Khalia Village, January 2002

A playing field stretches out in front of the school, a cracked and arid carpet sprouting stiff and prickly grass at variance with the lush palm trees framing it and the tarred road opposite. During the rainy season, Munnu says, this field is deluged by floodwaters leaving patches of subsidence that make playing games erratic.
“So we wait now for our tools,” he finishes, leading us to the school steps and motioning us to sit.
“Digging,” mumbles Christine. She speaks up. “Suez said we would be digging.”
A delicate silence ensues whilst the brothers look at oneanother, clearly hoping the other will speak first..
“Well?” demands Christine. “Is Suez right?”
Bachchu and Munnu both nod slowly.
“What kind of digging?” I pray for a little light weeding.
“We make flat the Khalia school playing field,” Munnu states with endearing honesty.
“We...are going to level the field?” asks Christine slowly, examining the lines and dips that form a parody of a mountainous rural map.
“Yes. We make it smooth enough for the Bangladesh cricket team,” beams Bachchu. “It takes maybe five days.”
Vague thoughts of shiny JCBs, turf rolling machines, and fluorescent-striped donkey jackets dart through my mind.
“Bloody hell,” says Christine. “We’ll be rolling rocks like The Flintstones.”
(ABBW Ch4)

150km away from the capital (a six hour trip via road and river) Rajoir District branch of the charity SCI hosted our first volunteer 'Work Camp'and was a free-fall experience into the delights and the traumas of rural Bangladesh: lack of water, electricity and privacy had to be off-set against the peace, the green fields and the friendships-in-waiting.

Working boots off, we ate rice, drank tea, hit the arsenic problem head on, ate rice, drank tea, shopped for Private Ladies Things, ate rice, drank tea and one afternoon we even did something that no nice Bengali girl would ever do. Then we had some rice and drank some tea...

Preparing Dinner

Khalia Tea Shop

All mod-cons are overrated!  This scrubbed up well and so did we.

Khalia Village, January 2002
Jennifer Who?


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