EXTRACTS FROM MY EXPERIENCES IN BANGLADESH(march – April 2010)
PAUL M., GERMANY
“When researching on the internet for suitable countries, places and projects I hit the page of the “Nothelfergemeinschaft der Freunde e.V.” This association arranges for volunteers to work for organizations in developing countries. This is how I learnt about the NGO Mati Bangladesh. Their conditions and projects were exactly what I was looking for. This is how I decided to go to Bangladesh and work as a volunteer for Mati for six weeks.”
“After a 16-hour flight I was met at Dhaka airport by a MATI Cooperative staff member and we traveled by bus to the MATI Cooperative head office at Mymensingh – (about another three hours travel time). Our bus had a flat tire on the way, everybody had to get out and wait for the next bus to come……………….. – just before my flight, I had read in my guidebook that this happens quite regularly!”
“Summarizing, I can say that this practical was an incredibly good and mind-expanding experience. Never before had I visited a country outside the western culture/civilization and could experience how people there live and work. The impressions I could win are extremely important.
HELENA REINGEN, GERMANY
“For myself I can say that a few months ago I did not even know where in the world Bangladesh was, let alone had I any idea about its history, politics, religion, culture or population. From the end of July until the middle of October this year through working with MATI Cooperative I had the possibility to get an insight into both the hustle and bustle of Bengali cities and the struggles of the poorest families in their more remote rural villages.”
“Tourists or generally “white” people are rarely seen here, and crowds of people gather around you wherever you go, staring at you in curiosity and wonder. Additional comes the obvious poverty everywhere, the heavy traffic, the excess pollution, the noisy horns – and you can imagine that the scrapes, bumps and bashes on the buses certainly won’t be the last ones!”
“The warmth and kindness of the Bengali people on the other hand impressed me so much that this re-compensated for any of the other negative impressions that I may have experienced, and therewith confirmed my intention to return at some stage once more to Bangladesh.”
“People who in our eyes have very little, invite you with proud, shining eyes into their huts and offer you food which they themselves would have much more need of. I heard some families’ life stories and their struggle for survival – mostly without any complaining and more often with a positive and proud attitude to what they were still able to achieve.”
“Staying in rural Huzurikanda one could dip into a world rarely seen by tourists, you get a deep insight into the daily struggle and hard life of most Bengali people and are moved to offer any help that you can.”
“In my time in Bangladesh I could collect a lot of experiences and could learn a lot about the country itself, its people, and at the same time about the plight of the poor. I got an insight into the structure and work of an NGO and was fortunate enough to experience a really good working team, and I hope to visit again one day.”
“What abilities do you have to help people? – this was a question that many people asked me in relation to my planned volunteering service! For the last few years it had always been my wish, but every time I thought that this would be nothing for me because I had no knowledge or experience of this type of work. I am no doctor, nurse or social worker so how can I help people?”
“Bangladesh is still a very unknown country where tourists are very rarely found because most travelers tend to spend their time in neighbouring India.”
“After a long and agonizing journey I finally arrived into Bangladesh – the country that I had been looking forward to for so long, but I had not counted on contracting bronchitis just a few days before I left.”
“Take a person, shake them, turn them around on their own axis and they will lose control of themselves – that is how I felt in the first few days. The eyes and ears open, head and heart filled with indescribable emotions and feeling – one starts to break out laughing and at the same time a tear runs down your cheek………………….maybe the reason for these strong feelings was the bronchial fever, or perhaps it was just the acceptance that I had finally arrived into Bangladesh……………………”
“It is not really possible to describe the daily life because every day was different and brought many new experience”
“You get confronted with something that we have forgotten existed –Survival”
“How can I feed my family? This question haunts the poor and forms gloomy lines on their faces”
“Quickly I gave up asking myself why these people have to suffer so much, because I know I have no answer for it. I learned to listen and communicate with the help of a translator –to understand people’sufferings and to offer the best I could to help alleviate their situation. Often I felt guilty because I was born in a society which squanders and consumes, with no thought to the consequences of their actions and destinies of other countries.”
“People in Bangladesh are very helpful, friendly and humorous. It was a great joy to take part in their jokes and just to spend time with them. My attempts at speaking Bangla mostly failed, but were met with friendly laughter whether in the Bazaar, on the bus, or in the tea shop.”
“Before I fell asleep at night I had time to reflect on the past day – and every time it was clear to me that I had made the right decision to go to Bangladesh and experience how an NGO evolved – and with the will and energy of it’s staff manages to offer opportunities to thousands of people in a country that at first sight appears to have very little hope.”
Stipends are granted to students from the poorest families, who have the explicit wish to go to school. Actual performance in school is not the main criteria, because we acknowledge how difficult it is for the poor to keep up with the standards set by mainstream society.
Mati employees are always in touch with the families in order to support them as soon as there is a problem and to check that the children are actually going to school.
The first children who were supported since 2005, did their A-Levels now and are starting their studies in college or at a university. Before, this was absolutely impossible for children of extremely poor families. We are celebrating this great success with them!
Costs are 80 Euros to support a child up to class 6, and 120 Euros a year for a student in class 6 and above.
If you also want to give a child the chance to education, contact us via email to receive the family story of the student whom we will support with your funds