Donations To The Poor

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wpid-PastedGraphic-2014-11-22-13-17.pngMany of us who live in Bangladesh see the sweet faces pressed up against our car windows asking us to buy their stickers or just to give them money. We are sad to see the suffering of the children, the mother’s carrying drugged sleeping infants and children meandering car to car seeking financial assistance. The elderly, handicapped and maimed all come one by one. The question is if passing notes to them is the best way to help them. I personally believe it isn’t, it just enables this system – a network of beggars to continue to exist.

If you really want to help the unfortunate, find an organization or group to give your money to that you trust to make sure the money reaches the people you really want to help.

I am a member of Dhaka American Women’s Club (DAWC), every year we hold fundraisers (two large renown ones are the Christmas Bazaar and the Hollywood Ball) that help us to give to needy organizations who apply for assistance. Our process includes a visit to the organization, so that we are satisfied the money is going to the right place. The DAWC focuses on organizations assisting women and children in Bangladesh. Membership is open to U.S and Canadian passport holders and their spouses. We also reach out to the local community to help us pay for the costs of arrangements and decor through sponsorship of our events. Sponsorship is a great way to help us give the maximum to those in need.

Another organization I am a part of is Dhaka Expat Club (DEC). Dhaka Expat Club focuses on Street Children’s schools and organization. We hold small events to raise funds for activities that we host for Street Kids. This year we have organized a small trip to Shilpakala Academy and a larger trip to Nandan Water Park. Membership is open to all foreign passport holders.

There also many other organizations in Dhaka doing wonderful work, Blankadesh is one. This time of year the weather is cooling, so buy a fleece blanket and Blankadesh will donate another to someone in need.

Another great non profit to give to is Streetwise. Streetwise works to assist & educate Street Kids. There is also the British Women’s Association (BWA) and the Women’s Volunteer Association (WVA)  in addition to what I am sure are many others.

We all want to help those in need, but let’s not continue to enable a system of thug bosses who keep most of the money while the needy kids, women, elderly, handicapped, and maimed work all day for a small percentage of what they are given. Just my two cents today. If you know of good organization supporting other groups besides women and children, let me know and I’ll add them to my list.

It All Began With “A”

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Android is beginning to release Android 5.0 called Lollipop. Every Android version is named after a sweet — a desert or candy. So, this morning I was wondering, why? Well, Google won’t say is what CNN was told when Honeycomb was released in 2011. It’s an internal secret (shhhh).  So, now we wait in anticipation as to what letter “M” may bring as they all are alphabetical and they won’t say what A or B were called. The earliest publically announced was Cupcake. Suggestions for the letter M and remember it must be a desert or candy. Marshmallow, anyone? 

Blackout – the good, the bad and the ugly

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In Bangladesh, news is everywhere. Though it is usually unclear in the details. What I mean by that is it is rare we really know the whole story or even if the story is fact or fiction. The stories we read are often slanted to present political views, favoritism or to cover up the sins of near and dear ones who have made gross errors in judgement. Money is also a key factor.

Live news has been coming to the foray in recent times, but not always in print media.  There is a ticker on most of the news media’s website, but I don’t know why it really isn’t updated as much as it could be. This became painfully apparent during the blackout we experienced over a week ago. I am thankful that reality TV hasn’t yet hit Bangladesh in its worst forms.

As for me, I spent what little electricity we had keeping my phone charged and checking for updates as to when the power would be back. Call the local Dhaka Electric Suppy Association (DESA) was pointless as the line was continually busy.

After looking at The Daily Star and BDNews24 mostly, I found that the Dhaka Tribune kept the most updated coverage. Way to go Dhaka Tribune! Keep up the good work! Just needed to give a shoutout to them as I think they are awesome.

History and Hartels vs Education

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I don’t pretend to be an expert in Bangladesh history, but the birth of any nation never comes easily. There will always be two sides to statehood, those who want it and those who don’t. The difference lies in the actions of those who don’t. In general, I don’t support capital punishment, not saying that everyone can be reformed or deserves that option. Usually, I stay out of Politics all-together.

I imagine when there is a hartel/shut-down/strike after a long period the kids take just like a snow day in the northeast of the USA. It’s an unexpected break from school. However, when you have day after day hartels happening regularly it is a whole other situation. As an educator and a parent I feel outraged that these shutdowns are allowed to continue. I do understand protest, but where and when will the government and law enforcement draw the line.

Schools have now adopted different policies to ensure the students complete the school year with the adequate number of school days, but there are still interruptions depending on the severity of the hartel.

Of course, more important is the effect on the the economy of the country and the impact on the livelihood of businesses.

