Here is the second blog post I wrote for East Side Church of God while we were in Bangladesh.
Today I was forever changed. A year ago in February Pastor Mark made an urgent request at church for children in Bangladesh. There had been a fire in the slum area where most of the children live who are part of the Compassion International program that Tapan Borman leads. I remember the pictures. I remember feeling sadness that hundreds of families lost everything. I think I may have even put some cash in the offering plate that day. But then I left church, went about my daily life, and forgot.
Last summer, Tapan came to the U.S. to attend the Church of God Convention in Oklahoma City. Then he attended IYC (International Youth Convention) with East Side youth and came back to Anderson for several days. He came to our house for dinner to talk about Bangladesh and the trip that was beginning to take shape. Mark asked some questions about the area where the fire took place, and I was reminded of the pictures and the way East Side helped. But Tapan left that evening, I went back to life, and forgot.
Fast forward to today, Wednesday, April 29, 2015. Here I am, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. We visited the Compassion International site and saw beautiful children. Then Tapan asked if we wanted to see the slums where these children live. Of course we said yes.
On our way there, Mark explained that this is the area where the fire destroyed so many homes last year. As he talked, I recalled the pictures, the stories. Then we arrived.
We turned down this “street,” and the right side was filled with store fronts. It was explained that behind these were houses. We looked down an alley that was not more that 2-3 feet wide. There were homes as far as I could see. Is it any wonder a single fire destroyed so many when they are so close together?
We went down one alley, and suddenly were greeted by children, most of whom are part of the Compassion program. I looked in a home and was overcome by the living conditions. The room was small and dark. There was one bed and an area to cook; then I noticed a ladder off to the side, so there was an area upstairs as well.
I know there are worse places in the world. I haven’t seen those places. I have seen this one. And I have a connection here – East Side helped these people by providing funds to meet their immediate needs when they lost everything. It was surreal as I stood there and children gathered. The homes are so close, the “streets” are dirt, but the children were smiling. The mothers were proud. I was overwhelmed with emotion.
The children followed us to the bus. One boy, who had been by my side since the beginning, said, “I Bangladesh! What you?” I told him I’m American, but he just kept repeating “I Bangladesh!” He is so proud. Then I turned and saw a beautiful little girl about the size of my daughter. I greeted her and asked her name. Biti. She asked mine, and I told her. Her face is engrained in my memory. And I will never forget.