Anna and Nathaneal's story, visitors from the UK
Having decided to island hop across the bay of Bengal, from East to West Bangladesh, we ended up on Bhola Island. Unsure about where we were going to stay we consulted our guide book and made our way to Char Fassion Orphanage where we were greeted with an extremely warm welcome. Our stay at the orphanage was incredible! I have never met such a friendly and caring group of people. We enjoyed playing games together, I helped them with their English, the boys gave me a tour of their school and in the evening they showed me around the village, practising their English as we walked. Seraj and his family were amazing hosts and served the most delicious Bangladeshi food. Of course we ended up staying at the orphanage longer than planned. I would highly recommend a visit to this magical place to spend time with the wonderful people at Char Fassion!
Anna enjoying the company of some of the younger boys
Anna teaching the boys English, and, below, some of the children and neighbours living close by.
Arianna playing 'double double'!
Arianna is a student but she is hoping to save money to visit the orphanage as soon as she can. She wrote:
'I love hearing what's going on at the orphanage and seeing pictures of all the changes. I have been thinking a lot about the boys at Charfassion lately, and how much fun i had with them. I am still hoping to come back and stay for a loooong time someday. Will you please tell the boys I say hello? I particularly remember the boys singing 'Kookaburra'. I loved when we sang that together! My favorite part was definitely teaching the boys that hand game "double double this this," but I doubt they remember it. And I could play hangman with English words with them for HOURS. Anyway, I miss being at Charfassion so much!'
Yvonne's English class
Yvonne Reynolds has been teaching Bangladeshi children in London for many years.
She visited Charfassion Orphanage for ten days during January 2013 and was delighted to at last visit the country from which their families originated. She wrote:
I recently returned from a visit to Charfassion Orphanage in Bhola Island, Bangladesh.
To English ears ‘orphanage’ doesn’t describe the close-knit, affectionate but serious little community consisting of the staff, their friends and supporters, and the boys themselves (the older ones looking out for the younger) who gave me such an overwhelming welcome.
The orphanage was set up in the wake of the war of independence in the 1970s and the disastrous cyclone in the same decade. For many years it struggled to survive, and even to feed the children. Now rebuilt, due to generous donors and the efforts of local people, it offers spacious accommodation to visitors, while still existing from year to year on a very tight budget.
Why not take a holiday at the orphanage? An overnight launch from Dhaka to Bhola Island provides remarkable views of the riverine landscape, and once arrived, early morning walks around Charfassion provide numerous captivating views of the Bangladeshi countryside and its people going about their business of work or study. You may be lucky enough to have the company of one or two of the older boys on your walks, helping them practice their English en route. The local market is colourful and interesting, and actually, you can get almost anything you need there. Each day is relaxing and orderly, punctuated by the call to prayer and by the bell summoning the boys at mealtimes. The food you will eat is excellent. Any assistance with teaching, or participation in organized games will be warmly welcomed. And there are occasional gala days to enjoy, such as the well-attended Mothers’ Day this year, with sporting events and lots of fun.