Zoho Apps for Business

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PastedGraphic-2014-09-20-13-12.pngRecently, when I was looking for a email host (personally I have always found hosting email on your domain host rife with issues), I found that Google now charges for hosting email. Shame, shame #Google. It seems to be the way, first #Microsoft and now #Google. The only good thing about this is if you already have your email hosted with them for free, they will not charge you. However, they will charge for new signups. :(

PastedGraphic1-2014-09-20-13-12.pngIt is becoming increasingly difficult to find options for free email hosting, but one really good one that I have turned to is #Zoho. It is similar to #Google, but you get folders instead of labels and they have active sync for devices like #Microsoft exchange. There are many great things about Zoho, but I mainly came to it for the mail hosting. #TechRepublic has written a nice blog post on some of the great apps for businesses fro #Zoho that is worth a read if you are looking for more than just email hosting.

Gaza: 72 Hour Truce, Is There an End?

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There is no one in the world today that hasn’t heard or seen the story of the Israel attack on #Gaza uhfolding. The world seems to have gone crazy and watched nearly silently as hundreds of Palestinian children were killed. The Muslim world has been the loudest voice, but the people dying are of all faiths. The problem seems to be between the truth and what Israel and it’s supporters want us all to believe. 

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Social networks are on fire, but it is really hard to tell if we are making a dent in opinions of world leaders who are in a position to impose sanctions (and this what really needs to happen) against Israel. I really don’t understand why no country has done this yet. The U.S. imposed sanction against Russia recently for much less than this, but with what seems to be a genocide campaign raging all we here is that Israel an ally of the U.S. from President Barack Obama and that Congress made sure that $225 billion funding bill for Israel’s defense misiles was approved before they want on vacation. AID to a country that is bombing SCHOOLS and killing CHILDREN! 

Israel LiesIs it that too many people are believing in Israel’s propaganda or are they just remaining quiet out of fear of the repercussions? Understand that if you are silent it means you see no problem with what Israel is doing. For me, it’s difficult to watch all the images of children becoming orphans and parents becomes childless and not FEEL SOMETHING. A friend recently put this up as her status, “I’ll admit I have stopped and thought about how my criticism of the Israeli genocide would affect me professionally. I’m reading a ton of articles about how people lost jobs or were ostracized for stating their views. But I cannot stay silent. And if things fall through because of it, so be it. I’d rather children stop being killed than my getting ahead. I could not live with it. I’ll manage. So don’t be afraid, please. Speak out. If you remain silent, you are complicit.” I agree, so I am speaking out. Let the killing stop and let it be soon. #SupportGaza #Humanists4Gaza #GazaUnderAttack

Gaza: 72 Hour Truce, Is There an End?

Posted on Updated on

There is no one in the world today that hasn’t heard or seen the story of the Israel attack on #Gaza uhfolding. The world seems to have gone crazy and watched nearly silently as hundreds of Palestinian children were killed. The Muslim world has been the loudest voice, but the people dying are of all faiths. The problem seems to be between the truth and what Israel and it’s supporters want us all to believe. 

10427285 10154430840730099 7422392973177991864 n

Social networks are on fire, but it is really hard to tell if we are making a dent in opinions of world leaders who are in a position to impose sanctions (and this what really needs to happen) against Israel. I really don’t understand why no country has done this yet. The U.S. imposed sanction against Russia recently for much less than this, but with what seems to be a genocide campaign raging all we here is that Israel an ally of the U.S. from President Barack Obama and that Congress made sure that $225 billion funding bill for Israel’s defense misiles was approved before they want on vacation. AID to a country that is bombing SCHOOLS and killing CHILDREN! 

Israel LiesIs it that too many people are believing in Israel’s propaganda or are they just remaining quiet out of fear of the repercussions? Understand that if you are silent it means you see no problem with what Israel is doing. For me, it’s difficult to watch all the images of children becoming orphans and parents becomes childless and not FEEL SOMETHING. A friend recently put this up as her status, “I’ll admit I have stopped and thought about how my criticism of the Israeli genocide would affect me professionally. I’m reading a ton of articles about how people lost jobs or were ostracized for stating their views. But I cannot stay silent. And if things fall through because of it, so be it. I’d rather children stop being killed than my getting ahead. I could not live with it. I’ll manage. So don’t be afraid, please. Speak out. If you remain silent, you are complicit.” I agree, so I am speaking out. Let the killing stop and let it be soon. #SupportGaza #Humanists4Gaza #GazaUnderAttack

What’s the Point: Ramadan Fasting

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It’s been many years now that I reverted to Islam. Muslims believe that all people are born with a natural faith in God and according to Islam, children are born with an innate sense of God, which is called the fitrah. Therefore, conversion to Islam as a “return” back to this original, pure faith. For this reason, many Muslims prefer to say that they have “reverted,” rather than converted to Islam. A common definition of the word “revert” is to “return to a former condition or belief.” Since I reverted I have fasted every year trying my best to follow all the customs, practices and rules of Islam and Ramadan. My people only think that Ramadan means you don’t eat. As I tell my children, that is not the case. In fact, there is a lot more to Ramadan than not eating. It is a time we pray 5 times everyday (if you don’t already), read the Quran and overall become closer to Allah. 

