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BICN 18-31 Jan 2001

Volume 4 Number 10

From the Editor

Feature Article

Sponsoring Girls into Education in Dhaka

This Issue's Sponsors (Paid Advertising)

Ebenessel Intl School - Another Educational Option for Expatriate Families in Dhaka

Employment Opportunity for Coordinator and English Teachers for EIS English Medium

Contemporary Bengali Instruction

Ethnic Bandarban Hilltract Tours: Specials for Dhaka Expats

Community Announcements

Book Review: "We Live in Chittagong, Bangladesh - A Personal Guide"

More People To Gain Access To Micro-Credit - New Project Aims To Reach Larger Numbers & The Poorest Of The Population

Musicians & Performers Wanted For BAGHA Pub Folk & Blues Night

Events Calendar, Dhaka & Beyond


Digital South Asia Library

Non-Commercial Advertisements

Subscription, Advertising, & Other Details

Next issue submission deadline Tue 30 Jan 2001.

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

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From the Editor 

I note with sadness the death this week of Professor Edward Dimock, eminent scholar of South Asia and specifically Bengali area studies. One of Prof. Dimock's students, Dr. Tony Stewart, currently professor of religion at North Carolina State University, has been a regular visitor to Dhaka and Calcutta in recent years and is known to some of you.

From,2669,SAV-0101160209,FF.html [no longer online]:

Edward Cameron Dimock, 71, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago who was an internationally known scholar of Bengali language and literature, had a special way with students. He inspired them, certainly, but he also was there with a bed and food when they were stranded in India without money.

Professor Dimock, who had been at the U. of C. for almost 35 years before retiring in the early 1990s, died Thursday, Jan. 11, of cancer at his home in Centerville, MA.

In 1999, Algonquin Books published "Dr. Dimock Explores the Mysteries of the East," a personal narrative of his thoughts and experiences with India. At the time of his death, he was completing "Chips from a Cape Cod Pasture," a book of reflections on the region that his family plans to publish.

Professor Dimock, a distinguished service professor emeritus in South Asian languages and civilizations, had written a number of scholarly publications, including "The Thief of Love: Bengali Tales from Court to Village" (Chicago, 1963); "The Place of the Hidden Moon: Erotic Mysticism in the Vaisnava-Sahajiya Cult of Bengal" (Chicago, 1966); "In Praise of Krishna" (Chicago, 1967), a volume of translated poetry; and, most recently, "The Caitanya-Caritamrta of Krsnadasa Kaviraja" (Harvard, 1999), a translation of the biography of the Bengali saint, which represented a lifetime of work by the professor.

Born in Roslindale, Mass., Professor Dimock graduated from Roxbury Latin School, went on to Yale University and then to Harvard University's divinity school where he received a PhD in 1959. - By Ruth E. Igoe, Tribune Staff Writer, January 16, 2001

Feature Article

Sponsoring Girls into Education in Dhaka

By Mike & Rosey Whittles (email )

Koruna, Dorifa, and Sokina are all twelve year old girls who work in the Gulshan-2 market of Dhaka city. Each day at 8am, they enter the competitive scramble with dozens of other young children, to try to entice or coerce customers to hire them as carriers of their purchases.

This involves long hours hanging around inside the gloomy premises, from 8am until 10pm, usually with no food, fending off the unwelcome attentions of older men, hoping to appeal to a friendly buyer and earn a few Taka. Sometimes they strike it lucky and a generous shopper gives them twenty or thirty Taka for a few minutes work. Most days they get barely enough to pay for a rickshaw home again.

It's poor work, but it's all that these young girls can find to do, and each of their families desperately needs the money. The girls live in tiny, one room slum houses, each the eldest child of large families. Atypically, they all have fathers, but Koruna's and Dorifa's are both unemployed and sick with lung problems. Sokina's father is crippled from a road accident but he still manages to beat her when her daily earnings are too small. Each of their mothers is uneducated with several small children to nurse.

The responsibility of providing rice each evening and the month's rent for the slum weighs heavily on the slender shoulders of these three young girls.

