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since April 1998




BICN 22 Mar - 4 Apr 2001

Volume 4 Number 13

From the Editor


Letters to the Editor

Multi Fibre Agreement 

Dragonboats in Bangladesh?

Feature Article

Message From US Congress Bangladesh Caucus Chairman To His Colleagues in Congress

This Issue's Sponsors (Commercial Ads)

Offered for Sale - Easy Bangla Software (Version 2.0 With Voice) For Foreigners & Bangladeshi Children Abroad

Effective Bangla Language Center (EBLC)

Community Announcements

Habitat for Humanity in Bangladesh 

Call for Papers on Bangladesh Economic and Policy Issues, Association for Economic and Development Studies on Bangladesh (AEDSB) 

From British Women's Association 

World Bank To Help Bangladesh Strengthen Literacy Programs - Project Will Help The Newly Literate Apply Skills, Improve Living Standards

Events Calendar, Dhaka & Beyond


Bangladesh Youth Federation Website 

Bengali Books Online at [no longer online]

Personal Advertisements

Subscription, Advertising, & Other Details

Next issue submission deadline Tue 6 Mar 2001.

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

Get BICN on your handheld! Visit:

From the Editor 

My apologies that there was no newsletter for early March - I was in Canada for a family funeral.

Also, I plan to do only two more issues this publication year, one in April and one in May. This is because I have been doing three email newsletters a month (two BICN and one Arsenic Crisis News) since December, which turns out to be about half a newsletter a month too much for a "hobby"!

Finally, the current best guess around my house is that we will be demobilizing from Bangladesh at the end of this school year.

I have not come up with any feasible scheme to continue the publication of BICN after my departure from Dhaka. The basic problem is this: I have been subsidizing BICN's ISP costs, and producing it for free, which was fine for me, but they are not conditions under which a new editor can reasonably be recruited.

Realistically, BICN's connect and website hosting ISP costs are about USD1000/year, and an editor's stipend/honorarium should be offered of at least USD2000/year (about USD200 per month of publication).

Advertising, which is BICN's only current source of income, generates only a few hundred dollars a year. Therefore, additional revenue of USD2700/year or more would have to be generated to keep BICN going.

For some time now, I have been mentally exploring a variety of options to generate additional revenue; such as charging for subscriptions, corporate sponsorship, soliciting voluntary donations a la NPR, increasing the amount of advertising by marketing it more actively ...), but my overall assessment is that the amounts that could be raised would be insufficient; plus which the marketing/administrative effort is fairly high for some of these approaches.

For example, to generate an additional USD2700 for next year, BICN would need 54 individuals or organizations to act as sponsors and donate USD50 each. This (54 sponsors) is a bit over 6% of the current ~850 subscribers; seems like a high proportion. A pure subscription system would also be possible (you pay USD18/year for the newsletter ie USD1 per issue), but I fear that this would become an administrative nightmare, plus which it would unquestionably reduce readership by a drastic proportion - I'm not sure by how much, but to generate USD2700, there would have to be at least 150 paying subscribers at USD18 each, or 20% of the current readership; which seems like a very high conversion rate from "free" to "paid".

Personally, I think suspending publication after June is perfectly OK - BICN has had a good run, I had fun doing it, but the sky is not going to fall if there's no more BICN! On the other hand, if enough of you in the subscriber community want it to continue, then I would be happy to put some additional effort into raising the funds to keep it going. Please let me know your thoughts.

Letters to the Editor

Multi Fibre Agreement

Dear Sara:

Your recent issue of BICN (vol 4 no 12) was only the second time during my seven years here in Bangladesh that I heard about the preferential (and time-limited) access to markets that Bangladesh enjoys under the Multifibre Agreement (MFA).

I have, however, never once come across any analysis of the current social impact of (mainly women's) garment work. ICDDR,B is currently conducting a child nutrition intervention in the Dhaka metropolitan area. Our impressions from households with weanling-age children who are already severely malnourished suggest that there are tremendous social costs to young women's garment work which have, as far as I know, remained largely unresearched and undocumented.

BICN readers along with myself would probably be interested to learn about any existing or planned study on the current social impact of garment work.

Petra Osinski 

Consultant Scientist, ICDDR,B

Dragonboats in Bangladesh?

Dear Editor,

I am particularly interested in Dragonboats. Are there any Dragonboating Clubs here in Dhaka? I have heard rumours of the sport here, but seem unable to find anyone interested or involved.