Fasting begins before sunrise and Muslims across the world wake in the wee hours of the night to eat their last meal before sunrise and then pray the Fajr prayer. Often, following Fajr they will read the Quran because it is believe the angels are listening especially at the time and therefore there extra blessing if you read at the time. Following the we return back to our beds for some time. 

The rest of the day we go about our day as usual taking care to offer prayers at Dhur (just after midday) and Asr (afternoon). At the timing of Maghrib (evening prayer) we break our fast with dates (as this is what the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) did) and water or juice. In some families this meal (Iftar) is elaborate with many dishes, but I prefer it to be a simple table. We are not supposed to over eat during Ramadan anyway. Following the meal, we pray the Maghrib prayer. Some families have dinner after this, but our family prefers Iftar to be the evening meal as well. 

After Isha prayer (night prayer) there are special prayers called Taraweeh that are held either at home or at the local mosque.  These are not obligatory prayers, so not everyone does them. This is mainly because they take a long time and many have early office hours. 

Ramadan is the month that the Quran was received by our Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) and is the month we seek forgiveness for our sins, the sins of our near ones and pray for those who are no longer in this world. Muslims celebrate the arrival of Ramadan for many reasons. One is the extra time we get to spend with our family, but a big part of it is the opportunity to seek forgiveness. Ramadan is basically the month of forgiveness and all Muslims celebrate this month and the opportunities to commune with Allah for a clean slate. 
I know a few people who are married to people of the book (Christians) who sometimes fast along with the rest of the family. In some ways to be a part, to make the family members happy and in other ways to experience what the disadvantaged go through everyday. While it’s great for them to feel included in the celebration of the month, they are not really experiencing all the reasons Ramadan is such a great part of Islam and being a Muslim. 
The end of Ramadan culminates in the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr. This is traditionally a 3 day long holiday, though depending on where you live it may only be a day for you.  Eid Mubarak.

Rewriting History?

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March 26, 1971 is the date that Bangladesh won its independence from then West Pakistan. So, many things had happened since 1948 when the two nations were erroneously separated from India into East Pakistan and West Pakistan, but in 1971 the one thing that was certain in then East Pakistan was that Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was its leader. Imagine the surprise and shock of the vast majority when the top two BNP leaders announced in public forums that rather Ziaur Rahman was the first President of Bangladesh and the first to proclaim Bangladesh’s independence.
While I may be a foreigner in this country, like most foreigners I have read several books on Bangladesh history and viewed countless websites. Nowhere is there any inference that Ziaur Rahman had claimed to be the leader or President in 1971, so it is strange that so many years later his wife and son have taken the liberty to claim it now. For those who missed the speeches:
Tarique Rahman on March 25th, 2014 in London:

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on March 26, 2014 in Bangladesh:

The citizens of the country have been thrown into mass confusion due this new misguidence being thrown at them and naturally this has upset the ruling party as well. In fact a few newspapers have carried the news that Tarique Rahman may be sued over his statements as they go against the constitution according to the ruling party spokesman: He said the country’s independence was the fruit of a continuous movement, rather than a stray incident. “In the general elections of 1970, the AL, under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, won a massive majority. Bangabandhu called for the independence of Bangladesh on March 7, 1971,” he added.
Hanif said Bangabandhu had declared the independence of Bangladesh through the then EPR’s wireless and asked the people to create resistance against the occupation force of the Pakistan army. “Zia did not proclaim the independence,” he asserted.

He said MA Hannan, a local AL leader, and Abul Kashem Sandeep, vice-president of Fatiksori College, had declared the country’s independence on behalf of Bangabandhu on March 26. “On March 27, Maj. Ziaur Rahman announced the declaration of independence on behalf of Bangabandhu,” he added.

It is sad that these statements created a blight on an otherwise traditionally happy day in Bangladesh. 

Beware of the Elephants

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20140211_125017[1]Recently, I was walking and saw two elephants coming toward me. I stopped in my tracks not sure whether to go ahead or back, and then decided to take a few pictures. After all, it’s not everyday an elephant is so close. Well, as clicked away, one of the riders spotted me. I guess a white woman taking photos sort of stands out in Dhaka. 

Before I knew it there was an elephant standing in directly in front of me. I really didn’t realize he was there until he was in my camera view. Then I looked up and froze for a minute. This was surprising or so I thought for about a minute. The minute ended when the rider asked me for money. Of course, panhandling is common in Bangladesh though not usually from the back of an elephant. After this happened with me, I over heard my office staff discussing the same thing happening to them. Really saddened that animals are misused this way. I thought it was so cool, but these people ruined it for me.

20140211_125025[2]Finally, I saw a horrible thing when in my car with my chauffer on my way to a meeting. One of these elephant rider beggars stopped a car and actually blocked it from proceeding until they got their money. So, if you see elephants on the roads be careful and warn your chauffer of the same.

Beware of the Elephants!