Friday, 29 January 2010



I guess as my first real post this should be a really interesting one but unfortunately this will not be the case. I'm pretty tired and have a cold.

Arrived in Dhaka at 10ish yesterday after an arduous journey via Heathrow and Dubai..and a two hour wait for baggage we were met by VSO staff and transferred by bus to the main office. Immediately a few things hit you when you go outside of the airport: firstly you meet your first few beggers and secondly you only meet a small number of them because the rest of them are all outside of railings and being held back by the police/army. They were not very intimidating but it does feel odd to arrive in a country and to be immediately cut off from its people.

The trip to the office was however a great introduction to life in Bangladesh with noise, people and CNGs(gas fueled rickshaws)everywhere; buses crammed to the roof, traffic jams allowing opportunities for roadside beggars to approach and even at this stage in late January a sleep inducing heat. All of these details however combine to make for an extremely mental but energetic atmosphere.

Following an introduction and lunch at the office we moved into our temporary accommodation. It's a flat for 6 volunteers (all of whom have arrived yesterday)and it will be our home for the next month of training and language classes. While there is no hot water and electricity is touch and go, it's otherwise well equipped, spacious and in a safe neighborhood.

Undertook my first adventure last night as myself and Kevin (Scottish volunteer)set off in search of the other volunteers' house...we had a rough map but after one wrong turn we were completely lost...rickshaws everywhere with no lights whatsoever, 20 different people giving random directions like 'It's over there' while pointing to the sky!!!. Eventually we made it back to the flat but while the locals were not exactly gifted with directions (not helped by our complete lack of Bengali), we never once felt the slightest bit of aggression...may have something to do with the complete unavailability of alcohol. (needless to say we may be able to overcome that particular issue in due course).

Anyway, being a Friday and a Muslim country, today is a day-off (as is tomorrow, though apparently we'll be working Sundays...oh lord!) so been recovering from the jet-lag and a sticky Irish cold.

Overall, things going really well and happy to be here. A very poor, noisy and polluted country but other than that, it seems quite cool.

Til next week when I'll add some photos.


Sunday, 10 January 2010


Hello and thanks for taking the time to visit my blog Bangladeshi times.

I'm moving to Bangladesh in late January 2010 to work with a bangladeshi Human Rights Organization. My placement is organised through and supported by Voluntary Services Overseas(VSO) who seek to fight global poverty by empowering people, governments, organizations and indigenous business through the sharing of skills offered by volunteers....more on VSO to come.

Over the next year, I'll be working as an Advocacy and Networking Advisor with Agrogoti Sangstha. This small non-governmental organisation work for the protection of human rights predominantly through the promotion of good governance in the South West region of Khulna. My role is to work with the organization and their constituents to improve their structures for influening policy makers, donors and any other stakeholder who can contribute to the realization of human rights. (don't worry, you'll find out what that actually means in good time :)

But while this blog certainly seeks to raise awareness about issues facing developing countries, it will also host stories, photos and videos which portray the lighter side of life for a Leitrim man in Bangladesh

So I'll start with a confession: I know very very little about Bangladesh but here goes:

I know it's surrounded by India, and is very close to Myanamar, Nepal and Bhutan. I know it holds a population of 155million in an area just twice the size of Ireland!!! I know that 90% of that population are of the islamic faith and the rest are a mix of Hindus, Buddhists and Christians.

Strangely Bangladesh has only 3%unemployment; unfortunately, however, 80% of the population earn less than two dollars a day! Many regions are hit by cyclones, monsoons and widespread flooding every year, and climate change is certainly not helping!Thus Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the World.

Yet despite this, speak with anyone who has ever visited Bangladesh and you will hear that despite their poverty the Bangladeshi people are the warmest and most hospitable you can meet, that thanks to the monsoon rains,it has some of the most beautiful and potentially fertile lands, and that it is home to a beautiful Tiger called the Royal Bengali!

So above all,I know that I am going to experience a life unlike anything I've experienced before and that while perhaps trying to avoid a face to face meeting with the big bad Tiger, I am going to enjoy myself thoroughly.

So please, check back regularly, keep me company and share your views!