Dian's Letters

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Dian's Bangladesh visit in April 2009Greetings of Peace, Assalamu Alaykum.

I traveled to Bangladesh earlier this month for two compelling reasons:
1. To visit an orphanage that GiveLight has been supporting over the past few months.
2. To see for myself the condition of orphans in one of the world's poorest countries.
I saw so much poverty and heard so many sad stories. At every street corner, every traffic light, every turn you can see the sign of life's daily struggle. Even in a relatively upscale neighborhood - where I had the privilege to stay at the home of a dear friend - I saw street sweepers with torn clothes, women carrying heavy loads, street peddlers trying to make ends meet, and old men pedaling rickshaws to feed their families.

I visited a shelter home for needy girls, four orphanages for boys and a home for blind girls. For the first time in my life I went into a slum and despite my fear I was able to see up close how people live with absolutely nothing. Babies, widows, old men shriveled. crippled or covered by flies.

 More heart-rending, I found an orphanage for 30 boys right in the heart of the slum. They sleep on the floor, they eat - on lucky days- a small bowl of rice and bread crumbs bought by donations from random strangers. Every child and adult I visited looked at me with penetrating eyes, as if asking: who are you? where did you come from? why are you here? But, for the modest donation that I gave on behalf of many generous friends, they raised their hands to thank God. I saw gratitude in their eyes and with their smile, they ask me return. And I will. I ask God that I will.

Here are some pictures which capture what I experienced. I can not go back to my comfortable life without doing something. And I will forever hold the memory of my visit to Bangladesh dear to my heart. What I experienced there was another visual reminder of the wide distance between the rich and the poor. How can the world be blind to this need? But instead of posing the rethoric, I ask myself, what will I do about Bangladesh and its orphans?

Below are my plans and commitments. They may be bold and aggressive, but if God is willing, then we are ready to work hard to deliver:

1. Givelight will adopt an orphanage called Darus Sunat (see pictures at the link above). There's a beautiful story behind this place. The founder, Maulana Manan, built the orphanage in 1961 for hundreds of boys. For 48 years, the orphanage has been in the family, and long after he died his children safeguard their father's legacy. Today they are struggling to feed 300 orphans and can only provide two meals a day. Every night, 300 children go to bed without dinner. So can I go to sleep in peace knowing these orphans I've met, some as young as my two boys, are hungry? Absolutely not! There are many other urgent needs at Darus Sunat:
     a. Adding toilets - currently 300 boys share 3 stalls. They need at least 10 more (requires ~$10K)
     b. Renovation - the building is in dire need of repair and cleaning (requires ~15K)
     c. Computers - they have one today and I want to send them at least five by this summer.
     d. Sponsorships - get the orphans sponsored by generous supporters.

2. GiveLight is looking to build a new orphanage for 50 girls. More to follow on this as things take shape.

I'm thankful to God for reminding me that our work to help orphans has only just begun. Please join us for a presentation and photo slideshow at MCA on May 16th, 2009 to find out how you can be a part of this rewarding journey. The link to evite is here. If you are not able to attend but would like to help in any capacity, please contact me at dian@givelight.org.

With gratitude and prayer for each and everyone of you,

Dian Alyan
dian@givelight.org