like his father and every woman searches for her father’s qualities in her mate. A father is a teacher, a scholar, a coach, a teammate, an ally and a friend. Sigmond Freud once said, ‘I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.’ From the moment we are born and begin to be aware of our surroundings – we are aware of the protective presence of our fathers, A presence that ebbs and flows with the tide of our growth but always remains a constant.  Father’s day is a day to celebrate not who your father is – but who you see him to be – The first superhero you ever knew.

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Family Values

I opened up the SMH website this morning and was immediately faced with several articles that made me wonder at the deplorable state of our social and familial values in this day and age. Five years ago I do not recall opening up the paper and reading things like, Lane dumped baby in bushland: taxi driver and Sydney teen pulls gun on father: police.

What is going on? What are we doing so wrong as a society that our moral fabric is disintegrating and family values are just hollow words? Why is it that the more technologically savvy and knowledgeable and empowered we become the less humane we are?

I have read countless articles on murder, violence, harassment and abuse taking place within the family sphere at an alarmingly increasing rate. Fathers abusing daughters, mothers abandoning their child, children lashing out at their parents in the most horrific of ways.

How could we have come this far? Even the Neanderthals we parody with our superiors airs in television shows would hang their heads for shame at the wilful arrogant and uncaring attitude families have towards each other.

I know the Black Eyed Peas have deteriorated into a gyrating techno babble mess lately but the lyrics of the song “Where is the love” really resonates with me

Selfishness got us following the wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting their young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what the see in the cinema
Whatever happened to the values of humanity
Whatever happened to the fairness and equality
Instead of spreading love, we’re spreading animosity 

The state of the world we are in today is the sum effect of individual families losing their cohesiveness. And the question on everyone’s lips should be – where is the love? Why are mothers dumping their babies when throughout history we have heard stories and testimonials of a mothers love for a child being the greatest love humanely possible?

Why are fathers who are supposed to be the caregivers and protectors instigating violence and inflicting abuse on their loved ones? Is this the reason why children have lost respect for their parents? Is this the reason why children rebel and maim their parents with physical aggression?

Nuclear families are called nuclear for a reason. There should be cohesion, love, trust and mutual respect. Whatever happened to humanity and equality? Why are we spreading animosity and deceit? Why are parents ingraining it into their children in the family environment so that these same children go out and disseminate it into the world?

So many questions… what is the answer? What is the solution to the depravity of the human condition? Love. Trust and Mutual Respect. It doesn’t matter how technologically savvy and equipped you are, it doesn’t matter how many iphones ipads and parenphelia makes you feel like you have a wholesome and successful life. If you cannot come home to a family that loves and respects you, where there is mutual trust and understanding, where children obey their parents and parents in turn love and guide their children, then this is the microcosm of the society they will breed. And that is a heartless society indeed.

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The first weekend of Ramadan is nearly over and I spent all of it at home with family much to my mother’s delight. As a time to gain closeness to Allah swt, ramadan highlights all the ways this closeness can be achieved during and after this blessed month. And one of the surefire ways is to keep your family and loved ones happy! You are the company you keep. A good apple, no matter how good, will rot in a case full of bad apples. It is the same with us, we need to chose our company carefully and surround ourselves with a loving and islamic minded family and loved ones who will guide and keep us on the right path inshallah.

‘Abdullah b. ‘Amr (Allah be pleased with both of them) reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said to me: I have been informed that you stand for prayer the whole of night and fast during the day. I said: I do that, whereupon he said: If you did that you in fact strained heavily your eyes and made yourself weak. There is a right of your eyes (upon you) and a right of your self (upon you) and a right of your family (upon you). Stand for prayer and sleep. observe fasts and break (them).  – Muslim Book 6, Number 2594

So this entry will be short, just trying to clean up before the work week starts again and stay on top of my quran khatom as well as spend time with the familia because as O says, the real reward is at home alot of the time. Keeping it real as per N’s advice!

Ramadan Dua: DAY 5 – ALLAH, on this day, place me among those who seek forgiveness. Place me among Your righteous and obedient servants, and place me among Your close friends, by Your kindness, O the most Merciful.

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