Many thanks 

Antony Lodge


Feature Article

Message From US Congress Bangladesh Caucus Chairman To His Colleagues in Congress

[I thought this was fairly interesting. I got it from The Bangladeshi-American Foundation, Inc., email - Ed.]

Join The Congressional Bangladesh Caucus March, 2001

Dear Colleague:

We are writing to invite you to join the Congressional Bangladesh Caucus.

The purpose of this bipartisan Congressional Member Organization is to heighten Congressional awareness of the political, social and economic issues affecting Bangladesh. With a country the size of the State of Wisconsin and a population equal to half of the United States, Bangladesh is the largest Muslim country with a working democracy.

Bangladesh overcame formidable challenges of rapid population growth and food deficit within a generation after becoming Independent in 1971. The country is consolidating democratic principles at home, is a partner in global peacekeeping efforts, and an exporter of development ideas, including the Grameen Bank microcredit concept.

In 1999, Bangladesh reached a political resolution of a 21-year-old domestic insurgency without the involvement of a third party or any international agency. Problems with the Chakma tribe in the Chittagong Hill Tracts are traceable to the separation of British India into Pakistan and India in 1947, with all the ingredients of a Kashmir situation. These problems exacerbated during the Pakistan period and subsequently in Bangladesh when East Pakistan became Bangladesh. With democratic consolidation in the country, successive governments worked towards achieving a politically negotiated resolution culminating in a landmark agreement between the government and leaders of the insurgency movement.

Bangladesh is also contributing to global peace and democratic development. From 1988 to March 2001, it has contributed over 38,000 personnel in 26 countries for international peacekeeping and related efforts, including participation in Operation Dessert Shield and Haiti.

The US-Bangladesh bilateral relationship has also evolved. The aid donor and recipient relationship of the 1970s has been replaced with a relationship based on increased trade and investment. The U.S. has become the adopted home to an increasing number of highly educated and financially and professionally well-established Bangladeshi-Americans, now numbering 250,000 strong.

With the help of Bangladeshi-American organizations, other NGO's, embassy officials, and other experts, our goal is to keep members of Congress updated on current events in Bangladesh, resulting in informed policy decisions.

If you would like to join the Congressional Bangladesh Caucus, or would like more information, please contact [_].

We look forward to working with you.


Joseph Crowley 

Member of Congress 

Chairman, Bangladesh Congress


This Issue's Sponsors (Commercial Ads)

Offered for Sale - Easy Bangla Software (Version 2.0 With Voice) For Foreigners & Bangladeshi Children Abroad

Easy Learn Bangla Software (Ver. 2.0) by '212 Soft Bangladesh' will help you learn Bangla by yourself at home in a short time. It is very user friendly and fun to play with; foreigners who tested it for us gave us very positive responses. Features of the program include:

  • Introduction to the Bangla language
  • Bangla alphabet and numbers, with animated writing order, scientific pronunciation with voice, and automatic English-to-Bangla number conversion
  • Easy Bangla Grammar, a simplified approach to Bangla Grammar
  • Useful daily conversations with voice- such as greetings, getting around, food and restaurants, asking directions, around town, making hotel reservations, shopping, talking on the telephone, emergencies, Bangla proverbs etc.

To run the software, you need to have a computer with Windows 95 +,Pentium processor, 16Mb RAM, 5 Mb free hard disk space and a CD-ROM drive.

To purchase, visit Aarong's Dhaka (Dhanmondi, Gulshan) or Chittagong outlets. Or, email to arrange delivery to your home or office (by courier to international addresses). Software price net of shipping is Tk1000 / USD18. For more information, please contact Dr. Aminul Karim Chowdhury, 212 Soft Bangladesh, S/25 Noorjahan Rd, Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh, tel +880(2)8115958, cell 018-239711.

Effective Bangla Language Center (EBLC)

A new Bangla language center in Banani with a grop of the most experienced instructors. We promist to make your life easier in Bangladesh. Courses are offered 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
  • Advanced course - focusing on Bengali customs, culture, historical, social, and religious aspects
  • Special course for diplomats
  • Crash course in spoken Bangla specially designed for Western children
  • Intensive course & individual instruction tailored to students' needs

All instructors are former senior staff of HEED Language Center, each with 12+ years of Bengali teaching experience.

Email, include your name & telephone number. 

