Day 5 was unfortunately, our last day in the community of Sylhet. We spent the morning visiting the local community tea garden, followed by a visit to one of the projects in a rural village run by the local active citizens.
If any of my previous posts have been showing the negative sides to Bangladesh, then hopefully this one shows the very positive things that young people here are doing. Like with anything in life, it is not all bad and I do not wish to promote only one side of this beautiful place. The majority of the population here is young people – some 40-60% it is estimated and many of them are the definition of ‘active citizens’ – incredibly engaged and truly inspiring.
They are running the Hunger Project in Sylhet which provides free primary school education to children from the rural area, and the whole thing is run by a great team of volunteers who are all 16,17 years old. On arriving we were given a really warm welcome – they had set everything out and were waiting for us, greeting us with flowers and big smiles. It was a really nice gesture the hospitality they received us with treating us as more than guests and almost as celebrities.
We took the opportunity to mingle and talk to the kids as much as we could, asking what they wanted to be when they were older (one even asked me if I could give him a scholarship to study in England as he wants to be a pilot), we played some games with them and they showed us some of their favourite games too. It was a really great great thing to see and made me think about how we may think of them in terms of poverty – but they are extremely happy and theirs lives are still good. Something we can’t measure and is often overlooked.
After returning to Dhaka, I really missed Sylhet. It was great meeting all the volunteers and I liked the place a lot. We really got connected with the community and volunteers there quite quickly, they were incredible in their hospitality and I hope we are able to do the same for them when they come to the U.K in December and January.
Some key qualities I have seen over and over here – and in Botswana too – very quiet and humble hard work. No need to show off or flash it, just a very down to earth approach. That sincerity has definitely won me over completely in the young people I’ve met here, it’s inspired me. And all done with a very genuine and heart warming smile too. Something you just can’t fake. I hope that I can emulate that in my own life too.