As colourful as India, a melange of cultures and religions, Bangladesh defies simple judgement. I found myself in the middle of a busy beehive where people tried by all available means to compensate for the weaknesses of infrastructure and economic problems in order to make their own way.
We travelled to the mountains near Khagrachari to visit preschool and primary school projects. At some point I realised that I saw – for the last hour or so – groups or pairs of schoolchildren on the road, dressed neatly in their school uniforms, books tucked under their arms, proudly and happily walking to school for miles and miles.
In Dhaka, the capital, we met teenagers who went to school and completed a vocational training in addition to their work in households, factories or shops. This qualification enabled them to find a fairly paid job or to found their own business.
In Bangladesh, school or a professional training is like winning the lottery for the children.
After five days in Bangladesh I felt richly rewarded:
• with the overwhelming joy and energy for learning the children have.
• with respect for their achievements and willpower.
• with handmade gifts coming from the heart and which became the most valuable parts of my luggage.
• with humbleness and gratitude for my privileged life at home.
• and with the realisation that everything keeps going on somehow, even if the conditions/roads/financial means seem to have turned into insuperable obstacles.