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BICN 5-18 October 2000

Volume 4 Number 3


From the Editor 

Ruminations on Mobile Computing, BICN on PDAs, & the Digital Divide

Feature Article 

Lower Maternal Mortality Rates in Bangladesh and Nepal

This Issue's Sponsors (Commercial Advertising) 

Ecotours to the Bandarban Hills: Special Package for Dhaka Expats 

Badhon, The Largest And Only Computerized Matchmaking Agency In Bangladesh 

Freelance Employees Sought

Community Announcements 

2nd Annual Moulvi Bazar Winter Clothes Giveaway 

Cantemus Seeking Singers 

Medical Aid Sought, Bandarban Hill Tracts

Events Calendar, Dhaka & Beyond

Late October

Early November & Beyond



E-consultations on Information & Knowledge Access, Content, Technology & Empowerment in South Asia on Bangladesh 

New Resource for Newcomers to the USA - 

Beauty in Diversity -

Non-Commercial Advertisements


  BICN is published first & third Wednesdays, September to May, from Dhaka Bangladesh. BICN welcomes announcements, personal classified ads, letters to the editor, press releases, and articles - all non-commercial items appear FREE. Commercial advertisements appear for a small fee. Email inquiries & items to . Next issue submission deadline Tue 17 Oct 2000. Email to subscribe. Sara Bennett, Editor.

(c) BICN. BICN items may be freely reprinted with this attribution: "Source: Bangladesh International Community News ( / )."




Ruminations on Mobile Computing, BICN on PDAs, & the Digital Divide

I just started using a Palm IIIxe. It's a tiny computer that fits in my purse, with 8Mb of memory and an add-on modem so it can check email and browse the Web on its own, without being hooked up to a desktop or laptop. Somewhat to my surprise (having resisted buying a PDA for years...) I'm finding it incredibly handy (as I trekked through Vancouver, Baltimore, Cleveland, Boston, Bangkok ... you get the idea).

I've got my Palm set up to download the current front pages of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal every time I "sync". Indeed, the Palm will happily keep a current copy of any webpage or site you tell it to (facilitated by AvantGo - see The Palm naturally prefers PDA-friendly sites (small and simple) but it tries its best to handle "normal" sites too. Pretty soon I'll be carrying around a PDA-friendly version of the current issue of the BICN newsletter ... just as soon as I get it set up.

The really interesting thing is, it appears that palmtop+wireless access will soon become THE way people in developing countries access the Internet, with adoption rates for both technologies proceeding at an almost unbelievably fast rate. So - How can this technology be harnessed by and for Bangladeshis to bridge the digital divide (the dial tone divide?) and support equitable social and economic development? Got any ideas?




Lower Maternal Mortality Rates in Bangladesh and Nepal

From: Caroline Jane Kent ( caroline.kent@dsw-hannover ), Press and Media Contact for the EC/UNFPA Reproductive Health Initiative for Asia (RHI)

According to UNFPA, complications of pregnancy and birth are the leading causes of death and disability for women aged 15 to 49 in most developing countries. Moreover of all the monitored health statistics, maternal mortality ratios of developing countries (i.e. the number of deaths to women per 100,000 live births) show the highest disparity to those of the developed countries.

Consequently, reducing maternal mortality is one of the goals of the EC/UNFPA Initiative for Reproductive Health (RHI) in Asia. The seven South East Asian Countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam) were chosen - amongst other reasons - due to their disproportionally high rate of maternal deaths.

The RHI in Asia works towards increasing and improving the access of pregnant women to RH services. This entails the provision of emergency obstretric and antenatal care as well as increasing the percentage of births attended by skilled birth attendants, all crucial to saving mothers' lives.

The latest figures on maternal mortality rates in Nepal and Bangladesh, released today in the State of the World Population 2000, UNFPA, give reason for hope. In Bangladesh the maternal mortality rate has fallen from 850 in 1999 to 440 in 2000, which is only surpassed by Nepal, which now has a maternal mortality rate of 540 compared to 1,500 last year.

This is without doubt a great achievement, based upon the valuable work carried out by numerous NGOs in the RH field some of which are supported by the RHI - as well as upon ambitious governmental initiatives in the respective countries. Nevertheless a look at the rates in Europe, e.g. the Netherlands with a maternal mortality ratio of 7, shows that there is still a long way to go.

