Sunday, August 2, 2009

Summer Trips – Singapore and Bangladesh - July 2009

Singapore

The trip to Singapore has been successful with a record of 216 bacterial analysis and 58 DNA samples collected in 12 days. The trip was not also successful due a dedicated field assistant Shammi, who was patient to the long days on the field and in laboratory. The work was intense and we were trying to get as many samples as possible within a short time of period. This stretched planning was also depending to the short time that we were allowed to access the laboratory. We only had four days a week. Weekends and hours beyond 6pm were also not allowed. We were working in the most stressful conditions, but glad we managed it accordingly and turned it into an opportunity of getting much done within a short time.

Taking the DNA samples in the field were the most exhausting

On the other hand, the weekends were appropriately used. We visited different touristic sites and did shopping. Shammi had also the time for Taekwondo, her favorite sport. She is really obsessed by this game. You should spend some time with her to see how she is obsessed. If it happens that you have a chance, you will then realize that within five minutes of period, she will at least do a taekwondo move or tell a story about the game. It was fun to working with her. I tested many delicious, but very hot and spiced Muslim dishes. We always had to find a Halal food place. Shammi won’t eat anything else, except Halal. At the end of the Singapore field work, I was an expert of finding Halal food restaurant. I could see a place before shammi sees one. I really had a wonderful time working with her, but we only had 3 weeks …

Shammi taking a sample in the ditch

Bangladesh Trip

At the end of the sampling field work in Singapore, I traveled to Bangladesh and similarly Shammi did. She was visiting her parents. She gave me all the contacts number possible just in case I have troubles in Bangladesh and needed help. She was really very helpful and it happened that my credit card was not working with the ATM machines in Dhaka, and then I used the address she gave to call her family for help. They assisted and provided me with the budget I need to use in Dhaka. I am very grateful to them, what they did mean a lot me. I remember being told that the ATM machine will work and I should not worry about anything, but at that time it did not, I realized that I did a mistake of not taking cash with me.



Shammi showing me her favorite Taekwondo kick

I remember how my imagination about Bangladesh was very interesting before the trip. I kept myself away from Google map and avoid visualizing any picture that could show me how Dhaka looks like before being there. I arrived around 1pm, after a night delay in Malaysia. When I land at Dhaka International airport, I realized that my imagination were wrong. I saw many people standing on the fence of the main airport entrances and wondered if there was a struck in Dhaka. I have not seen many people at the airport like I did in Dhaka. They were certainly not waiting for anybody just looking. The hotel driver, who came to pick me up at the airport, showed me the way to the car and he drove me to the Hotel. On the way to the hotel, I was surprised by a high number of people walking on the street “Many people on the street, many people”. I stated wondering where those people were going, and kept the question for Shammi just since we were to meet in Dhaka. When we meet she told me that you can what location they are going too, is just due to the high number of population in Dhaka (10million people). Dhaka is very dirty, very dirty. Being there pushed me to realize how Kigali, the capital of Rwanda is clean. I have ever been in a dirty city like Dhaka. After visiting Kampala, I thought it was the dirtiest place in the world, but I realized that Dhaka is also in the same class. It was really a wonderful experience. I was totally a foreign and everybody on the street was looking at me. I could not go outside of the hotel without a translator.

I was also sad seeing street kids, poor people who are really miserable, others who have houses on the top of the river, small kids swimming in polluted water. It was terrifying. I remember seeing similar situation after the period of war in Rwanda. When I think of 10million people in Dhaka, I immediately see how the demographic problems do affect developing countries. I am glad people are still alive in Bangladesh; even the live conditions for the poor are still very unhealthy. When some African countries are mentioned to be poor, Asia countries like Bangladesh should also not be forgotten. What African countries and African people lack is the willingness to achieve and realize big dreams, develop schools with excellent reputation and at high stands and having the desire of working abroad. The GDP of Bangladesh is nearly the double of Rwanda GDP. As I have seen Bangladesh, the only different between the two countries is based on business mind. The Bangladesh people are business minded, but Rwandan are still behind in understanding the market complexity and business models. Let us hope the best in coming years, as Rwanda economy is progressing growth at a reasonable scale. .

video

LifeEngine Clean Water Project

LifeEngine Clean Water Project
Testing Water Filtration Technology in Bisate Village