School Opening Hours: 8:30am to 4pm 

Address: House 16/A, Road 25/A, Banani 

Hotline: 017678547 

Evenings after 7pm: 802, 8129299, 8018967, 8114663 

Fees: One-time registration Tk1000. One month course fee Tk5500. Hourly rate Tk350. Book Tk200.


Community Announcements

Habitat for Humanity in Bangladesh

[This item was excerpted from The Jute, Vol. 1369, Wed 21 Mar 2001.]

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian housing ministry started 25 years ago. Over the years many volunteers have joined in, resulting in more than 100,000 houses being built in 76 countries. More than 28 families are now living in decent and healthy homes in Bangladesh since Habitat began building in Mymensingh in January 2000. We expect to build 100 houses in Bangladesh this year.

If you would like to volunteer some weekend at one of our local Habitat work sites, please contact us. We promise you that it will be one of the most rewarding times in your life! For those of you who may be thinking, "I would like to work on a house but I don't have any experience," we'll teach you how! Contact Tim or Diane Fonderlin, habitat@citechco .

Call for Papers on Bangladesh Economic and Policy Issues, Association for Economic and Development Studies on Bangladesh (AEDSB)

The Executive Committee of the Association for Economic and Development Studies on Bangladesh (AEDSB) has decided to provide institutional support for publication of edited volumes on Bangladesh development issues on a regular basis, each consisting of research papers on economic issues and policies in Bangladesh. The first volume is expected to be published by the middle of 2002. All papers will be selected by the editors through a formal process of double blind reviewing by at least two referees.

Papers will be accepted on a wide range of topics in order to encourage researchers with expertise in different areas of economics. Papers should be submitted by 30 April 2001. For additional information on topics, formatting, etc., contact the editors: Dr Akhtar Hossain , Dr Farida Khan , Mr Tanweer Akram .

From British Women's Association

For those who are members of BWA, a reminder that it's time to pay your annual subscriptions. If you wish to join or become an associate member, contact one of the committee members. Email  .

World Bank To Help Bangladesh Strengthen Literacy Programs - Project Will Help The Newly Literate Apply Skills, Improve Living Standards

DHAKA, February 28, 2001--The World Bank has approved a US$53.3 million credit for a project to improve and expand literacy education in Bangladesh. The Post-Literacy and Continuing Education for Human Development Project aims to support the newly literate in sustaining their literacy skills and using them to increase their incomes, improve their family's welfare, and participate fully as citizens. The new project is designed to benefit newly literate adults, who are among the country's poorest people. The total project cost is US$ 71.5 million with US$53.3 from WB, US$ 7.0 million provided by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and US$11.2 million provided by the Government of Bangladesh.

"The purpose of education is to allow people to improve their family, work and community situations," said Ana Maria Jeria, the World Bank team leader for the project. "They need functional skills, sufficient literacy to support such skills, and a realistic belief that they can succeed in applying their education to improve their lives."

Currently, many people who complete basic literacy courses do not have the opportunity to continuously use and enhance their reading and writing skills in order to make them an effective tool for improving their social and economic life. In addition, it is likely that the lack of literacy content in many skills training programs, such as vocational or life-skills courses, that target illiterate people, limits the effectiveness of such programs.

The four primary objectives of the project are:

1. Promoting a Comprehensive and Enhanced Non-Formal Education System by offering technical expertise to help set a vision and develop a national framework for non-formal education, advocacy and dissemination activities.

2. Supporting Improved Post-literacy Education through helping the Directorate of Non- Formal Education (DNFE) integrate literacy with functional knowledge, to ensure that people are able to apply literacy skills to real opportunities.

3. Establishing a Continuing Education Program. Improving on services that are currently available, the project will support Continuing Education Centers; strengthen and develop courses for those centers; and link learners at the centers with opportunities for continuing education, employment, credit services, and other chances to improve their lives.

4. Strengthening Institutional Capacity by supporting DNFE in improving its administrative, financial information and monitoring systems and in developing its staff.

The five-year project is expected to benefit 1.6 million learners, half of them women. In addition, the project aims to create a nationwide network of organizations providing continuing education and related services, approximately 230 field offices that help link service providers and learners, and 6,900 village-level Continuing Education Centers. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other non-formal education providers will implement the post-literacy and continuing education programs.

Education And Poverty In Bangladesh

Illiterate Bangladeshis are more than twice as likely to be poor. Studies completed in 1996 showed that 48 percent of illiterate people were living in poverty compared to only 20 percent of the literate population.

