Map of Bangladesh

Map of Bangladesh
for more detailed map, scroll to bottom of page

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On Bondage

On Societal Bondage...
Mishor Rema, a 20-year-old Catholic Garo, is the fourth and final son of a couple of cha bagan (tea garden) laborers in Habiganj District, Bangladesh. As a result of inadequate medical attention in their village, both of Mishor’s parents died before he reached legal adulthood.  When he failed his matriculation exam, the pastor of Srimangal parish removed him from the care of his older siblings and in-laws, who already had a total of six children to look after and were unable to provide for him.

Now, as the table boy at the St Joseph church compound (where Kevin and I live), Mishor earns his room, board, and the equivalent of 14 dollars each month, serving in many more capacities than his title would suggest.  He sends more than half of the money he earns to his brothers, two of whom still work in the same tea garden as their parents, and one of whom works halfway across the country in a garment factory.

Many Garo people of Bangladesh have been forced into modern slavery under tea companies.  The Garo, or Mandi as they call themselves, are one of a few tribal groups in Bangladesh, a country that is possibly the most religiously and ethnically homogeneous in the world.  As the extreme minority, Garo people have traditionally fallen victim to severe discrimination.  Now, penned in tea garden villages and given just enough food and shelter to live, they are being stripped, systematically, of their humanity. 

Much of the northeastern region of Bangladesh is fertile for tea production.  This industry requires enormous labor power.  Removed from their lands over the last 50 years by violence, deception, and intimidation, many Garos turn to the tea companies for the promise of steady employment.  Steady employment in a tea garden has come to mean no money, no education, poor medical care, no land to call their own, and worst, no hope for a better future. The tea companies have intentionally secured a perpetually renewable workforce.

After years of effort, Catholic priests in the area have gained concessions from the tea garden managers.  Churches have been built in many tea gardens and Catholic mission schools are now allowed to take children out of the villages. Though there are only enough priests to visit each village once per month and there are not nearly enough schools, at least some Garos will be allowed to choose their own destinies, loosened from the bonds of an unjust society.

On Animal Bondage...

we ate this pig 4 hours later

 we saw this chicken killed 4 hours earlier

 On My Bondage... this shirt; apparently mediums run small in Jalchatra

On Racial Bondage...
Matthew 25: 32- "and he will separate the sheep from the goats"

On Fighting out of Bondage...
the new Bengal Bouts uniform- hard-working lungis

On FREEDOM from Bondage...

but buckle up for safety- even though this is binding in one sense

dancing for joy and singin "Aint No Mountain High Enough" again;
this has become one of the anthems of our trip (indicative of the terrain of Bangladesh)

Just some random stuff since we are now free from bondage...

I call this masterpiece "Water Droplet on Leaf"- courtesy of Father Pongkoj

Yes, rumor confirmed.  Kevin and a Khasi boy were holding hands tonight.
And you can trust that the smile on Kevin's face was just as happy as the boy's

The little one's name is Davidbeckham- no kidding. We've also met Maradona, Brazil, and Argentina- still not kidding.  One Bengali student was even named Julrich- just kidding... but maybe someday

 Beckham's Soccer medals and trophies
(they're really his father's, but it looks like he's of the right pedigree huh?)

da local gangstas (just kidding again)... btw bamboo poles always means construction

further random stuff...
  • The four of us boxers will be united for Independence Day, but only for breakfast- guess we'll have to do fireworks before dawn instead of after dusk
  • Kevin and I will attend a First Holy Communion for 40 kids tomorrow
  • One of the priests here delivered a baby on a motorcycle- once again, not kidding. I need to regain the trust of my audience.

alright th-the-that's all for now, folks. Live free from bondage, but remember to lend a hand to those who might not have a choice.

God Bless,

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