Our sponsor Bouwmaat in Bangladesh

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Bouwmaat Amsterdam, a wholesale company for building materials, and sponsor of Max Foundation, organised their third 'construction trip' to Bangladesh. Paul Verduin, manager, tells about their experiencens in the two villages where Max Foundation's programme is being implemented.

The task they set for themselves was to construct two sanitation buildings near the local schools in Sadar and Panpatti, villages in the district of Pathuakali. Two groups of each five staff members and customers of Bouwmaat would stay one week to get it done. These buildings will ensure that school students can go to the toilet seperately. This way, girls do not have to miss school during their menstruation perdiods. Paul tells how people kept following him around, and stare at him, with great curiosity. "They really don't get why you would leave you compfortable life, your paid work, to be laying bricks for nothing, in the sweltering heat" Paul laughs.

Theatre plays
Paul continues to explain how nice it was to be working on the project and meanwhile being able to observe what Max Foundation's work looks like 'in the field'.  For example, he saw theatre plays being performed in the village courtyard, to educate people about hygiene. Sometimes by hired actors, sometimes by children from the community. These 'performed stories' have shown to be a very effective way of making sure the message stick with people. 

On one of the last days of their trip Paul was talking to one of the school teachers. During the conversation, the teacher seemed to be getting more and more upset. It soon became apparant what the matter was. He was simply frustrated, even showing tears, that they needed help from outside and couldn't do this independently. And money was perhaps not even the biggest problem. 'Many people in the community just don't understand how important this is!'

An addictive trip?
He noticed this last year too: people there are incredibly sociable. 'Much more than in the Netherlands.' I guess it's because people depend on each other much more. That is actually really inspiring, Pauls tells us. He also went to visit the village where he helped last year. People welcomed him with so much enthusiasm and gratitude. If he is perfectly honest, it is not just about the project itself. Yes, of course, it's great to create something so tangible. But it really moves you to see how people are so happy with the smallest things. ‘Maybe that is actually the reason why I went a second time. We can learn so much from this mentality'

(Photo Paul visiting last year's project)

'Will I be going a third time? In principal no, it's quite taxing such a trip... (Paul smiles) but I wouldn't be surprised if in a year's time you will find me on a plane to Dhaka again'

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