Purpose of Narijibon Blog

Nari Jibon Project seeks to increase our students’ and staffs’ abilities through different ways: classes, practice, computers, internet, and now the Narijibon Blog. Readers and writers (our students & staff) of the Blog will both learn about our lives, culture, Nature, activities of people in Bangladesh and the Nari Jibon Project.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Resilient staff and students of Nari Jibon come to office-classes

Some good news from Bangladesh via Kathryn Ward USA:

The resilient staff and students of Nari Jibon project have come to the office today, Saturday, for work and classes despite no electricity or internet. The sun is out today and the weather is warmer.

I just finished nearly hour long phone call to the Nari Jibon Project office and talked with office staff, Coordinator Rafiq, Accounts Officer Lubana, and Teachers-Bloggers, Taslima and Bipa. Yesterday or Friday the day after Cyclone Sidr, no one had any electricity at their houses, except for maybe 30 minutes. No water-showers until today and they still do not have consistent water, but must go and purchase some.

Today, the office has had very little electricity (they cheered during the conversation when the electricity briefly came on) and they are doing some computer work via two big backup batteries. No internet connections. Some English II students had come for their Saturday class. English teacher and blogger Bipa assigned them to write their own golpo (story) about Cyclone Sidr for later posting on the English and Bangla blogs. All staff will write their own golpo.

Computer teacher Taslima and field officer Sujan (both bloggers) will go outside and talk with people and take pictures. Coordinator Rafiq was hopeful that they would have more electricity over the weekend and maybe even some internet by Monday. I told them that I had not forgotten about Bangladesh and Nari Jibon and had been posting on this and the Bideshi Blue blogs. I'm sending blog posts from the last few days to Bipa's mobile phone, which receives internet.

All staff told me that they had been very scared on Thursday night-Friday am as the cyclone roared-stormed through the city. Everything was very dark and the storm was very loud. Taslima and her family had been returning to Dhaka from the Sylhet mazar on Thursday night and could not get any transportation to their house. They had to walk in the rain-wind-storm. She and her family became sick from that cold wet walk. Project Coordinator Rafiq is from Barisal area, and in his village, he heard that several large trees fell near his house. Another large tree severely damaged the local mosque.

All staff told me that they had received little information before the cyclone except to know that evacuation was needed in the south. Their only information had come from one newspaper and my email post right before the cyclone with weather information links that I had sent to Nari Jibon office and to tell them to go to their homes. Even now they do not have much information about what is going on on the coast except some news programs on BTV. Many have had problems recharging their mobile batteries especially on Friday and with intermittent electricity.

If internet connections are not restored by Monday, (Sunday night USA time), I will take their stories over the phone and post them on the blog.

All asked that we pray for them (and Bangladesh).

Suvo ratri (good night!)

cyclone sidr & updates 17-18 nov on relief efforts--what can you do?

Abar from USA and Kathryn Ward and updated 17 nov 07 pm usa time (18 november dhaka dupur)

Assorted agencies are beginning to realise the magnitude of the disaster as the death toll has risen above 2, 000 persons (updated usa pm 17 nov) and many more injured, loss of dwellings, animals, crops, and possessions. Electricity or current continues to be out in Dhaka and other parts of Bangladesh owing to collapse of power grid and no potable water. According to a CNN source, return of electricity will take much time, even weeks, but power and 'normalcy' is beginning to be restored to Dhaka (and water pumps) along with mobile networks and long queues at CNG stations. Already Bangladesh had been experiencing much loadshedding (electricity outages) even before the storm. Bangladeshis are resilient, but still the cumulative challenges post cyclone are beshi (excess).

For updates, disaster maps, and information on relief efforts-agencies for donations, first read Rezwan's insightful post on "How can you help Bangladesh cyclone victims?" Also check back often to his post because he continues to update, such as this link to Drishtipat-Unheard Voices on how people outside of Bangladesh can help and mobilize.... and then you can also see some more sources on Bideshi Blue.

My thoughts continue to be with Bangladesh, flood-affected people, friends, and the near and dear ones of Nari Jibon Staff.

