Why I joined RestlessBeings?

I’ll start of with a quick “about me” I love collecting stamps – the travelling kind! Who wouldn’t be proud to show of a well travelled passport with all the wonderful stories that come with it?! I also adore children (not the bratty kind!) and god willing plan to have my own one day until then I have my adorable nephews and nieces to keep me occupied. Some day I’ll be a story teller and tell them of my travels but for now let me tell you my story.

Bangladesh is one of the smallest and poorest of countries, though in my opinion it has some hidden treasures in terms of some truly stunning places and the people are warm and welcoming – if you ever go travelling there take along ‘The Lonely Planet Guide to Bangladesh’ and it won’t be long before you stumble across some of these great places. I’m writing about my memories from my last trip to Bangladesh in January 2006, which marked the final leg of my tiring and exhaustive yet amazing solo tour of the Far East and South East Asia. Rest assured that will be my one and only solo trip, as I have got married since and now I have my permanent travel buddy!

One of the first things I noticed about Dhaka is the traffic and chaotic scenes outside in the airport vicinity - the poor trying to target the international passenger, vying for your hard earned pound or dollar. Some begging, some offering porter services, taxis etc. Ofcourse like any other city, there are some beautiful places and very well developed areas where the super rich and powerful live. But you don’t have to travel far before you get into the poorer districts where there is wide spread poverty and the substandard quality of living, likened with Hong Kong, where the rich and the poor live side by side in some places.

During my travels, I experienced a wide array of emotions, the highs and the lows. You would truly have to be heartless and without a conscience to be apathetic to the plight of the poor – it can be emotionally draining. My strong connection with children meant that I found it particularly distressing seeing children as young as 2 or 3 walking the streets with their siblings/families scavenging and begging for food, raiding dustbins (other people’s rubbish for crying out loud!) looking for whatever bits of food they can get their hands on, chances are that’s the only thing they’ll be eating on any given day. My affinity towards children is because many of them are helpless and vulnerable and can’t fend of for themselves and it’s seeing the children living like that which really gets to you especially if you have young children of similar age in your family whether they are your own children or your nephew/niece, that’s when it really hits home, makes you think it could have been one of our children, It could just as easily have been any one of us in an alternate reality.

When I heard of Restless Beings and what they stood for and the fact that the first project is working with the street children in Dhaka, I did not have to think twice to get involved especially having witnessed first hand the problems there. The thing is I know some people think “I want to give to my own people” the truth is the geopolitical borders do not exist in terms of poverty or to the needy, try explaining that to a young child! The children are the helpless innocent victims of circumstance, they are all our children and we have a duty to protect them by whatever means we can.

We are in the Muslim holy month of Ramadhan; it is a time for reflection and generosity and for encouraging empathy and compassion for others, especially those less fortunate than ourselves - the poor and the vulnerable around the world. Although the month of fasting comes by once a year, for many of the poor, they endure fasting almost every day of the year! Those who fast will no doubt know what it feels like to have an empty rumbling stomach and the hunger pangs that just do not seem to go away at times, yet we are not too concerned as we have the luxury of knowing that, as soon as the sun sets, we can break our fast and devour into a lavish meal. What about the luxury of the poor? They don’t know if and when they will be having their next meal! What about their lavish meal? They will be lucky if they have a plate of rice which they will share with the rest of the family!

It isn’t possible for all of us to go and work as aid workers – I wish I could, I would love to do that some day – but for now we can do the next best thing which is to provide financial help via organisations like Restless Beings who have the necessary resource in place. We should all give and encourage others to give whatever amount is within our means, no matter how big or small as every penny counts.

By Yousuf Goni – RestlessBeings Community Relations Officer