As part of #TrusteesWeek2020, we would like to celebrate the work of one of our trustees, Peter Wilkes. who has supported the charity from its onset and who retires today from 31 years of helping to keep destitute single Bangladeshi mothers with their children, empowering more families in Bangladesh with the tools for a brighter and more dignified future.
We are delighted to share with you today Peter’s journey with The Sreepur Village, charity.
“As a chartered civil and structural engineer, I first became involved with the charity in 1986 in order to give advice on the design and construction of the village. The orphanage, as it was then, had been given notice to quit the building it occupied in Dhaka and a new site was required.
When eventually a site was procured, the design team faced the challenge of providing water and drainage services as there were none in this very rural area. As there was also little chance of getting electricity or gas it was necessary to arrange a method of providing lighting and cooking facilities.
In addition, there was the challenge of finding out what building materials were available in a country with few natural resources. In the days prior to the start of construction the 3km access road to the site was extremely difficult to negotiate and I recall having to walk part of the journey when our four-wheel drive vehicle became bogged down.
It was rewarding to see the village developing and in late 1988 the buildings were completed sufficiently for the children and staff to start moving in. I was lucky enough to attend the official opening ceremony in February 1989.
I managed a few visits to Sreepur in the following years as I was involved in some maintenance work such as improving the drainage system and further development and improvements to the village, for example the construction of The Halfway House. It was a great benefit to the running of the village when eventually electricity and gas were brought to the site.
I had the opportunity through my many visits to learn about the geography, history and culture of Bangladesh.
I became a Trustee in 2004 and in that year my wife had her first visit to Bangladesh with me. She had always had a keen interest in my involvement with the charity and had sponsored a number of children. As a Trustee I gradually became involved in some financial aspects of the Charity. I also gave presentations to various groups about the work of the Charity in order to raise money and awareness of the Charity. Each Christmas I assisted Rob Jenkins with the packing and posting of the Charity Christmas cards.
My last visit was for the 30th Anniversary celebrations in February 2019, a very memorable trip which will remain with me for many years. On the second day of the celebrations a large number of ex beneficiaries and their families attended, and it was great to hear how grateful they were for having been brought up in the village. They were very proud of their achievements since leaving Sreepur and keen to show me their families.
I am sad to retire from being a Trustee but feel it is time for a younger person to take up the role. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to be involved with the construction and development of the village. I am especially grateful for the privilege of being a Trustee for such a worthwhile project. Thank you Pat, Trisha and my fellow Trustees and all those who have made this such a rewarding part of my life.”
On behalf of everyone at The Sreepur Village, we would like to thank Peter for his devotion to the charity over these last 31 years, both as an integral engineer in the development of The Sreepur Village and as a trustee.
Life can sometimes throw unimaginable challenges at us, but it's the human spirit's resilience and determination that can lead to remarkable stories of triumph.
Lia's life is a testament to this spirit, marked by adversity, courage, and ultimate success. Lia's story draws parallels to other stories of perseverance, and highlights the crucial role of organisations like Sreepur Village in transforming lives.
Out of the blue, at the tender age of 13, Chia found herself sitting on a bridal stage, about to marry a man who was 35 years old. Her parents had arranged the match, finding the man from their nearby locality in Bhairab.
He was a small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) businessman who occasionally sold vegetables and fruits on the street. Chia's aspirations and youthful dreams were abruptly interrupted by this sudden marriage. Instead of books, she found herself with kitchen utensils in her hands. She went from feeling like a princess to becoming a servant overnight.