After spending three weeks in Bangladesh it’s good to report that the political situation with all its blockades and strikes has stabilized. However, the word ‘stability’ wouldn’t be the word to describe the night we had an earthquake there. That was a quite frightening experience! One situation which has worsened substantially recently is the travelling situation to our centre. Venturing on the roads now between the city centre and the docks area where our centre is situated is now a very terrifying drive. One has to experience the journey to comprehend the hell on the Chittagong roads. On average, the three mile journey takes an hour, but worse than that is my concern for Dr Jishu, BanglaCymru’s medical co-ordinator’s safety. This means that we have to reconsider a few matters such as moving the location of our centre here in Chittagong. I will keep you updated on the matter.
I’m glad to report that BanglaCymru’s work is progressing well. Our two centres are deeply appreciated by the communities; and the initiative started on my last visit of taking the centre to the slum areas is very successful. During my stay we held two ‘medical camps’ in Chittagong and the other in Rangunia where we have our village medical centre. The standard of living in these communities is appalling with no medical or sanitation provisions. Being seen by a qualified doctor and having basic medication free of charge on their door step is something difficult for them to comprehend. Scores of patients were seen during these sessions including some needing urgent medical attention.
Staff of our main centre. Two families of 3 generations so happy following the operations
Two cleft operation sessions took place but one was abandoned due to an unexpected situation at Chittagong Medical College. However, soon after my departure Dr Jishu will arrange two further sessions in different locations. A total of 16 operations were performed in the last couple of months to bring the total since the start of the project to 1088.
Part 2 Annual report July 2015 – June 2016
It gives me pleasure to present to you the annual report on the work of BanglaCymru during the past twelve months. I’m glad to report this time that the political situation is slowly improving without many incidents of strikes, civil disobedience or blockades that killed so many innocent people and that impaired the work of our charity. However, recently we were all shocked with the massacre of foreigners perpetrated by ISIS in Dhaka, and individual assassinations based on deluded ideology.
The initiative of going out to the poorest areas to hold what’s called ‘medical camps’ is still a great success. To arrange these surgeries the role of Mrs Shuleka is crucial. She is our health visitor who is sponsored by Soroptomists Pontypridd. She visits homes in the various communities to inform them about the forthcoming camp where two doctors and a nurse will be there with free basic medicine. Sometimes these camps are held in somebody’s house, a community centre or out in the open air. Between the two centres we run; one in the city of Chittagong and the other in Rangunia, have seen hundreds of patients and have saved many lives. We are very grateful to Dr Jishu, our medical co-ordinator for his work.
One problem facing us presently is the location of our main centre in Chittagong. I mentioned in my recent online update following my visit to Bangladesh in March/April that Dr Jishu’s journey to the centre had become increasingly dangerous from week to week. I spent some time with him looking at a new location, and I’m pleased to report that we found the ideal location in a very poor part of the city. This does not mean that we will turn our backs on the previous area because we have decided to hold medical camps there from time to time. On June 20th we found a perfect building which we could afford to buy in the new area and a price was agreed. Unfortunately however, following the fall of the pound after the referendum the price increased by £6,500+ and unfortunately we had to withdraw from the purchase. We are still looking and hoping that you will all agree that we need our own place and not depend of the whims of landlords as what happened over the last three years.
As you’re aware, the main mission of BanglaCymru is to offer treatment to patients suffering with cleft lip or/and palate and also patients who have suffered serious burns. During the last year we performed 107 operations which give us a total of 1,123 since the establishment of the charity. Their gratitude is boundless for giving them new lives in this challenging country.
The end of 2016 was a very busy time for BanglaCymru when ‘cleft camps’ were arranged in three hospitals in various parts of Bangladesh. It’s often difficult to plan ahead because we depend on hospitals that know about our work to contact us, and also depend on the registered patients to turn up on specified days.
One sad factor that recently affected badly on BanglaCymru’s finances was the decision to leave the European Union. As a result of the pound falling in its value by approximately 18% against the taka (Bangladesh currency) every operation now costs almost £200. We were also disappointed after finding the ideal building for our new medical centre and agreeing on a price, but the cost spiralled within a few days of the referendum. However, we have now secured a suitable place leased for five years.
As a consequence of our decision to move our medical centre in Chittagong, much work has been carried out already to prepare the way in our new area. Our health worker, sponsored by the Soroptomists had been assiduous getting to know the new area and its people, and spreading the news that a new and free medical centre will open at the beginning of the new year. Dr Jishu held one open air surgery in the new area some weeks ago. We’re all looking forward to the opening ceremony of the new centre.
Dr Jishu held a ‘cleft camp’ in two hospitals in the south of Bangladesh at the beginning of December. During this period 11 cleft operations were performed. Then, towards the end of the month a cleft camp was arranged for three days in Tanglail, a city in the middle region of the country where BanglaCymru has worked in the past. Dr Jishu and his medical team worked relentlessly from early morning until late night to perform 50 cleft operations. One story that touched many hearts was the young orphan boy who walked miles to the hospital after hearing the news about BanglaCymru and approached Dr Dishu himself to ask for an operation on his deformed face. He, as well as the other 49 patients will now have a new and normal life in this challenging country. To date BanglaCymru has performed a total of 1,184 operations since the setting up of the charity.
The operating theatre The orphan boy before and immediately after his operation.