PHOTOS OF BANGLADESH
Dhaka City is the red dot just above center, Chittagong along the coast on the right
A fishpond towards evening in the countryside southeast of Dhaka. I spent an evening here with the owner of this land and a group of young, idealistic, and educated young men who want to make a difference to the future of their country.
The pond as the sun sets in the West.
A local woman does laundry in the pond.
My friend Mujibur Rahman on the left and the young men who are hosting his outing in the countryside. One of them is owner of this pond.
I climb a tree to get a more scenic view of the area.
This woman, mother of six children, lives on the land by the fish pond (above) and works for the owner. On this tiny fireplace she cooked a fine dinner for all 17 of us. It took her about four hours of hard work, most of it squatting by the fire as seen here.
The fishermen from a poor fishing village near Chittagong wade out to their boat when it comes back with its catch. The catches, they told us, are very slim compared to 15 years ago when there were plenty of fish. They rapidly walk with the fish in bamboo baskets resting on their shoulders the several kilometers to their village in order to try to sell it while it is still fresh.
In the same place where the poor fishermen were unloading their meager catch, the landscape was surreal, like a scene from some alien landscape. Giant earth moving machines were tearing at the tidal flats, creating vast holes and mountains of discarded mud. A commercial shrimp farm was being constructed.
These shrimp farms create food for export (not the local population) and destroy the mangrove coastal barriers that help prevent typhoon and storm damage and flooding on the land. These farms are being created all along the coasts of south India and Bangladesh. As usual, short term profits far outweigh the welfare of the local populations or future generations.
My friends Sarwar Kamal and Mujibur Rahman (photo below), both social workers and educators for the common good of the people of Bangladesh, arranged for me to learn about the problems of Bangladesh as well as to give talks on behalf of the Earth Federation. Here is the welcome sign for my talk to a rural college group of faculty and local citizen leaders in south Bangladesh.
Mujibur Rahman (Director of World University, Dhaka branch) and Sarwar Kamal (Director of an environmental and development NGO in the Chittagong area) stand in the farm of the agricultural institute whose guest house I stayed in while visiting south Bangladesh.
This is a common sight in Bangladesh and India. Women, some men, and children using hammers to break up used bricks to be used as part of the cement in construction sites. My hosts told me that the people working here earn the equivalent of about one U.S. dollar per day.
All over the third world people through waste plastic bags and other plastic trash into the streets or drainage waterways, since these countries cannot afford to hide the immense wastes of our throw away civilization as is done in wealthy countries. As a result these drainage streams become clogged and blocked by great concentrations of toxic, plastic, and human sewage. These men are trying to unclog one such drainage stream in a village near Chittagong.
A typical mode of transport in Dhaka City
About six in the morning in downtown Dhaka city. These are some of the thousands of families that live on the streets packing up their entire earthly possessions into these plastic bags to begin again trying to earn a few Taka to survive another day.
A Semi-Permanent Slum in Dhaka City
My guide, a wonderful man who worked in many different slums of Dhaka, explained that there are three kinds of slums: permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary. Here we walk on one of the many narrow streets of a semi-permanent slum built on telephone company property. Tens of thousands of people live crowd into this relatively small area.
Most homes are one room. This young woman may live in the house on the left in front of her. Everywhere the dirt, mud, and trash create unsanitary conditions in addition to the shortage of clean water and proper sewage disposal. Note the paper thin bamboo walls of the house behind. These walls stop neither sounds nor smells.
This woman shows us the “front yard” shared by several families in the surrounding homes. Laundry, cooking, and washing are all done here.
Everywhere waste water runs through the streets since there are no proper sewers. Children play in these same narrow dirt and mud streets risking disease and early death.
One of the open sewers of the slum in which waste water and rain water are channeled into the nearest river. Trash and garbage fill this nearly dry sewer lined on both sides by dozens of homes.