In January this year, their market life must cease when they come of age to take up work in one of the many garments factories in this area. Still at 12 years old, they will begin working 72 hour weeks to earn Tk 800 each month (not quite USD15). They will walk to and from the factory each day, even in the monsoon, because a rickshaw ride would take most of their earnings. They will work in overcrowded and unhealthy buildings, reminiscent of the Dickens era, to provide quality garments for the export trade in well-known designer labels. They will struggle to work even when they are ill, because if they are absent they won't get paid and may lose their jobs. They will not drink much water at work because they are only rarely allowed to leave the workbench to go to the toilets. But it is a job, and their families will be delighted with even such a meagre addition to the family budget.

This will be their destiny for at least three years. At 14 or 15 they will be married off to whatever man will have them without a dowry and, unless they are unusually fortunate, spend the next years bearing babies and struggling to survive.

Unless, that is, something happens to break the cycle. And, in fact, something has!

Koruna, Sokina and Dorifa have just this month been given the opportunity to attend school for at least one year to learn to read and write. Following a previous appeal, enough sponsors came forward to cover the costs. None of these girls has ever had more than a few months of schooling before. Now they will be paid Tk 800 a month to go to school instead of to the garments factory! The girls are delighted at the prospect and their parents are happy too, for there will be no loss of income to the family.

In the middle of January a new class opened at the Nyanagar AG Church School. A new teacher is being sponsored under this same scheme just to take these older uneducated girls, avoiding the embarrassment of their being part of a much younger Class 1 student group. At last the girls will have the opportunity to learn, for the first time, skills that can enable them to take a measure of control over their own lives.

But there is room for more!

The positive response by sponsors so far shows that we could now extend the scheme to more candidates. Possible choices: eleven year old Lehaymi, twelve year old Tashlima and her 13 year old sister Mirani, twelve year old Dolly, ten year old Labia (sister of Dorifa), and nine year old Matuda , Ruma and Lubbly. They all need schooling.

Older girls will attend the Nyanagar AG Church School. I am arranging to sponsor a new teacher for a new class of beginners. This will cost Tk 1800 per month, but it will mean that the girls will start learning together and without the embarrassment of being part of an infant group in Class 1. The class is beginning this weekend, all being well.

Some of the younger children should be able to attend the Swedish-maintained Nyanagar Christian School and discussions are presently being held to see if this is a practical alternative. It should also be possible to sponsor these younger children at a reduced rate per month, taking into account their family situations and earning potential.

We need more sponsors!

There are dozens of children working in Gulshan-2 market and living in the local slums who have had no schooling, many of them girls. I spoke to Tashlima last night. "Yes, I can write," she said proudly. "I can write my name and my sister's name and my father's name." "Can you write a letter?" She shook her head and grinned shamefacedly. "No, I can't write anything else." Educational sponsorship could empower such girls and give them a chance to begin to shape their own lives - instead of being controlled by others.

If you could offer at least 12 months support for a teenager (Tk800 ie USD15 per month, or for a younger child Tk 400 per month), please contact me as soon as possible and I will take up your offer when a suitable child is found. We already have a sponsor to provide a teacher for one year at a monthly cost of around Tk 1800, but we will shortly be looking to employ a second. If you might like to help in that way please let us know.

Beyond that, there is also the opportunity to give a gift for the purchase of books, bags, and the general practical needs that these children have. We need a fund for educational purchases and further help as required. We are finding that many children are lacking basic clothing and shoes in which to attend school. Some need to have a school uniform. Most can't afford pencils, books or a school bag. A new beginner is probably costing an average of Tk 300-400 to place.

Please inform me how you would like your gift or sponsorship to be used. If you also give me an address (preferably email) I will update you regularly on progress being made and how your gift is making a difference.

Future plans: Once the most vulnerable of the girls we know has been placed in school we would like to extend the scheme to young boys too, some of those we know lead a miserable life struggling to earn a living on the streets. The younger category can be, at little cost, fed into local primary schools to receive some basic education. The older ones, several sleeping on the streets and without parental care, need shelter and some vocational training too. There is also a desperate need for shelter, education and training for the large number of young mothers and abandoned wives presently begging for a living on the street.

We shall be urgently looking at the possibility of setting up a shelter/help centre in Gulshan in the near future.

Donations in the UK may be made direct to a "Love Bangladesh"account we have set up for this purpose at Lloyds TSB Bank, please email us for the sort code and account details. Donations can also be made from anywhere in the world by credit card - email us for details.