For further information on RHI's work, visit . The State of the World Population 2000 can be viewed at .




Ecotours to the Bandarban Hills: Special Package for Dhaka Expats

Dying to escape Daffy Dhaka? International vacation breaks worn you out? Join us in the Bandarban Hille in southeastern Bangladesh and visit the easygoing Mru people, boat along the Sangu river, walk through verdant hills, stay in a hilltop cottage, imbibe a little moonshine, and sway to hypnotic Mru music!

Dhaka expats booking one month in advance in groups of 3-6 qualify for up to 25% discounts. Profits go directly to indigenous projects.

Contact Reng Yu, your tour coordinator, anytime at or mobile 018-318345, or click .

Badhon, The Largest And Only Computerized Matchmaking Agency In Bangladesh

Badhon now lets you find your match through its online data base! No more tiresome process of 'arrangements' for finding a match. For further details check out http: //  or write to us at , or call or visit our Uttara or City offices.

Badhon Uttara: House 19, Road 30 Sector 7, tel 8916966, 8918851, 8921067, fax: 8918798. Badhon City: 18, Dilu Road, tel 9331198 or 9342254. Matchmaking services since 1995.

Freelance Employees Sought

Dhaka based ad agency seeks to staff two part-time freelance positions (you take the work home as needed on a job-to-job basis, you DO NOT have to quit your current job):

(1) Bangla Typist, must be able to translate from English to Bangla, must have your own access to an Apple Macintosh computer.

(2) Macintosh Computer Operator proficient in Illustrator and Photoshop to do support work, other applications helpful, must have your own access to an Apple Macintosh computer.

Email your name, contact information, and CV to: .




2nd Annual Moulvi Bazar Winter Clothes Giveaway

Hi, I am a Peace Corps Volunteer working in Moulvi Bazar district in northeastern Bangladesh. I'm trying to arrange a clothing donation and distribution for the poor of my community in Bangladesh. Last year was successful, but I only collected from within my community in the US. This year I hope to involve the Bangladesh international community also.

So: are you are missing the Salvation Army and wish you had something to do with those winter clothes in a country with no winter? Well, believe it or not people freeze in Bangladesh, especially in the colder northern and northeastern districts like Moulvi Bazar.

Last year 200 pieces of clothing were collected and distributed to a slum community and rickshaw colony in Moulvi Bazar town. This year with your help we'd like to collect many more clothes and also distribute to some of the poor village communities outside of town. Anything you can give will be a big help.

Please drop your clothes donation off at the American School, Service Learning Office (first floor of the Middle School) 12 United Nations Road, Baridhara. Clothes collection will run until the end of November, 2000.


Matthew Rich ( )

Cantemus Seeking Singers

Cantemus is a Dhaka choir of men and women, singing a varied repertoire of both classical and light music. We have recently re-grouped with a new Director and have started rehearsing for a Christmas concert. Weekly rehearsals are Tuesday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Please join us if you enjoy singing, have good singing voice, can sing on key and have some basic ability of reading music. As of now, we would welcome additional sopranos, tenors and baritone/basses. If interested, speak to a Cantemus member or email .

Medical Aid Sought, Bandarban Hill Tracts

Are you a doctor or other medical practitioner? Willing to spend a few days with us visiting wonderful, exotic tribal villages in the Bandarban hills? The charming Mru people are in need of access to basic healthcare. Even with a short visit you could do a world of good. Any knowledge of herbal treatments would be really appreciated. Contact Reng Yu or David Buckley at .




To have your Bangladesh-related event - in Dhaka or anywhere else in the world - included in the next Event Calendar, please email the time, date, place, description, and email contact address to by Tues 17 Oct 00.

All events are in Dhaka unless otherwise noted. Entry to some events is restricted, eg to members - contact event organizers for more information.

Early October

5 Oct - Voter & consular registration drive, American Club 6-8pm. Club card, passport, or naturalization certificate required.

6-16 Oct 00 - First Solo Photographic exhibition of Dr. Pierre Claquin, opening 5:30pm Alliance Francaise de Dhaka. Dr. Claquin, a public health expert, has resided in Bangladesh for many years. The exhibition will remain open daily 9am-12 noon, 5-8pm daily. Email .

Fri 6 Oct - Castaway Night. At BHC 8pm. Tickets Tk500/person at BHC & BAGHA.