In general, the government has placed high priority on education and has made substantial progress over the last 20 years. Most children now participate in primary school, and public expenditure on education has increased. The Government has also placed high priority on non-formal education specifically literacy training with a goal of achieving 84 percent adult literacy by the year 2002.

The current challenge is to improve quality of the government's programs, ensuring that children receive a good education and complete their schooling, and that adults who make the effort to become literate are provided with opportunities that make the effort worthwhile for themselves, their families and communities.

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 3 Apr 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 March

Mon 26 Mar - BAGHA Quiz Night.

Mon 26 Mar - Independence Day (Government holiday)

Tue 27 Mar to 4 April - Solo exhibition of photographs by Pierre Claquin, "Paintings on the Berlin Wall" at the Goethe Institute of Dhaka, House 10, Road 9 (New), Dhanmondi. The photographs were taken in April 1990 and document the famous "East Side Gallery" of the Berlin Wall where artists expressed themselves freely. The opening will be on 27th at 6 pm.

Early April & Beyond

Tue 3 Apr - Deadline to submit items for next edition of BICN.

Wed 4 April - BWA event, talk on UNFPA (Population Fund) on maternal and child health issues. Email for more info.

Fri 6 Apr - Vocal chamber music concert by Cantemus, Morning Sky, and Expatria at the Armenian Church, Old Dacca at 4pm. Tickets Tk250 adults, Tk50 students, available from Folk Bangladesh, Video Connection, choir members or email Jane Angell at alodhaka@citechco .

Sat 7 April - First day of Passover

Mon 9 Apr - BAGHA Quiz Night.

Thu 12 Apr - International World Beat Night. Tickets on sale at the American Club [I can't figure out where this event takes place! -Ed.]

Thu 12 Apr - Maundy Thursday Service, 7pm at Dhaka International Christian Church (DICC), Korean School, Bashundara

Fri 13 Apr - Good Friday Communion Service, 4:30pm Dhaka International Christian Church (DICC), Korean School, Bashundara

Sun 15 Apr - DICC Easter Sunrise Service, 6am American Club. Bring breakfast dish for sharing afterwards.

Sun 15 Apr - Community Easter Sunrise service, 6am on the steps of the Parliament buildings in Dhaka for all those who would like to join with the churches of Dhaka for the celebration of Easter.

Sat 21 Apr - ARA Club Garage Sale.

Mon 23 Apr - BAGHA Quiz Night.

Fri Apr 27 - The Beat Goes On! DAWC's 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's Night - Many of your Favorites will be There! Diana Ross, Gail Gaynor, Bill Haley and his Comets, Credence Clearwater, Cher, Ray Charles, Janis Joplin, Stevie Wonder, Tina Turner, Jimmy Hendrix and more. Don't Miss it! 8:00pm American Club, Tk 500 entrance, snack, show. Dress: Decade of your Choice. Open to all Expat Card Holders. Photo ID required. Bring Taka cash for bar. No club chits accepted. This is a fundraiser and all proceeds go to local charities.

5-7 May - BUET- UNU International Workshop On Technologies For Arsenic Removal From Drinking Water. Pre-registration is required but there is no fee. For more information and registration form, contact Professor M. Feroze Ahmed, Department of Civil Engineering, BUET, tel 9663693, email ; or Dr. M. Ashraf Ali, Department of Civil Engineering, BUET, tel 8614640/7625, email 

Mid May - BWA Yard Sale 10am-12 noon. An opportunity to sell lots of things especially if you are leaving this summer. Contact BWA to purchase your selling space and whatever you sell is for your pocket. Email for more info.

End of May - BWA musical evening to raise funds for Acid Survivors Foundation. If you wish to contribute your musical skills, let us know. Email for more info.


Bangladesh Youth Federation Website

At .

Bengali Books Online at 

"I take this opportunity to inform you that we're presenting world's first electronic books in Bangla. They are termed as "Boi-boi" (boidyuteen boi). Boi-boi helps Bengalis around the world to get access to Bangla e-books through the net. Kindly visit: and download a free sample book. We'll be obliged if you kindly let your Bengali friends and relatives know about us. Thanks in advance, Subhendu Sen"

[Also, if Bengali font implementation is of interest to you, have a look at this site. It uses a method I have not seen before (and couldn't quite figure out) that, unlike many other Bengali font implementations out there, seems to work very well. - Ed.] 

