1, Annual Report July 1st 2014 – June 30th 2015
Once again, this report is a synopsis of the year’s main events in the continuing success of BanglaCymru. As you’re aware I send out regular updates via emails, and for those with no access to a computer I enclose hard copies of those updates.
The political situation deteriorated further during the first nine months since my last annual report with weekly general strikes, and worse was the continuous main roads’ blockade that prevented transport and commerce within the country. Scores of people were killed during this period. This affected BanglaCymru’s work seriously during this period when we had to cancel ‘cleft camps’ we had arranged and deprived so many sufferers who could have had their lives changed. However, as the situation improved we were able to treat most of these patients and 204 underwent successful operations.
One of the most exciting initiatives during the last 12 months was the so called ‘medical camps’. This would not have been possible without the two new members of staff, namely Dr Dipa and Mrs Shuleka the health visitor sponsored by Soroptomists, Pontypridd. Since starting on her work in October 2014 Mrs Shuleka had visited nearly 1,400 people in their homes and has arranged for hundreds to attend our medical camps. These medical camps are arranges in very poor areas in the Chittagong Division when Dr Jishu and his staff hold surgeries in locations such as community centres and other tin huts. These are patients who wouldn’t be able to afford to go to the city centre to pay to see a doctor. To date, nearly 500 patients have come to these ‘camps and a few lives saved as a result of this initiative.
In the village of Ranguina, where BanglaCymru established another medical centre there wes a significant development during the year. The provision has proven so successful that we had to look for larger premises. It was a pleasure for me to be invited to open the new premises and a ‘medical camp’ was arranged to celebrate the occasion with 4 doctors who saw an amazing 400 patients durning that day. In the last 12 months almost 2,200 patients visited the centre.
Our centre in Chittagong is a wonderful medical provision for the local disadvantaged population; many of them who work in the dicks, in garments factories, minor industries and many homeless families. During the year 1,200 patients came to see Dr Jishu, our medical co-ordinator and Dr Dipa, our part-time lady doctor.
Gareth Miles’ article in the Welsh magazine ‘Barn’ and recently the article in ‘Golwg’ and three programmes on Radio Cymru together with the grand concert arranged by the Soroptomists in Pontypridd certainly helped to spread the good news about BanglCymru. I’m truly grateful to them all. However, my most important gratitude is extended to you for your continuing generosity and support and hope that you will continue to do so during the next 12 months. BanglaCymru has now reached a truly remarkable mile stone having now performed an amazing 1,016 since 2008!
Diolch yn fawr,
Wil Morus Jones (Chairman and Founder)
Part 2. 2015
It was so sad to see such a politically alarming situation in Bangladesh on my recent 4 week visit to monitor the work of BanglaCymru. The opposition party in their quest to oust the government is calling weekly for a 4/5 day general strike, but worse was their permanent blockade on the main roads and railways. One method the extremists, the Jamaat-e-Islami have of implementing this blockade is to throw petrol bombs at any vehicle daring to defy the blockade. Scores of people have been burnt alive predominantly those travelling in buses, and hundreds more maimed for life by the flames of these fanatics. This situation seriously impaired our plans to travel to three cities to hold ‘cleft camps’.
However, it was good to visit our medical centre in Chittagong daily to see hundreds of patients who came with their various ailments. It was good also to meet our new lady doctor who works part time in our centre in partnership with a health visitor, sponsored by Pontypridd Siroptimists. One new initiative was to take the surgery out to various poor communities. These are called ‘medical camps’. I saw great poverty and indescribable living conditions in the slum area of the city. During the three medical camps I experienced we saw nearly 300 patients suffering with a range of illnesses from the common to the more serious. After pondering over our safety we ventured on the road one Friday (the Muslim’s holy day) to Rangunia where we have another medical centre. It was a great comfort to see that many other vehicles had ventured out that day. We were in Rangunia to open a new building as the original one had become too small. During that day we saw 102 patients. (Mention must be given to the fact that the vast majority of Muslims in Bangladesh are peaceful and friendly.)
The fate of those who broke the blockade | Medical camp in the slums | The first patient in the Borishal ‘camp’.
The prime mission of BanglaCymru which is to give free cleft lip / palate and burn operations is progressing well despite the troubles. Cleft operations were performed in Chittagong during my stay and we gave permission to two surgeons we know and trust; Dr Mannan and Dr Ravi, to perform operations in other cities. A few days after my return to Wales Dr Jishu arranged for BanglaCymru medical team to travel to Borishal predominantly by boat to avoid the barbaric activities of the extremists. It’s a great pleasure to report that 43 cleft patients were given high quality operations there, plus 6 in Chittagong and 16 in Varanasi. The total number of operations since 2008 has now reached 975.
One special feature in the story of BanglaCymru in the last few months was the new initiative of taking our surgery out to poor communities in the Chittagong and Rangunia areas. This exercise is known locally as medical camp. These areas are places where there is no medical provision, and the efforts of BanglaCymru are very much appreciated, giving medical attention to people who can’t afford the money or time to travel to the urban centres to see a qualified doctor. Having free consultation and medication are things that can’t be comprehended by these extremely poor people. During this period the doctors have seen hundreds and hundreds of patients; some of them suffering with serious illnesses and needed urgent medical attention. Some lives have been saved.
Our prime mission, as you know, is to operate on patients with the various cleft conditions and those suffering from severe burns. In addition to treating these patients at our centre and Centrepoint Hospital in Chittagong, our medical team visited various locations such as Varanasi, Tangail and Cox Bazar to hold operating sessions (cleft camps).
In the most southern part of Bangladesh where we held a cleft camp in December a father brought his son; both refugees from neighbouring Myanmar (Burma) to be treated. They had been persecuted for their faith. What hope was there for this young boy to have a normal life in a strange and poor country with such affliction? The two were absolutely delighted with the results of the high quality procedure performed by Dr Jishu. In this part of Bangladesh there’s a United Nations refuge (UNHCR) for these refugees. BanglaCymru has treated others from this refuge in the past.
In the past few months BanglaCymru has performed 56 operations bringing the grand total since 2008 to 1,072.