Mike and Rosey Whittles 
Tel 018237109 
c/o Grace International School 
House 78(B) Road 23 Gulshan-1 
Dhaka-1212 Bangladesh

This Issue's Sponsors

Ebenessel Intl School - Another Educational Option for Expatriate Families in Dhaka

Starting next year, Ebenessel International School (EIS) in Bashundhara, also known as the Korean School, is opening its doors to expatriate families of all nationalities. We provide an American educational curriculum, based on a Christian perspective, covering primary (grades 1-6) and secondary (grades 7-12) levels. Currently EIS has eight excellent teachers, two Canadian and six Bangladeshi, teaching 32 Korean and Indian students. For next year, EIS will be recruiting more Western teachers and is planning to expand enrolment to over 40 students.

The curriculum consists of English medium instruction each morning for all students, and national instruction each afternoon for students to study their own language, history, etc.

Fees are very reasonable and bus transportation is provided.

If you are an expat family interested in finding out more about EIS for your child, please contact Paul Lee, Principal, tel 8812922 / 8911254, email  or  .

Employment Opportunity for Coordinator and English Teachers for EIS English Medium

EIS would like to recruit a Coordinator and English Teachers with the following qualifications:

o Foreign passport holder o Native English speaker o At least one year teaching experience o ESL, MK and International school experience & training is an advantage o Expat spouses are encouraged to apply o Women are preferred for the teaching positions

For more information, please contact Paul Lee, Principal, tel 8812922 / 8911254, email  or  .

Contemporary Bengali Instruction

Nondita Chowdhury offers Bengali instruction to individuals and groups:

+Course 1, Survival Bangla - 20 2-hour sessions focusing on speaking and understanding

+Course 2, Basic Bangla - 20 2-hour sessions with the introduction of reading and writing

+Individual instruction - tailored to students needs

Courses run for five days per week over four weeks and cost Tk6000 per person for groups of two to seven, or Tk7500 for one person, includes all materials. Individualized instruction is also available at Tk400/hour per person. Ms Chowdhury was principal of Heed Language Centre (1991-97), and has over 20 years experience in Bengali instruction. Lessons given at her school in Gulshan or learner's home or office. For more information, call Ms Chowdhury at 8020650, or email , include your name & telephone number.

Ethnic Bandarban Hilltract Tours: Specials for Dhaka Expats 

January is the last month to enjoy our introductory 'Expat Specials' -- book this month in groups of 4-6 for tours anytime in 2001 and get up to 25% discounts! Profits go directly to indigenous projects. Join us in the Bandarban Hills in southeastern Bangladesh and visit the easygoing tribal 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! Contact Reng Yu, your tour coordinator, anytime at or mobile 018-318345, or click

Community Announcements

Book Review: "We Live in Chittagong, Bangladesh - A Personal Guide"

Edited by Jodi Smith and Caroline Bauer. Chittagong International Women's Association, 2001

Have you ever wanted some articles to give to people at home to show what living in Bangladesh is like? Need encouragement to write your own stories of life in the developing world? Ever wondered how expatriates are viewed by Bangladeshis? Are you going to live in Chittagong or know someone who is?

If so, then this book is for you.

When the book first arrived, several of the articles caught my eye immediately - the anecdotal discussion of how to handle the beggars we all encounter, different opinions on wearing salwar kameez, and one entitled "A Professional Man" (about a rock breaker). This is no ordinary guide to shopping and leisure activities. There are personal musings, some philosophical, some funny, some sad (and some with which I disagreed). There are affirmations for activities you might enjoy in Dhaka as well (I just love going to the vegetable market at Gulshan-2!) Included are colorful descriptions of people, their work, and the countryside, along with great personal experiences from women of different nationalities. Plus, many of the stories gave me an appreciation for living in Dhaka, while at the same time making me wish I could live part of the year in Chittagong.

The second night I had the book, I started to read a few pages and ended up finishing it in about an hour and a half. When done, I felt great about living in Bangladesh and was inspired to get out exploring a bit more. Isn't that what a good book is supposed to do for you? Educate, inspire and support? This guide fits the bill. -Jo DeVries

More People To Gain Access To Micro-Credit - New Project Aims To Reach Larger Numbers & The Poorest Of The Population

World Bank Media Release, Bangladesh Microfinance II, Dhaka January 18, 2001-The World Bank today approved a US$151 million IDA credit for a project to improve and expand micro-lending in Bangladesh. The Second Poverty Alleviation Micro-finance Project aims to increase access to credit and ensure sustainability of the country's micro-lending programs.