Fri 6 Oct - Back To School Disco for 6-11 year olds. Check ARA for details.

Mon 9 Oct - BWA Monthly Outing [NOTE DATE CHANGE], visit to ICDDR,B to hand over donation. Meet 2.30pm at BHC Residence for 3pm prompt departure. Email .

Tue 10 Oct - DAWC luncheon, American Club, 12:30pm, for DAWC members and Americans interested in joining. Cost $5/person. Email .

Mon 16 Oct - UNWA Newcomers Afternoon Tea at 3pm. Email for venue etc.

Tue 17 Oct - Submission deadline for next issue of BICN. Email items to news@

Wed 18 Oct - BWA Newcomers Afternoon Tea, Nordic Club from 1530 hours. Email .

Late October & Beyond

Tue 24 Oct - United Nations Day, UN agencies exhibit at the Sonagaon Hotel in front of the fountain, from 0900 to 1600. Email .

Tue 24 Oct - UNWA General Meeting from 1100 to 1200 in the Sonargaon Hotel. Email .

Fri 27 Oct - UNWA Ball, this year's theme is "Culture of Peace". Sonargaon Hotel Ball Room, 700pm on. Ball tickets Tk1500/person. UNWA Ball Raffle Tickets are Tk30/ticket, Tk150/book of five - buying raffle tickets gives you a chance to win wonderful prizes AND your donation will help UNWA continue supporting local projects for women and children such as: Assistance for Blind Children (ABC), Baridhara Mohila Samity (Pre-school), Bottomley Home and Orphanage, Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP), Community Participation and Development CDP), Street Children Program (CSKS), Dustha Nari-O-Shishu Kallatan Sangstha (DNSKS), Garment Worker's Clinic, Green Herald Afternoon School, Holy Cross College Gr. 12, Ibrahim School, Mother and Child Integrated Welfare Org. (MCIWO), Mother Theresa Children's Home, Mother Theresa Home for the Elderly, Sathee Samaj Kalyan Samity (school), School of Hope. Your small donation will surely make a difference in other people's lives!  For ball & raffle tickets, email .

Wed 8 Nov - BWA Used Clothes Swap/Sale. Get your unwanted clothes washed, ironed, and on hangers with a suggested price tag. A great fun evening. For venue email .

Sat 18 Nov - Symposium, "Women & human rights - what are the issues & how are they being addressed?" 2-5pm BRAC auditorium. Hosted by UNWA, DAWC, BWA and other organisations. Moderated by Claudio Conjaerts of ILO. Featured speakers will include Anita Bell of Acid Survivors Foundation, several Bangladeshi lawyers, and other representatives from local and international NGOs and foundations that are working on human rights. Participation will include advocates for human rights and representatives from the UN and affiliated organisations. We plan to invite other local women's organisations including the British Women's Association, SAARC Women, Dhaka Indian Women's Association, Zonta Club and other organisations involved in supporting local NGOs and institutions to attend and contribute. The format will include a panel discussion, followed by a tea break where human rights advocates and local NGOs will be on hand to present information concerning their activities. Following the tea break we will have either small group activities or a Question and Answer session. More info contact .

Thu 30 Nov - The Dhaka Caledonian Society's Annual St. Andrews Night Ball, at the British High Commission Club. There will be the usual sumptuous fare in the form of a six course meal, Scottish Dancing and Disco. Tickets will be on sale shortly, meantime to register your interest and reserve your place/table, please email either , ,  . Tickets are limited, so to avoid disappointment ACT NOW!

Fri 15 Dec - BWA Christmas Social.

Starts Fri 15 Dec - Chobi Mela Asian Photography Exhibition at the National Museum. Runs for one month. Organized by Drik Gallery in cooperation with Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institut, Royal Netherlands Embassy, British Council, and Pathshala-The South Asian Institute of Photography. See last issue's feature article for more info. Email  .

December: Convention, TechTransfer-2000:Bangladesh (TT2000:BD). This will be the second TechBangla convention, following on from the first that took place in Atlantic City USA in April 2000. TechBangla is a non-profit organization registered in USA and in Bangladesh, dedicated to catalyze the transfer of technology to Bangladesh. It was formed in June 1998 with the vision that technology, not aid, can bring lasting solutions to economic problems of Bangladesh. The fundamental strategy of TechBangla is to provide a platform for collaboration between resident Bangladeshis (RB) and non-resident Bangladeshis (NRB) who are Technologists, Investors and Entrepreneurs (TIEs). More info email . [Source: Bangladesh Studies Scanner, email for more information or to subscribe.]