Friday, November 16, 2007

the day after cyclone sidr

more from Kathryn Ward in USA:

Some news BBC and NYT and blog reports are beginning to trickle in about the aftermath of Sidr, which flattened the Bangladeshi coast and moved on through Bangladesh before turning into a tropical storm. So far the death toll has been far lower than the previous big cyclone (600+ and rising) owing to early warnings, evacuations, etc., but given outages of the national power grid, blocked roads & debris, rescue workers are having a hard time reaching people. Dhaka experienced a Category 3 hurricane; friends reached via mobiles (cell phones) report that residents have had little or no power or water since the storm. Uncultured Project blogger Shawn has several posts of his experiences, including cheers when the electricity came on for an hour and the roar of generators in the streets. Signs of Bangladeshi resilience are everywhere.

Perhaps one sign of development/ICT: last night Nari Jibon English teacher and blogger Bipa contacted me on email via her cell phone browser because that was her only power supply for communication during the power outages. She's ok.

I hope that the USA and other international media and bloggers continue to cover this ongoing situation and post Sidr recovery. We will post more stories from Nari Jibon staff and students as we receive them, the Nari Jibon office reopens, we check our backup batteries for our computer, maybe power is restored and our broadband connections are working. Nonetheless, the essential thing that people need to use a computer: power! This seems to be in short supply in Bangladesh right now.

Cyclone Sidr makes landfall--beshi thanda bisti batash Dhaka

Dear Readers: I'm writing this from the USA and my dry comfortable home. Cyclone Sidr made landfall in Bangladesh last night. Already on Thursday midday and before landfall, the Nari Jibon Project staff had much hardship getting to the office through much cold rain & winds from approaching Cyclone Sidr--a very strong Category 4 maybe 5 hurricane. (translation of title--much cold rain wind in Dhaka). I sent sent the office staff-students home because the weather was only going to get worse in the next few days and also to keep their eyes and ears open for stories, events, and experiences for blog posts.

The USA media have given little or no prior coverage to Cyclone Sidr, probably the second largest cyclone to hit Bangladesh since the Bhola Cyclone in 1970, but now CNN and New York Times are covering the story. In the linked blog posts, you can read & see more about the approach of Sidr, accounts of landfall and conditions in Dhaka via the hurried words of Nari Jibon blogger Rafiq Islam .

Please keep in your thoughts and prayers the affected people in Bangladesh and India and be generous in helping the affected people.

Dr. Kathryn Ward

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I am from a Middle Class Family

By Sherin Sultana

‘My life is in middle class
Middle class is in my mind,
And for that I can never be exceptional’

I was born in a middle class family. I never calculate what I got in my life and what I didn’t. If there is two taka in my hand then one taka I spend for myself and the other one I save for the next. I always travel by bus, not by rickshaw. In this way so many times I try to save money to buy a good dress or anything else. But the other needs of my life can’t be fulfilled by this way.

I never find my mother to loose her courage in any situation. I find her loves in her tension and being concern for us on her face. Our wants are very little, so we become satisfied by fulfilling the little needs. What we gain in our lives is only by our own effort. And we really feel proud for that.

We don’t have abundance of money. If our watches become useless, we change only the belt or battery and change those again and again. But we never change the dial or buy a new one. If our shoes get useless we try once again to add another sole. We can’t expect more than enough to our necessity. Our self respect is very high so we can’t want something to anybody. If we don’t have anything then we try to get those by our own ability. Our life is measured and tied by the circle of middle class. We are to calculate till the last day of our lives. If we want to go out from this the calculation will be disordered.

The relation between our families and relatives are very hard and so our thinking and decisions are not solitary. We are to take combine decisions. We can’t express all the feelings with our family for the social rules. If we love somebody we can’t express that to our favorite person.

The life of a middle class doesn’t make me sorrow. To me, the life is valueless for the lower class people and the reality doesn’t touch the upper class’s people. Maybe I am wrong. But the real taste of life can be enjoyed only in the middle class. It’s the life that has sorrows, pains, love, affection and unlimited respect.