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Monday 30th August 2010

Climbing the stairs to the ward at Addin Children’s hospital in Dhaka, it was hard to prepare myself for what I might see. Sick children I guessed, but already this was like no hospital I had ever been to.


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Above

Sunday 29th August 2010 – London Heathrow, UK, to Dhaka, Bangladesh (via Doha, Qatar)

WE’RE HERE!

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Keep up to date with our Blogladesh trip by following my blog’s RSS feed and by following me on Twitter. Don’t forget to read my team-mates blogs too – Sian at Mummy Tips (@mummytips), Eva at NixdMinx (@nixdminx) and Liz from Save the Children (@lizscarff and @SaveChildrenPR)

And MOST IMPORTANTLY make sure you come and sign our petition and Press for Change.


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Click. I Dare You.

It’s so easy not to click isn’t it? Or just to look away. Look at something else, something easier. I do it so much.

I’m suddenly realising that I’m not going to be able to look away in a week. And I’m also realising that for once I don’t want to.

You know why? Because yes, there is pain and suffering, almost too much to bear but there is also HOPE! There is HOPE.

So watch this. Even if it’s hard. Because sometimes tragedy doesn’t need to be depressing. Sometimes it can inspiring, and motivating and challenging. Sometimes it can make you proud to be a human being, because we carry so much power, we do. Yes, power to hurt, but more importantly power to heal and to love and to implement amazing change.

YOU can be a part of that. We all can.

Click. I dare you.

Sign our petition. That’s a start, isn’t it?

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Keep up to date with all the Blogladesh developments by following my blog’s RSS feed and by following me on Twitter. Don’t forget to read my team-mates blogs too – Sian at Mummy Tips (@mummytips), Eva at NixdMinx (@nixdminx) and Liz from Save the Children (@lizscarff and @SaveChildrenPR)

If you represent Press or PR and would like more information about or trip or to find out ways you can get involved, please contact me here.


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One Week

I am sat looking at a pile of stuff and to be honest? I’m a little bit scared. I have every kind of mosquito repelling product under the sun, a hat that Indiana Jones would be proud of and some boots to cope with the muck and rubbish of the Bangladeshi slums and mud. My arms are still a bit sore from all the disease-preventing injections and I have a big visa stamp in my passport.

One week today I shall be sat on a plane, along with Sian and Eva, half way across the other side of the world, flying to Bangladesh for a week viewing Save the Children’s work with mothers and children in one of the most poverty-stricken places on the planet.

This is really, really happening.


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Welcome back to your Writing Workshop!

At the bottom of this post you’ll find the widget to link up your posts. It’s open till Sunday so don’t worry if you haven’t had chance to join in just yet – there’s lots more time.

I’ve chosen prompt number three – Pay attention to a stranger you meet this week or observe, and write about them.

This is actually a piece of writing I did a little while ago. I actually spent a month earlier in the year sitting on benches every Friday doing nothing but writing about the people I observed there. It was a great project, before a busy schedule got in the way. I should add some more to it really. I posted a few of them on secret out-of-the-way blog that was only read by a couple of people. This piece was my favourite. I think it deserves a second airing…

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The man stands with feet planted firmly, swaying slightly as he sings. His unfocused, strangely wandering eyes, looking unseeingly at a spot in front of him, give away his blindness before the white stick does. Strangely not the long, thin cane you would expect, but a standard, wooden walking stick with the shaft painted white with house paint. The tip rests protectively in the large Tupperware box at his feet in which lie his collections for the day, to prevent, I guess, some unscrupulous person disappearing with his spoils. He is busking. Without soundtrack; without accompaniment; without explanation: just a lone, quiet voice in the winter afternoon.

He is, I estimate, in his early seventies: average build, average height, looking slightly huddled in his winter coat. His face is lined, his eyes dark and expressionless. He looks slightly lost, and very, very alone. His posture never changes: one hand on his walking stick, the other held stiffly at his side. He does not look unkempt or neglected, a hint of a shirt and tie peeping out over the undone button of his coat. He may not be able to see but he obviously takes great pains with his appearance. His leather shoes are polished; his hair combed and trimmed short; his face clean shaven. It is obvious to me that he is a man with pride, in himself and in his voice. His voice is not strong or impressive, but he holds the tune and sings with a quiet confidence, never faltering on a note or a stumbling on a word.

He is singing ‘Bright Eyes’ by Simon and Garfunkel, and the irony of this makes me want to weep. I wonder how he lost his sight: he strikes me as someone who was once a seeing man.

Passers-by largely ignore him; some risking a more lingering look and a puzzled, or in some cases, more scornful, glance. One elderly lady pauses in front of him, only to remove a soggy tissue from her sleeve and blow loudly and unceremoniously into it before moving off again. The occasional coin is thrown without comment into his collection box, the ‘clink’ causing him to stop and thank the empty air in front of him, before he picks up the thread of the song from right where he left off.

Verse flows seamlessly into verse, song into song, barely pausing between the finish of one and the start of the next.  I faintly recognise some, but, for the most part, they come from a time long before my own. A time of 50’s glamour and music hall, of Las Vegas swing and rat packer’s croon. He is word perfect and sings, of course, from memory, without prompt or reminder: a seemingly endless repertoire.

Periodically, between songs, he pauses and breaks his pose to gentle tap his cane in the pot of coins, testing their number, before finding, it seems, their total lacking, and embarking on another song.

Why is he there? For the extra money? I wonder perhaps whether it is for an audience after an age of isolation, singing into unreciprocating emptiness of home. I wonder at his story, what brought him to this place and this time, to be begging for coins outside a gaudy department store window display. I wonder if there is anyone out there, thinking of him, worrying about him.

He seems immune to the cold wind biting at my fingers and finding its way under my clothes to chill my skin, his stamina far greater than mine as I pack up my notebook to find warmth and caffeine. His hands are bare and white and I am suddenly struck by the urge to go and buy the man a pair of woollen gloves and press them into his hands before rushing away. But I remember he is a man of pride, and a man of intelligence given his capability for memory, and I have no wish to offend, so settle with a dropped pound coin and quiet ‘take care’ as I move past, the sound of his song echoing after me in the fading light:

“There’s a high wind in the trees,
A cold sound in the air,
And nobody ever knows when you go,
And where do you start,
Oh, into the dark.

Bright eyes,
burning like fire.
Bright eyes,
how can you close and fail
How can the light that burned so brightly
Suddenly burn so pale?

Bright eyes.”

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Writing Workshop Badge

So now it’s your turn. What prompt did you choose?

1. Tell the story of a first kiss
- suggested by Snaffles Mummy and her post about little Snaffle’s first kiss this week

2. “Between the cracks”
- Suggested by Chris at Thinly Spread

3. Pay attention to a stranger you meet this week or observe, and write about them.
- suggested by Kate of the Five F’s blog who’s been guest posting over at The Blog Up North about a little girl she met.

4. Write about something you struggled to let go of.
- Inspired by Mummy Limited who did something for the last time this week.

5. Lucky
- Inspired by my friend Heather at Young and Younger and her awful scare this week.

Leave your name and the URL to your post in the MckLinky below (the URL should be to your post not just to your blog) and leave me a comment to let me know you’ve taken part. If you have the time it would be great if you could try and read and comment on at least two other entries. And be kind! It’s supposed to be a bit of fun – we’re not looking for the next Booker Prize winner here.

If you haven’t had chance to respond yet, then you’ve still got till Sunday to enter your link! Or just wait till next week, when there’ll be five brand new prompts to get you thinking.

This Writing Workshop is brought to you in association with Mama Kat’s Losin’ It – who’s lovely author came up with the concept and runs her own workshop over in the U.S.


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