"I am sure that most people reading this will be aware that this year we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the opening of The Sreepur Village in 1989. So I thought I would talk to you a bit about how we reached that moment.
From 1982 until 1989 we worked with our predecessor organisation (Families for Children) to consider and then implement the practicalities of creating The Sreepur Village. There was a great amount of effort put in to raising the money as well as the viability of working with a lawyer, engineers, an architect and other professionals to design and build the village.
There is no way to adequately thank the BA crew who brought out the things that the mothers and children greatly needed at this time which included items for the new buildings. Also the incredible response of the people across the country when the ‘The Visit’ documentary about our efforts was broadcast. This enabled us to upgrade from mud construction huts to permanent brick structures - we were able to build a much better village environment than we had expected.
British Airways provided the professional expertise free of charge and a Bangladesh construction company called Nirman built it at cost price. A field in the middle of no-where with a mud road became a ‘village’ for several hundred people. It is amazing that all these years later the buildings are still in great condition and the weathering adds to their appeal. The sense of being in a village is stronger than ever. For many of the families that come to us its the first time they have lived somewhere safe and in a supportive community. The durability of the buildings may be common in the UK but the weather and issues with construction materials make it astonishing in rural Bangladesh.
Then we had a responsibility, to all the people who had helped bring this together, to make sure we were offering the best service possible to the mothers and children. A challenge that is ongoing to this day! We brought up the older children first then, until things were settled, the very tiny ones could safely join us. Initially there were plenty of hiccups - most children were very travel sick on their way up from Dhaka, the mothers thought there were ghosts (I finally had to get in a local priest to carry out an exorcism), and the sewage lines were constantly blocked.
Once, two mothers and I ended up trying to cook the meals for everyone as things had gone wrong in the kitchen. Another time the children and mothers decided they didn’t like their breakfast so I loaded it in the truck and took it to Mother Theresa’s.
I won’t even go in to the difficulty of trying to make things more structured and disciplined which once led to stones being thrown at me by the teenage boys. At that time, a large donor had been visiting and was understandably astonished but luckily neither of us were actually hit!
Gradually things settled and slowly over the many years we have brought in systems and structures that mean we can deliver better training and development to the mothers and early years development to the children.
Our annual reports, available on our website, can give you a good overview of how things are now so I just want to thank you, from our whole Sreepur community, for reading this and for your support.
From time to time, and if space allows, I hope to add updates and reflections to the newsletter so, on that note I look forward to writing to you again soon"
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