Lush is still the best word that comes to mind when I think of Bangladesh. Seeing the shades of greens from above to seeing the height and volumes of the greens on the ground was – and is – an amazing and almost mystical experience. It’s been one month since I’ve left home, and about two weeks since I’ve come to Bangladesh as a part of the internship requirement of my Master’s of Public Health (MPH) degree. It’s 9:15am, a Monday, and I’m at the Foundation for Charitable Activities in Bangladesh (FCAB)’s Clinic in Bagdumur. The green here especially evokes that sense of mystical and almost surreal energy – but Bagdumur is very real, and we – Kallisse, Michelle, and myself – have been welcomed to join this space.
A daily routine is slowly being established, but there’s a lot of moving parts and schedule updates that help me practice flexibility and adaptability; it’s a slight spontaneity that I’ve been enjoying. For our time in Sirajganj, Kallisse and I are spending our mornings at the FCAB clinic and our afternoons in the city working out of our room. Kallisse and I are working on a breastfeeding and IYCF promotion with EPI centers project in partnership with the Centre for Women and Child Health Research (CWCH), which is based a few hours away in Ashulia. We’ve been helping inform the study design, data collection methodology, intervention materials, and the monitoring and evaluation of the project. Michelle is working on a separate project focused on vaccine hesitancy.
Speaking of hesitancy… I’ve always been hesitant to work in areas where I am unfamiliar with the language – how much can one contribute if communication is a huge barrier? Yet here I am, in Bangladesh, with just a handful of Bangla words and sentences ready for use. But why I chose to come here, rather than go to India where I have working fluency, is because I’m interested and intrigued by the work currently being done by FCAB – from the community investment to the grassroots organization meetings (GRO), their sanitation project, and to their focus on solar powered energy. But more than that, I’m really interested in seeing how they build and grow and become a sustainable entity. As I continue to experience, reflect, and write, I hope to share more of my experiences with FCAB, the FCAB team, and the other projects I’m working on here.