Saturday, July 28, 2012

From sticks to canes…

Good day everyone,

I know it has been a while since my last post, but I know my partner Jennifer has been doing a great job keeping everyone updated on our progress. Today I would like to give a progress report about our trip to Bangladesh. But before I get into the actual event, I want to share some knowledge on the country’s background in terms of its elderly population:

  • People are living longer; the average life expectancy at birth in Bangladesh has increased to over 60 years.
  • Most of the elderly people of Bangladesh aren’t in a good socio-economic condition due to various problems such as poverty, wage discrimination, want of essential goods and commodities, shelter and compulsory retirement from job when age limit is attained.
  • A small proportion (around 6%) of the total population of Bangladesh constitutes the elderly population, but the absolute number of them is quite significant (about 7.2 million).
  • About 90% of the urban elderly males live alone and are married, whereas 89 percent of the rural elderly women living alone are widowed.

The Camelia Institute made a big difference on the lives of 20 disabled and impoverished elderly citizens. Thanks to my uncle: Jahangir Kabir Khan, we were able to partner up with local community leaders at the rural village of Noakhali, Bangladesh, which is where our event took place. We ensured that the community leaders and volunteers were fit and dependable and shared our vision. This area is primarily known for its agricultural activities and fish farming, and has a huge elderly population that is desperately in need of assistance. These people could not afford walking canes, and had to rely on unstable bamboo sticks to help them move around. Most of the elderly here are often unable to meet the demand due to extreme poverty, and rely on their families to provide them food and shelter.

We communicated with the local community leaders and provided them with a qualification criterion that would help determine who would receive assistance from the Camelia Institute. Afterwards, the local community leaders and volunteers conducted a needs assessment survey in which they went around the village to select the recipients. We selected a location that was convenient for everyone and distributed small goodie bags that was comprised of various items ranging from knee braces to sugar free chocolates. We also distributed clothing and walking canes. Unfortunately, some of these elderly citizens were so disabled that they weren’t even able to attend the event to receive their canes, and had sent a family member to pick it up on their behalf.

You could literally feel the happiness seeping out of the recipients. I never thought something so small as a small goodie bag could make such a big difference. Everyone was extremely thankful and I think they were just happy that someone was thinking about them, since they are so often the forgotten. I want to thank everyone who participated in making our trip to Bangladesh successful and feel extremely blessed to have made a difference.


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