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Christine Galipeau - Blog Post 4: It’s Closing Time

Christine Galipeau - Blog Post 4: It’s Closing Time

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I did things today that I would never do in Canada. At the market, I bought a Salwar Kameez for a child domestic worker in my building. After finding a great deal for the Salwar Kameez, I bought some freshly picked local olives and headed back home. Walking around in Dhaka in late November is like walking through dust clouds; there hasn’t been rainfall for weeks now. When I arrived home, I washed the desert off my feet, giving them the usual rigorous scrub. After that, I made some masala tea prepared no less with tea from the Sreemangal estates, condensed milk, and spices. I proceeded to sit on the rooftop of my building and thought about the politically induced demonstrations (hartals), and secretly cursed them as they interfere with many aspects of life in this country. As the elections are drawing near, hartals and blockades have been announced on a regular basis. The brutality associated with hartals is unnerving to say the least. Senseless violence is occurring in the streets of Dhaka, and throughout all of Bangladesh. The forms of violence and disruption that hartal supporters use range from Molotov cocktail blasts, setting vehicles on fire, derailing trains, and openly using firearms on innocent people. It’s not like this is a far away problem; people that work in close proximity to me have been affected by these odious hartals. For instance, my coworker and his pregnant wife were victims of a Molotov cocktail blast. As a result, the baby was born prematurely, and in a fragile condition for at least a week. Thankfully, it seems that the worst is over now: the new family have been given a second chance.  Still, others are not so lucky. 

While I knew that political instability would increase in Dhaka as my internship progressed, I did not know what to expect. I was told to stay away from crowds, which is good advice; however, hartal supporters also come to you. This has forced me to become a lot more aware of my surroundings and people when I walk to work or go the market.  Admittedly, I don’t quite relax until I reach home.

 As, I am approaching near the end of my internship, I know that I will miss the people that I have developed relationships with. I will miss them with all my heart, and I will worry about them when I am gone. I want them to be healthy, to be safe, and to reach the apex of their dreams. In a place where unscrupulous politics heighten instability and violence, dreams can tumble down in a matter of moments. Nevertheless, if there is one thing that Bangladeshis have reminded me, is that you have to keep going, and must keep trying-no matter what hardship life can bring. I can’t say for certain whether I am a changed person as a result of this internship. It may be too early to say. What I do know is that I tried to keep an open mind and welcome the teachings that Dhaka had in store for me. I learned many lessons during my time here. Some things I resolved, others remain a conundrum for me. But if there is one thing that I have come to further comprehend, is that our world is strangely complicated by the value we invest in appearances. The appearance of a gesture, as opposed to how that gesture may translate into reality or the human imagination. Discerning that fine line between appearance and reality is necessary in any type of work-especially in the human rights or development sector. In brief, I have learned that building trust in the spirit of respect is the birthplace of substantive ideas. Without trust or respect, reality is at stake and appearances tend to prevail.