25 August 2008

where, oh where...

Good news! On Thursday, in the middle of Tropical Storm Fay's extended stay in our town, the FedEx guy arrived in the pouring rain to deliver my passport, complete with a newly affixed visa on one of its pages.

Now, since the plane tickets have been purchased, and my visa is in hand, I feel like I'm officially on my way next month. Ok, ok...so "where, oh where" you ask, am I going?

...to a country relatively the size of Illinois, but with a population of about 1/2 of the entire US, and a larger count than all of Russia (which is 120 times its size), making it the most densely populated country in the world
...to a country where most people live at extreme poverty, averaging GDP around $1,800/yr
...to a place which houses the world's largest mangrove forest, and even endangered species like the Bengal Tiger
...to a country that is constantly threatened by floods, monsoons, and cyclones
...to a country that is encapsulated by an extensive system of rivers and deltas

I'm headed to Bangladesh.

This will be my first time into this section of the globe, and I'm very much looking forward to it, albeit a bit nervous. I'm meeting a group of people there who have been doing humanitarian/missions work there for a few years now in a very tangible way. I will be helping with food/clothes distribution, refugee work at camps from the Myanmar typoon back in May, helping with basic medical tasks, and teaching English as a second language. Basically, getting to know some of the beautiful people who live in the coastal regions of southern Bangladesh, and helping out and showing love in whatever way I can.

Another friend of ours, who lived in St. Augustine for a while, and his fiance are living in the capital city of Dhaka, and are working on international studies, addressing the poverty situation in many of the rural areas of the country. So, I'm getting to meet up with them as soon as I fly in, which will be a great welcome to an unknown place for me. They're going to take me shopping for proper clothing when I get there, as well as serve as a translator and also accompany me the next day down the coast to where I'll meet the rest of the group.

...oh, and if you want to confirm my statement about the people in Bangladesh being "beautiful", take a look at my friend's Flickr page!

In doing research about the country, and people, I came across the website of a project called UnCultered. It's mainly the work of a grad-student, Shawn, who heard a presentation about poverty at Notre Dame, and decided that he could do something about it, so he moved to Bangladesh and has been there a year now doing great work. He posts a lot of videos on YouTube as well.

The friend I mentioned earlier, also connected us from RosaLoves to a couple stories of need in Bangladesh, including the The Sharkar Family and the Child Development Center in Baje Amli. Go visit the site to read the stories (and even buy a shirt to help the cause).

Since I'm traveling alone, I thought it would be nice to split it up, so by fanagling the plane ticket situation, I got a couple days stop-over in Italy both going and coming for the same price as a straight ticket. It will be nice to regroup half way around the globe. :) I'll definitely be writing more as the time approaches for departure...but for now, I'm doing a lot of praying and preparing of my heart, mind, and spirit.


erynchandler said...

oh my.....i'm anxious to go to google maps as soon as i finish commenting to see where exactly bangladesh is.

you're so very brave and i commend your genuine and loving spirit!!!

maybe i didn't read carefully enough, but for how long are you going?

and in which spots of italy will you be staying on the way there and on the way back?!?!?!

i can't wait to read and see all about this new experience of yours.

please oh please take as many pictures as possible!

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

That sounds exciting! Yes, how long are you going?

And where are you stopping over in Italy? Maybe we'll see each other?

Monika said...

Erin, will you have a chance to blog while you are there? (probably not). I can't wait to read about all your amazing experiences you are going to have over there....

Roam2Rome said...

That's incredibly amazing!

I totally like people like you ...one who gets up and goes, follows her heart and lives a life well lived, helping others as you help yourself :)

katerinafiore said...

first and foremost you are a fabulous lady! pretty much just ditto to what everyone else said about you on here. I love you spirit and willing to try something new. You are great!!! if you are coming to Florence, please oh please let me know....u have my number.

janie said...

What a wonderful, selfless thing you are doing. I can't wait to hear about it. And to have some time in Italy-the perfect start and end to your adventure.

Tina said...

Chica! That's great!

That was one of my guesses because at the end of one of your posts you said "Bidai!"

How long are you going?

Ice Tea For Me said...

Sounds like a trip of a lifetime, you will come home a changed person. My prayers will be with you; safe travels.

Can't wait to hear about all the people you've touched and those that touched you. God speed.

Karen Cole said...

What an incredible journey it looks like you will have. As they say, life should be an adventure or nothing at all.

Have safe travels, Erin.

I love your photos of Fay.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Erin have a safe trip.

I look forward to hearing more about the work you will be doing there.

Let me know if you connect through Rome.

erin :: the olive notes said...

eryn: i'm flying into Rome and training to Umbria and Florence for the first part, and probably staying in Rome at the end...oh, and I'll take lots of photos :)

sara: I'll be gone about 3 weeks. I wish we could hang out...but i'm only going as far north as Florence

monika: probably not, but who knows...if not, I'll have lots of posts when I get back

rome2rome: thank you so much for the kind words :)

katie: I will definitely let you know when I'm in town

janie: yes, it is a lovely beginning and end

tina: YAY! I wondered if you'd guessed it right. Have you been there?

ice tea: thank you for the prayers. I will need it!

karen: I love that saying. (Oh, those photos were from our online paper as I put in the caption...I wish they were mine though ;))

arlene: I definitely want to hang out in Rome...I'll send you an email soon.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

How very brave, but a very worthwhile cause. My prayers will be with you. I am sure that everyone you meet will be extremely happy to have you around. You will be spreading your love!

I really must get over my fear of flying on my own...just reading about it, sends fear right through me.

'A Tuscan view.....from Umbria' said...

Yay! I'm so pleased Erin, pleased because we get to see you again and pleased because you're out there doing it! Now we just have to calm ol' Dillon down.

qualcosa di bello said...

i am so psyched for you & this adventure & your spirit of love!! it will be pure joy to follow your journey. i can't wait to visit some of the links you provided too. glad fay has finally left your poor, beautiful city alone!

Cherrye at My Bella Vita said...

OMG, how fun!! I can't wait to hear about it!

My Mélange said...

Sounds great Erin!

I am sure Bangladesh will never be the same again after your visit ;)