The life and times of a happy go lucky blogger in London
#blogladesh Photos are Untold Stories

Bangladesh is full of vivid colours. It’s easy to be mesmerised by what surrounds you there.

I took this photo from the plane when we landed in Barisal, Bangladesh. We’d flown from Dhaka across waterlogged terrain and landed on water. The blurred images are of the children who ran to meet us, it was quite a sight to behold which soon came in to sharp focus, in more ways than one.

The children grabbed our guiding rope and tried to haul in the plane with herculean effort.

It was a welcome that we never expected, and an experience I will never forget, one of unexpected and joyful mayhem in the monsoon rain and sticky heat.

Nevertheless, it looks like a tug of war doesn’t it? It sums up how I feel about our trip – these children had the strength to move us, not just physically but emotionally, and I still believe very strongly that we can help them if we can just tell their stories and let people know what’s going on.

There were more crowds of children to meet us as we travelled further inland. These two photos are particularly striking. I stood alone waiting for our party to join me and I turned around to see this boisterous group running towards me. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud – their infectious energy and squeals made the long journey worthwhile.

We were visiting a small village to see how the community health workers worked with families. As became usual for the trip, we were allowed to watch the serious work going and meet families who told us how theire children had recovered from serious illnesses, thanks to the support of organisations like Save the Children. And another common theme was being so involved in the moment that it was impossible to take in every detail and thankfully we all had cameras to record what was going on.

You might recognise the energetic youngster who ran to greet me is actually in the photo below.  He’s called Tuhi. It turns out he had recently recovered from a serious illness.  Pneumonia.

And here Save the Children Community Health Volunteer Marzia counts 3-year-old Tuhin’s Respiratory rate with an ARI timer in Bakerganj, Barisal, Bangladesh. It’s a simple counting test to check his breathing rate – he was given the all clear.

As we left, we discussed the cases we had seen and I was told by Dr Ayan from Save the Children that Tuhi’s Mother had lost a child. It was Tuhi’s elder brother did not have access to the same healthcare and his pneumonia, compounded with malnutrition and lack of medicine had been fatal. Hearing that story was like a slap in the face.

Later that evening, when I reviewed the photos I had taken, I noticed this image of  Tuhi and his Mum. I’d not seen the look on her face while we were there – she was on the surface, very serene – and it must have been just for a split second that the camera captured the image. I know that look. It’s grief. It’s deep, unabating pain she bears on her face. It struck me how brave she was to allow us to visit her son and be photographed and how unfair that her other son was no longer alive.  It’s a harsh reality to take on board.  In England all children have access to medical care and medicine free of charge – can you even begin to imagine what would happen if that were taken away?

And that’s why photos are untold stories, until we are allowed to know the details. We went to Bangladesh to make sure the British public is informed and aware.

Save the Children is working to improve health of pregnant women and young children by using its league of 1616 health visitors which cover Barisal and Bhola in Bangladesh.  Each volunteer may have between 150 to 200 households under their care and they visit families regularly. Over time these volunteers become part of an extended family and a sense of trust is developed.  This helps treat many minor illnesses before they become life threatening diseases which are often fatal.

Our Bangladesh visit has highlighted many of the issues that are faced by children and families globally, and we have quickly become intensely aware of what’s at stake.  Bangladesh, unlike Pakistan, is not in the grip of an environmental catastrophe, what we saw is the day to day effect of poverty; disease and death.  Our day to day lives in the UK may seem mundane, but here the price of mundanity is too high to ignore, it’s nothing short of a death sentence.

We need you to put your digital thumbprint on the Save the Children petition.  No money is required, just a few seconds of your time and a couple of clicks:

Please sign Press for Change and help us reach 100,000 sign ups by 20th September to show Nick Clegg that we need him to show  leadership and help us end the scandal of 9 million child deaths a year.  This is where you come in.

All you need to do to sign our petition is give us your thumbprint  and your details.  We’ll hand in the petition to Nick Clegg to send him  on his way to New York and you can make a difference.

EVERY ONE can save a child’s  life, take action now and press for change.

You can also print a PDF petition from the Save the Children web site and take it to your local community, every single one of us can help.

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