Stuck in my House – The Heightened Security Situation in Dhaka (Part 2)

— Part 2—

Today I’ll be talking about how the current security situation in Bangladesh is making an impact on my life.  Honestly, it’s a big factor in almost every aspect of my day.  If you missed Part 1, please read through that before clicking on this one (it might be a bit confusing without any context).

So how does the security situation affect my life, you may be asking?


This is the majority of my life in Bangladesh, in my bed, on my computer, and surrounded by a mosquito net.

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Stuck in my House – The Heightened Security Situation in Dhaka (Part 1)

“So, how are you liking Bangladesh?” is a question I hear very frequently.  At least once a week, sometimes multiple times a day.  I am asked by foreign visitors, work colleagues, and friends at home.  It’s a tough question to answer.  I try to have no expectations when I am in a developing country, because it makes for an easier life.  No electricity, no water, nobody who speaks English – no problem, I didn’t expect there to be.  However, one of the expectations I did have was that I would counter challenging situations and I would overcome them.  Situations like bargaining with a rickshaw driver, learning the Bangla words to buys from a local market stall, learning where to go to make friends, and negotiating my role in the office.  I knew I would be challenged, but through overcoming challenges I hoped to grow as a person.  I thought that by the end of this journey I would have seen the 4 corners of Bangladesh, spoke a little Bangla, have a lot of new friends, and a lot of new experiences.  However, it seems that most of these are unlikely to occur….

“Why?” you may ask.  Well, the simple answer is “Due to security concerns…”


News photo from the protest on November 2, 2015.

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Weaving Jute Fabrics: A Trip to Tangail

A few weeks ago I was able to join a short visit to Tangail with some of the board members from the Jute Team in Germany (TARANGO’s German counterpart).  It was really great to see the entire process from dried jute fiber to finished textiles.  These beautiful fabrics are used to make the bags that TARANGO sells.

Tangail is an area that is historically known for dying and weaving fabrics.  They have a lot of experience creating saris (which come in an amazing array of beautiful hues) in the region, which is why TARANGO chose this area for the dying and weaving aspect of the process.  After the fabrics are finished, they are shipped to Dhaka for sewing and assembly into finished products (including beach bags) for sale to foreign markets through our handicrafts program.  This program provides skills and work to impoverished women.  The profits also help to provide approximately 50% of TARANGO’s budget, which goes into providing other services in districts across the country (including a shelter for abused women, training courses, village savings programs, etc.).

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Note: this post contains a lot of pictures (for my slow internet friends) and videos of the same things (for my fast internet friends who want to see how things really work),  Don’t worry, the videos are all super short (like under 10 seconds).

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A Hindu Christmas: Celebrating Puja in Dhaka

One nice thing about my office is that it’s accepting of different religions. Although over 90% of Bangladesh is Muslim, our office has employees who are Muslim, Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist (and maybe more). In Canada I would never really ask someone their religion or talk about it openly unless it came up in conversation. In Bangladesh everyone needs to know what religion you are. In fact, the way you greet people and other words you use can change based on someone’s religion.

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This also means that I get the opportunity to learn about the different religions and the holidays they observe. In Bangladesh there are national holidays for at least 3 different religions (such as Eid, Puja, and Christmas) though they’re usually only a day or two instead of the entire festival.  At the end of October was Puja, a Hindu festival.  According to Wikipedia,

“Puja is the act of showing reverence to a god, a spirit, or another aspect of the divine through invocations, prayers, songs, and rituals. An essential part of puja for the Hindu devotee is making a spiritual connection with the divine.”

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“I hope they don’t hear this at home…” – Keeping risks hidden from friends and family

Life is full of risks.  Period.  Growing up we learn how to cope with the risks around us.

  • Traffic is dangerous, so cross at the lights.
  • Germs are dangerous, so don’t eat food off the floor
  • Strangers are dangerous, so don’t go down dark alleys by yourself

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As we grow up, we learn to accept these risks and no longer consider ourselves in danger when we encounter there situations.  We know how to react, and what to do to keep ourselves safe.  However, much of what we learned is no longer effective when we travel and live in other countries. New risks are everywhere, and even familiar risks become more dangerous because how you are supposed to react changes based on cultural expectations.

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Ok so you’re going to Bangladesh… What is IYIP anyway?

As most of you know, I’ll be in Bangladesh for 6 months working with TARANGO through the IYIP Program. But I’m sure you have some questions…

  • What is the IYIP Program?
  • Who is TARANAGO?
  • What will I be doing exactly?
  • How does Humber fit in?

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This blog aims to answer some of those questions.  However, if you have more questions or something isn’t clear, please feel free to give me a shout so I can clarify and expand on my ideas! :)

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Cruising down the Meghna River – Sundarbans Trip (Part 3)

Bangladesh is really green!  Living in bustling Dhaka, you would never realize how much of Bangladesh is lush.  It was great to get a chance to explore more of the country and see how life is along the river.  Bangladesh is sometimes called the land of rivers, since so much of it’s landmass is criss-crossed by water-ways.  Read further to find out about the last part of my trip to the Sundarbans.

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