"Providing micro-credit is one of the most effective means Bangladesh has of directly improving the lives of its poorest people, especially women," said Reazul Islam, the World Bank's team leader for the project. "Since it began around 20 years ago, micro-lending has provided a path out of dire poverty for millions of people in this country. With this project we hope to reach more of those who have been left out or under-served so far, and to ensure that micro-lending is sustainable into the future."

The project follows an earlier $105 million IDA credit provided in 1996. The first micro-finance project helped provide micro-credit to about 2.2 million borrowers by the time it closed on December 31, 2000. The project has had a strong impact on poverty by helping to stabilize income and consumption, improving quality of life (through increased access to clean water, and better health and hygienic conditions), increasing school enrollment rates, and enhancing family ssets. It has improved financial viability of partner NGOs who retail microcredit, enabling them to seek part of their funding needs from the financial market, allowing their gradual integration into the formal financial sector.

Musicians & Performers Wanted For BAGHA Pub Folk & Blues Night

"We are putting together a programme of folk music and blues for Thu 15 Feb, and we are looking for community talent to participate. All kinds of folk and blues accepted, but we want to avoid rock'n'roll, pop, vaudeville/music-hall, jazz and opera. (These can be the subjects of future events.) We want the event to resemble as closely as possible a typical pub folk night. Don't worry if you can't play an instrument. If you know the songs and you want to perform, we can find accompanying musicians. If you can offer a two-song set for the programme please contact Tom Hunter at  .

Events Calendar, Dhaka & Beyond 

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 16 Jan 01.

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

Late January

Starts 19 Jan - Kid's Interclub Tennis Tournament.

Sun 21 January - UNWA newcomer's tea, 10.30am. Email  for venue.

Wed 24 Jan Chittagong - The British Council presents a poetry reading by Sudeep Sen and emerging poets. At 6pm in the Chittagong Club Auditorium.

Thu 25 Jan - The Dhaka Caledonian Society Burns Night Celebration will be held at the British High Commission Club from 7:30pm. Ticket price of GBP15 or BDT1,300 includes welcome drink, hot buffet with table wine, disco and Scottish dance music, competition and raffle with some traditional toasts and of course the Haggis. For information and reservations email  or barry.greenlee@dhaka.mail.fco. 

Tue 30 Jan - Submission deadline for next issue of BICN.

Wed 31 Jan - The British Council presents a poetry reading by Sudeep Sen and emerging poets. At 6pm in the British Council Auditorium.

** Early February & Beyond

February - Street Children's Party, BAGHA Club.

Thu 1 Feb - Caribbean Night at the BAGHA Club. 9pm. Tickets Tk350.

Fri 2 Feb - Annual ICDDR,B Endowment Fund Ball, Sonargaon Hotel. Tk1500/person. Reserve a table of 10 now by contacting ICCDR,B External Relations at 988-1626 or vbrooks@icddrb  . Raffle tickets @ Tk25, book of four @ Tk100 are available, contact loretta@icddrb  .

Wed 7 Feb - BWA Annual General Meeting at 3pm. Talk & photo exhibition - details to be finalised at a latter date. Email for venue.

10-11 Feb - The British Council presents, "State of Bengal," Asian underground from the UK plus Miles and a fusion session with Dhaka classical musicians. At 7pm in Osmani Hall. Admit cards Tk80 at British Council, British Council Teaching Centre, Sagor Publishers Bailey Rd, Video Connection Gulshan, Film Fair Video Dhanmondi.

Thu 15 Feb - Pub Folk And Blues Night at the BAGHA.

Fri 19 Feb - "Lady in Red" Valentine Dinner Dance, ARA

Wed 21 Feb - Shaheed Dibash (Government holiday)

Tue-Thu 6-8 Mar - Eid ul Azha (Government holiday, subject to moon)

Wed 7 Mar - BWA Monthly Meeting. Email for details.