"Our organization provides free information online to help individuals coming to the United States, whether for business, study, temporary visits, or permanent relocation. Our website includes a variety of useful information, from tax issues and medical briefings to overviews of banking and credit in the U.S. We have a popular guide that helps students who desire to study in the U.S., and we have extensive U.S. visa information that was developed with the assistance of a former official from the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. We provide this information at no cost, and there is no registration requirement (users remain anonymous)." 

[This item was excerpted from The Jute, Vol. 1369, Wed 21 Mar 2001.]

Woman Abroad is a new international English language magazine. Order a trial issue at  .

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.

CAR FOR SALE - 1989 Toyota Corolla (passbook), excellent for running around town, new AC - new clutch - new brakes - new muffler - engine recently serviced. Available early April, only 500/$725. Email 

LODGINGS SOUGHT - American male, 26, seeks furnished apartment/room to rent from March 30 - June 15, 2001, in Gulshan or Dhanmondi areas of Dhaka. Willing to negotiate price. Can live with male/female/family. VERY easy to live with and a non-smoker. Recent MS graduate of the U of Minnesota in Health Informatics and will be working short-term on an immunization/child health project with Management Sciences for Health as an Alexander Fellow. I enjoy exercising, reading, and hiking. Contact: 

ELECTRICAL ITEMS AVAILABLE FOR SALE MID-APRIL 2001: Phillips 21" Television Set: Dual system, Remote with many functions, etc 20 months old 1 ps. Tk 20,000 (US$ 350), Phillips Music Centre: CD, Cassette and FM/AM Radio with remote control (2 years old) 1 ps. Tk 12,000 (US$ 200) Filter Coffee Maker 1 ps. Tk 1,300 Contact: 011 850 408 Svetlana

DRIVER SOUGHT - The ideal candidate would live in Tongi/Uttara, have an H.S.C. education, be very good with children, enjoy work, be honest, encouraging and have great perseverance. If he could do minor repairs to the car as well as driving it carefully, even better. Does this sound like someone you know who is looking for a job? Contact: 

CLEANER/AYAH AVAILABLE - Jasmine has been our cleaner/ayah for the last two years and is looking for another job in early April. She has been cleaning the houses and looking after the children of Concern expatriate staff for many years now and is absolutely superb. Our flat is always immaculate and she also washes clothes, does all of the ironing and is undaunted by endless dirty nappies. She has been looking after our baby son for the last five months and is brilliant with him. She understands and can speak basic English. Jasmine is a pleasure to have around the house with her happy face and cheery nature and we have absolutely no hesitation in recommending her for a similar position. If you are looking for a cleaner/ayah then please let me know by emailing me at 

AYAH/BEARER AVAILABLE - Our ayah has worked with us for 2 years. She was excellent as an ayah, reliable and dependable with the children. She also helped clean, and did other useful jobs round the house during her free time. We recommend her for anyone needing an ayah or bearer. Contact pvries@bangla for more info.

CAT/KITTEN WANTED - "Eleven year old boy is looking for a cat to be his special friend. As his parents are doctors and worry about rabies, the cat will always stay inside. Does anyone out there in Bangladesh cyberspace have an indoor companion cat, neutered/spayed, that they love, but need to give up for some reason? Or if you know of some pretty kittens, let us know that too! Contact Stewart at clmorgan@citechco  .."

DRIVER AVAILABLE - Haque is available for immediate employment. Kindly contact for further information..

WANTED TO BUY - Used Vehicle (Passbook) Have taken off an old car from our personal passbook and would like to purchase a newer, more reliable vehicle for use around Gulshan. Would prefer a larger 4WD Pajero-type but a good sedan would also be acceptable. Will be able to negotiate time of sale, depending on a person's departure date. If you have a vehicle for sale within the next few months, contact Sharlene Meisner at smeisner@ais-dhaka and we might be able to purchase and put on our passbook easily. .

WANTED TO BUY - New or used girl's or boy's bicycle. 24-inch wheel size desired. Single gear or multi-gear. Hand brakes or pedal brakes. Does not have to be in good shape. Will provide it with a good home. Don Schroeder dmsetal@citichco ..

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.

Always Free - 

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Ads cost only USD8 (Tk450) for up to 100 words, half price for repeats booked with the original order. Payment accepted in Taka cash/check, USD cash/check with payment pick up for reasonable Dhaka addresses, or by Credit Card, secure payment on & offline available worldwide!

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