A Railroad Slum in Dhaka City
Many places in the third world millions of people have settled along railroad tracks on railroad or government property. In my guide’s terminology, this qualified as a “temporary slum.” Thousand of people crowded into shanties along the tracks.
Another view of the stifling hot packed shanties with the buildings of downtown Dhaka in the background. I have visited railroad slums very much like this one in Kolkata, Chittagong, and Mumbai.
Here we look from the railroad tracks off to one side. Slum dwellers had expanded the slum into the air by putting their homes on top of bamboo poles.
A close-up of the walkway to the bamboo houses on bamboo poles. Children and adults walk in or out twenty feet above the ground and water below. The corrugated metal boxlike structure in the center of the photo appears to be an outhouse. The excrement drops into the water below.
Meanwhile on the bank leading up from the water to the railroad, are the “hanging latrines” for the entire slum of thousands of people. Excrement drops onto the steep bank and makes its way to the waterway which leads to the river that runs through Dhaka.
Visit to Rural Village
We drove to the countryside and our guide, the local social worker, and leader of the local Communist Party, reserved this boat for us to go out to one of the many rural island villages in Bangladesh.
On the way to the village we passed the fishing boats of villagers who scrape out a living for themselves and their families with this occupation.
In the village, a visit from someone from another country is perhaps unknown before this. The kids especially were very interested.
In the dirt floor huts of the villagers there was no furniture. Everything is done on the floor.
Hanging latrines for villagers. The excrement goes down the side of the slope into the waters.
This is the same water where people bathe and do their laundry, as well as, not far away, fish for food.
Bangladesh Rural Village by Boat
Looking down from a hotel hallway window in downtown Dhaka, one sees
the huge home and walled garden of a government minister,
and, along his wall, the blue plastic tents of families who live on the street.
At this meeting I have just distributed WCPA brochures.
We pose for a photo in front of the restaurant.
A photo with some Philosophy Department faculty in the courtyard of one University building.
My hosts took me and Mahbubul (right) to lunch in the university cafeteria.
The family of WCPA Youth Coordinator, Mahbulbul Islam.
Downtown Dhaka, the building at the center is a garment faculty,
employing women and young girls, who make the equivalent of one US dollar per day.
Taken from the bus as we travel through the countryside on the way to Tangail.
More of this stunning and typical countryside.
In Tangail, meeting with teachers regarding our work.
Kids playing with some bicycle rickshaws stop to interact
with a Westerner walking in their town.
An elderly gentleman in Tangail sitting by the side of the walkway.
The central mosque of Tangail.
The daughter of my host.
A local sawmill. Notice the two boys are sawing the huge block with a
two man cross-cut saw. This is similar to the saw my father and grandfather
used to use to fell trees in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State.
There were no multinational corporations that I saw in Tangail.
Only some streets that served as markets for many small vendors, as here.
How refreshing to experience a community of people, rather than an alienated society of multinational corporations making corporate profits off of their “consumers.”
First four photos: Glen T. Martin (President, WCPA) and A. H. M. Nouman (Founder and Secretary General of DORP), both GUSI Peace Prize International winners, meet to discuss the working together of DORP (for rural poverty alleviation in Bangladesh) and the WCPA Chapter in Bangladesh.
Mr. Nouman sits between myself and Mahbubul Islam
As always in Dhaka, bicycle rickshaws are everywhere
Mornings I jogged around this lake within Dhaka city.
Some enterprising people have a ferry service across the lake.
With WCPA activists in a Dhaka Restaurant.
We spoke with these advocates (lawyers) about the Earth Constitution. To the right of me is Manzoor Hasan, OBE, Barrister at Law, who was outspoken in our meeting about the sameness of persons everywhere and the need for global socialism and the Earth Constitution.
WCPA activists meet at the home of the late Dr. Mujibur Rahman. His widow, Bulbul, stands in front of me in the green dress.
Near the nice home of Dr. Quassem, who generously hosted me, was this girl selling food each day on the street corner. She posed for me and I gave her 10 taka in return.
People just emerging from their home (under the tarps) in the morning.