Sat 17 Mar - Bangabandhu's Birthday (Government holiday)

Mon 26 Mar - Independence Day (Government holiday)


Digital South Asia Library


A project of the Center for Research Libraries with financial and other support from multiple sources, the Digital South Asia Library will likely become a major online resource for South Asia scholars. The site is very much still under development, but there are some resources available. These include pedagogical tools, photos and images, statistics, some bibliographies, electronic books, and some related links. Anyone who studies South Asia will want to bookmark this site and monitor its development. One of the complete text offerings is a Bengali reader by Professor Edward Dimock. [Item contributed by Jean Sack]

Non-Commercial Advertisements 

Always free in BICN - personal classified ads, this means ads to buy or sell personal household items, to hire or place household staff. For security/privacy reasons, ads contain only names and email addresses - residential addresses and phone numbers are not normally published.

BLENDER WANTED - If you've got one you don't need anymore, or never really got around to using, I'll buy it from you. Email gerry@mccb 

WANTED TO BUY: Audio equipment: stereo hifi amplifier and loudspeakers. If you have either for sale, email

EMPLOYMENT SOUGHT: "Sukomar, my part-time roof-top gardener, is available for additional part-time or alternative full-time employment as chowkhidar, chowkhidar-cum-mali or mali. He has last been employed full-time in mid-1998 and has a wife and two sons to support. He understands English quite well, will ask for clarification if he does not understand, works reliably and independently and has a very pleasant personality. He comes to work on his bicycle, neatly dressed and can be particularly recommended for apartment dwellers wanting special care for their potted plants etc. Email  "

EMPLOYMENT SOUGHT: We will be moving from a large house with a garden to a small flat. Hence, we have various staff that we will no longer be able to employ. They ALL come with my highest recommendation for honesty and loyalty, cleanliness, punctuality, reliability and genuine hard work. All have been in my (or the company's) employ for up to 20 years. All speak very good English. For more information email . 1. DILLIP - COOK/BEARER. Dillip can prepare a range of dishes and is extremely quick to learn, reads and writes English and Bengali, handles shopping efficiently and runs a scrupulously honest "kitchen book" . Washes, irons and cleans the house well. Capable of cooking for a large gathering (50+) with minimal guidance and little advance warning. He is quiet and non-intrusive, easy to have around and deserves to continue in good, solid employment. 2. JOYNEL - COOK/BEARER. Joynel began work for me as a bearer, having been with the company for many years in this capacity. He has since become a good cook, and, with guidance will quickly learn new dishes, producing tasty and well presented food. His house duties are always carried out with care, as he is a very hard worker. Joynel is absolutely reliable in every way. He is extremely pleasant and adaptable, including babysitting (I have had every confidence in leaving Jake with Joynel over the last 2+ years) Joynel works well in our busy, bustling household and I hope to find him an excellent replacement. 3. CHOKU - MALI/ASSISTANT BEARER/DAY GUARD. One of the most reliable and consistent of company staff over the last 16 years. Helps inside the house enormously, doing much of the housework when the other staff are away, scrubbing floors and carpets etc, and turning his hand to butlering when there is a party. Cooks simple dishes, makes bread etc. Marvellous with children, happily adapting to cricket or basketball as needed. Tends the garden and does day guard duty. A most pleasant man and an asset to any household. 4. TUKU - NIGHT GUARD. Flawless record in always being present for duty and, to my knowledge, doing his duty well. A loyal member of staff for many years.

FOR SALE: Quarter size child's violin in excellent condition, Tk12,000. High quality imported wooden high chair with tray, very good condition Tk3000 (new equivalent would be ~Tk5000); USA child carseat (for older baby up to about four years old), excellent condition functionally but well worn in appearance, Tk3000 (new equivalent would be ~Tk4000).. Email 

WANTED TO BUY: A dehumidifier in good condition--either 110V or 220V. We live in Chittagong but we could arrange to collect from Dhaka. If you have one for sale, please email  ..

Subscription, Advertising, & Other Details

BICN is a free email newsletter published first & third Wednesdays, September to May, from Dhaka Bangladesh. Sara Bennett, Editor.

Contact Info - Email all inquiries & items to . BGD tel +880(2)988-1708, USA fax +1(978)418-8132, mail H28 R4 Blk C, Banani Dhaka.

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