Bangladesh and the currency of hope.
Leaving never gets easier. And though I know it’ll be a 2-day commute to get to my destination, it’s this part that’s the hardest. The kids clinging tight the way only kids can, asking you in little voices not to go. The look in Allison’s eyes and that extra long squeeze. It’s just so damn hard sometimes. Mixed feelings for sure. But these trips if anything make me appreciate them so much more. Still it weighs on me. As does this trip, taking a new and uncharted step with Team Broken Earth.
Today, the team is leaving for Dhaka, Bangladesh. And while the location is not new, the course we will be teaching is. It’s our first course on women’s health. From the beginning of Team Broken Earth I have recognized the importance of maternal fetal health, the importance of women’s health, and how poverty around the world weighs most heavily and unjustly upon women.
Of the 1.6 billion people that live in poverty, the majority are women. Every single day around the world, thousands of women are subject to violence, forced marriage, and sexual abuse. This is a global problem. It belongs to all of us and we all need to be part of the solution.
Our first trip to Bangladesh two years ago is when we witnessed this problem literally and figuratively on the face of women in the sex trade and thousands of homeless young girls in a shelter. Facts and figures bluntly became reality for me. I knew we needed to be more proactive with women’s health. I will never be able to get the line of women with scars on their faces out of my mind. The scar is the hallmark of the sex trade. It’s forever burned into the fabric of who I am.
Some may say that the problem is just too big. That a difference can’t be made. But that’s nonsense. The alternative to do nothing is a coward’s way out. We need to ensure that women in these vulnerable countries are afforded greater opportunities. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned through Team Broken Earth, the answers lie in safe health and education. That’s why we are here. Bangladesh is a developing country with high maternal and neonatal mortality rates. But there are dedicated medical professionals working hard to change the statistics and outcomes for women in their country.
So this is so important for us. And in true TBE fashion we have assembled an amazing team of doctors and nurses. We have a program that we hope will help share information on best practices of labor and delivery and intimate partner violence. It’s start. A first step of another journey.
This trip will also be our first time returning since sponsoring for a year a shelter that helps take hundreds of homeless children, mainly girls, off the street and gives them a safe place to stay, eat and learn. Many of these children have no names. No identity. And this shelter, and the SAJIDA foundation, help them establish who they are and gives them hope as to who they can become.
This is a challenge for me. I’m a bit of a fish out of water here. I’m not an obstetrician. I’m a bone surgeon. Just some guy from Canada. Yet the problem is so deep in my heart. I have daughters, a wife, a mother, and strong grandmothers and aunts who have risen to challenges, shaken stigmas and succeeded. Every woman everywhere deserves the same. I can’t shake the emotions of it. I won’t. In my line of work there are broken bones and I fix them. But how do you fix this gigantic problem of gender? I hope it starts with courses like this.
Sitting on the plane watching the land and ocean pass beneath. Feeling the distance from home spread wider yet I feel in a strange way closer to home. Closer to my family and to all of you. All of our Team Broken Earth supporters. Despite the geography, I know we are all connected. This here connects us. Together, we care well beyond our homes, our cities and towns, provinces and country. Our currency is hope. And I love that we all want to share that wealth.