Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trip Report #4 Backroads Tour

We were blessed enough on our trip to take little "excursions". We visited a pharmecuetical plant owned by the richest man/family in Bangladesh- and they are Christians! The Chowdry family is on the Warren Buffet scale of influence and wealth in Bangladesh. To have such powerful, wonderful christian business men in such a dark country is a huge blessing. The plant was very interesting to see. But by no means the most fun thing we did on our trip- I was ready to go back and play with the kids!

The Children's home is just one facet to the entire ministry of HELP Bangladesh. They also have a medical clinic for the children and villagers to use. A doctor's visit costs about $1- but that is an entire day's wage. Just outside the walls is a sewing center and store called the Dorcas shop. They train older children in the home and people in the community to sew and tailor. You can get a custom made, custom fit shalwar kamiz for about $10. In silk! This service provides a way for children in the home who won't go onto college or higher learning to have a skill to support themselves in the future. They do something similar on campus with a MechTech center where they teach boys wood carving and metal shop and small engine repair skills.

Yet another facet to this organization is the micro credit program. For those who are unfamiliar with micro credit what it basically does is give people (usually women) a small, interest free, short term loan that they can use to supplement or start a business to make a living. A typical example would be that a wife/mother is needing to provide income for her family. She applies for a $50 loan with a business plan. It may be to purchase chicken, goats, stock for a store, or craft materials. She then must pay back this loan within 1-3 years before she can apply for another loan to further invest in her business. This program is highly successful in many 3rd world countries. It shows what can be done if just a little is invested. It is also highly structured and accountable. Women in this particular program join an accountability group before they receive their loan. They help encourage each other, hold each other accountable, etc. We were able to visit a meeting of these women. They were so joyful compared to others I had encountered. They had purpose! They were doing something meaningful and helpful with their lives and helping to contribute to the livelihood of their husbands and children. We then toured some of their businesses like a dairy farm of a couple cows, rice husking, little convinience store, goat farm, a pig, a few thousand chickens and the biggest cow I have ever seen. One of the things I enjoyed most about this excursion was seeing how real bengali's live. The children's home is such an oasis- its not reality. This tour is reality- albeit a good one when you look at the grand scheme of things. I pray that many of the girls from the children's home will take advantage of this project and become successful leaders in it.

No comments: