Second diary entry for the Disability Awareness Documentary Project in Bangladesh

We are now seriously on to the job of raising the standards of the film group. I doubt if any of them actually own a TV. Riaz, Sobiha and Ruma do have access to one but Mina the leader of the group doesn’t Since TV is pretty much their only way of seeing film that is quite a problem. The management team said yesterday that they would remedy it, which brought a light to Minas eye. It will help hugely, since we keep saying their work must be good enough for TV.

Today is my day to shine! I’m doing a workshop for the group on ‘verticals and horizontals’. Horizontals I discover are very unreliable! A table top or the top of a wall or a door frame is only horizontal if you look at it from head on (ie. at 90o). From any other angle it will slope up or down – as the Renaissance painters discovered and called it ‘perspective’. Fortunately verticals are more reliable and remain vertical. in most positions (tho’ not all). I think Rafad, our wonderful translator and manager/facilitator would have helped make it clear to the students.

By the end of the session each student had three short clips on their personal tape. It was a very satisfactory start and I discover how much I like working with them. They are really splendid. Very keen. Very cheerful. Very good natured. And all of them with very severe disabilities. Minu is the one full time film employee, paraplegic and in a wheelchair, Ruma has very severe rheumatoid arthritis and also hip replacements following a road traffic accident. She is a Receptionist in the main hospital reception area; Sobiha is the Deputy Manager at Gonokbari, a residential women’s training project. She is also in a wheelchair as a result of spinal injury. Riaz, the one man in the group, is indispensible not just because he is very kind and gracious but because he has no mobility problem. His problem is the congenital lack of a hand.

Thursday is a half day (and Friday day off) . I arranged to meet Sandra and Ester, Two English OT students to go to Savar Bazaar (local shopping mall), missed them but went anyway. What an utterly incredible melee! Shops, stalls, people, rickshaws, animals, cars, beggars, children, all jostling, shouting, hooting, blarring (well, not the shops). I came home by rickshaw with a humdinger of a headache and six little bags of beads and sequins.

The evening is almost unbearably hot and oppressive. It rained heavily earlier in he day. Whatever happened to the end if the monsoon and the cooler weather?

Today is a holiday. I woke very early feeling incredibly limp. A long reflective spell and quiet cups of tea helped. Visited Poppy and her new husband. They were still in bed which was a bit of a blunder on my part since their one room is everything –living, dining and bed room. The kitchen and bathroom are separate. It was good to meet Masu tho’, he is an impressive young man with a shy and beautiful smile, despite or perhaps because of his very difficult past life. Visited Poppy which didn’t cheer me up much.

So many enormous problems here almost all related to poverty

Later I got my sketch book out and started to draw. I must do more. It’s tricky. We work most of the day and it’s dark by six.

In the afternoon we had a lovely walk, out through the village and along the river looking for the village where ‘Radio Bhai’ was filmed. We didn’t find the village but had a lovely time. The heavens opened on us several times. One time I was a bit behind the others and a lady beckoned to me to shelter with her and her children in the goat shed – a tiny shed, Perhaps a metre high containing her wood store a pile of bricks, two goats, six children, her and me. It was a privilege and I learned Bengali words for puddle, stream, drip, rain, thunder and others, all of which I have now sadly forgotten.

We had a short Christian service with Poppy in the evening where Elspeth and I excelled ourselves singing and poppy laughing.

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