Monday, December 8, 2008

Trip Report #1

#1 because I'm not sure how many typing sessions this could take :)

Our trip began on November 18th from Grand Rapids Airport. Paul and I along with his parents, and his Aunt Beth and her two sisters departed for our long 24+ hour journey East.

We connected in Chicago and London and then finally arriving in Dhaka at 2:00 am on November 20th Dhaka time. Dhaka was 11 hours ahead. All of our connections went smoothly and we received all of our luggage which was a huge miracle!!! The only problems with the flights were the children. I have a lot of sympathy and patience for traveling moms and their babies since I've been there as well- but there was times I thought I was going to lose it!

On Chicago-London flight which was almost 8 hours I think We sat next to a mom and her two kids- a 1.5 year old girl and 4 year old boy. She didn't bring any snacks for the boy or any toys! He didn't like watching cartoons. It was a long 8 hours for that kid, and me! I was able to entertain him with connect four on our ipod. He liked seeing the balls drop fast. I was glad I was able to help her out- but I wasn't able to get any rest that flight!

On our London-Dhaka flight, there were many many children who all took their turns chiming in their complaints. It wasn't terrible, but made it hard to rest. The best part about that flight was the flight attendant we had by us. We flew british air- so most were from the UK and had that lovely accent. Apparently, this flight is one they fight over NOT HAVING. The Bengali's are not known to being very curteous, understanding, or clean people. They trash a plane, do not obey flight commands, and just make life very difficult for everyone. One lady in particular was an older woman who was dressed in a bright teal sari that had very sparkly silver sequins everywhere. She had brought on like 4 or 5 carry ons and so that had stored a couple up front where there was more room. Well every so often she would get up and go to her bags and come back- despite numerous warnings of seatbelt signs, dinner being served, no room in aisle ways and so on. She was causing a lot of irritation. Well, our flight attendant who was at his wits end with the entire flight leaned over to me and stated, "Well she's dressed up like a bloody Christmas Tree!" Seriously almost peed my pants from laughing so hard. And you know what? Its true! She did look like one of those guady christmas trees you see in the store! It looked something like this- just a lot more sequins and more sparkly! They are pretty though!

Enough of the traveling.

We arrived in Dhaka in the middle of the night, so we spent a few hours in David's (the founder and runner of the children's home) apartment downtown Dhaka. We left about 6:30 am for the children's home in Savar, about an hour drive away. What a drive it was! Words will never be able to fully describe traffic in Dhaka, or anywhere in Bangladesh for that matter. First you have multiple speeds of transportation all trying to share the same narrow strip of "road". Walking/Standing pedestrians, rickshaws, cars, huge busses, and army/construction type vehicles. Road lines are non existent or just "suggestions". Roads are narrow- sometimes the width of like a bicycle path, and three or four lanes of traffic would all try to get through. Then you have the honking. Horns are used all the time as a way of communicating their positions. When they pass or just to let busses know they are there, they will honk. If someone gets in an accident and they did not honk, they are at fault- so always error on the side of extra honking. Also, if you cause an accident or the crowd watching thinks you did, you can be taken out of your car and beaten. Yikes! It is a free for all dance of "right of space". Never before have I seen my life flash before me so many times in a day!

We arrived at the children's home tired,weary, but excited for the memories to be made. All 366 children lined the drive and walkways for our arrival as we walked into the compound. It was an emotional experience to see all of these young happy faces so happy to see us. It was humbling. I was able to find our sponsor son Robin out the crowd. I think I scared him to death as I ran to him and gave him a big hug and was crying. He probably thought- or still thinks- I'm a nut job! We were also happy to find that there were three people visiting from Australia. Diane, Brian, and Helen would soon become kindred spirits. It was as if we had known them all of our lives. I will treasure our time with these lovely people as we shared this experience together.

Our days at the children's home were varied. We didn't Do anything. We didn't build a building or teach a class all 5 days. We just embraced the children. We played in the play yard. I learned to dance some Bengali dances and speak some Bangla. We played basketball and frisbee. I taught them ring around the rosey, and they practiced their English. They just loved and fed off of the individual attention. We served the girls dinner one night (we ate separately for our safety of our stomachs- our food was cooked separately and such). I taught a chapel service. I taught a couple songs in English. I read books to the "slow learners" class, and yes it is called that, labeled that much to my dismay.

Typical days at the children's home:
6:30 am- devotions in each dorm, their praises drowned out the Muslim call to prayer
7:30 am- assembly (stretching) and breakfast
9:00- school
6:00 pm- Night chapel
7:00 pm- dinner
8:00- homework

Our days were more varied because of the wedding event that took place between two former children of the children's home and because they were starting final exams. (Their school year is Jan-Nov, and exams are end of November to get them in before the Mulsim festival of Eid.).

I'm pooped. I'll try to write more later. To be continued.....

1 comment:

Nikki said...

WOW - I'm laughing still about your flight attendant, too! Can picture the scene thanks to his comment! I can't wait to hear more... so glad you are home safely and had what sounds like a very blessed time. Let's get together soon!!! Nikki