E-consultations on Information & Knowledge Access, Content, Technology & Empowerment in South Asia

The British Council, OneWorld International and a host of TASKNET partners take pleasure to host e-consultations on information and knowledge issues for individuals interested in South Asia's development. These e-consultations are expected lead to joint actions on a number of areas of common interest. Individuals from national and state government agencies, public sector organisations, research institutes and universities, international development community, NGOs and media organisations are expected to participate.

The e-consultations will take place on four themes, from from 25 September 2000 and continuing for 10 weeks. Postings and weekly summaries will be posted and searchable at .


  • Access - Solutions to the multidimensional 'divides' such as monopolies, cost, infrastructure, urban vs rural, and gender that minimise access to information by communities. To subscribe to this discussion, email 

  • Content - People-centred approach to knowledge sharing, creation of 'public spaces' and appropriate, needs-based indigenous content development. To subscribe to this discussion, email 

  • Technology - Use of convergent technologies and open systems to ensure affordability and appropriateness in the use of ICTs for the creation of knowledge societies. To subscribe to this discussion, email 

  • Empowerment - The role of ICT in poverty alleviation, community work, rural development, gender and grassroots empowerment and social inclusion. To subscribe to this discussion, email 

[Submitted by , source the IISD (Winnipeg) Sustainable Development Listserver at ] on Bangladesh provides strategic analysis of current events through their website at and a  email newsletter (used to be free, now about USD50/year). They recently featured a piece on Bangladesh:

"In impoverished Bangladesh, a financial scandal buffets the government in advance of elections. Will the country be forced to quickly export its vast reserves of natural gas?" To subscribe see

New Resource for Newcomers to the USA -

Interactive online community serving the multicultural needs of people moving to the United States from around the world. Integrates how-to and real-life editorial content with innovative online tools and resources for the international community. Updated daily. Visit , email  .

Beauty in Diversity -

Aimed at North America's estimated fifteen million multiracial people. Founded by Art Harrison, a child of an interracial family. Visit, email  .




Personal classified ads always run free in BICN. If you need to buy or sell household items or hire or place household staff, email your information to . Note that for security/privacy reasons, ads contain only names and email addresses - residential addresses and phone numbers are not normally published.

EMPLOYMENT SOUGHT: Sontosh Costa worked for me as a "Cook-Bearer" Nov 99-Sep 00 during which he was honest, reliable, punctual, loyal, capable, and hard-working. He can prepare good Eastern and Western dishes, manage all aspects of a two-person household (shopping, cooking, washing, cleaning, running errands, and odd jobs). Good spoken and written English. Sontosh takes initiative and is pleasant nice to have around. Prospective employers, email and I will put you in touch with him.

EMPLOYMENT SOUGHT: Cook or Cook/Bearer. James Gomez available immediately. Excellent versatile cook, bakes delicious pastries, suitable as cook/bearer for a single person or cook for larger family. Continuously employed for 20 years, literate, speaks English well, honest, reliable very loyal. Flexible, accommodates cheerfully to the demands of a lively family and dinner guests dropping in without minimal notice. Prefers to live in during the week as his family lives near Tongi.. For more info email .

FOR SALE: Passbook car. 1990 grey Toyota Corolla imported new from Japan, less than 50K km. Excellent condition. USD2500 or best offer. Please call Khokan at 018215523 or email attention S.A. Khokan. ..

SEEKING TO BUY: washing machine in good working order with hot & cold washes. Email . ..

DOG WALKING SERVICE AVAILABLE: Does your dog get enough exercise? Tofique took loving care of our dogs for two years and he is now available part time to care for and walk your dog, and give it the attention it deserves while you are at work or not at home. He genuinely likes animals and our animals responded warmly to his care and attention. To meet Tofique, contact Shameema at 881-4604 or 881-7699, (the IOM Office). For a reference, email suzanne@teledata  . ..

+ Newsletter subscribers: 763 (+4 in the last two weeks).

+ Visitors to BICN website since inception (Apr 98): 39,300 (1503 in the last two weeks).