It went very well. I grabbed a rickshaw down to the BRAC Centre in Mohakhali, it took just 15 mins to get there through back streets and much weaving in and out of traffic. I hung on tight. The BRAC Centre is a tall building, about 20 floors with full airport-like security before you enter the building. I have no photos of course as I’m not really that comfortable taking out my camera and taking my eye off my bag. Just as I walked up to security, I spied a white-haired man, a little frail, stepping out of a car and by-passing security. I looked closer, it was none other than Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, making his way into the office. How fortunate! On my first visit to BRAC, I actually get to see (not talk though) the man himself. I was sent up to the 19th floor to meet with a gentleman by the name of Rana – Senior Manager, Visitors, Communications. His sole job (with two colleagues supporting) is to coordinate all visits to BRAC, and people come from far and wide in a steady stream it seems. In some circles in North America and Europe, BRAC is not well known. But here in Bangladesh, it is the bright light of Deshi Success. I read somewhere today that Bangladesh is a country that never gives up, and from what I have seen thus far, it is true. Everybody is active at making a living any way they can – from the professionals to the retail staff to the rickshaw wallahs to the enterprising men & women selling peanuts on the sidewalk – everyone is striving for a better life for the next generation. And BRAC is near revered in this country, people are dead proud of what BRAC has achieved and the impact it is having, one person at a time. I consider myself really really fortunate that BRAC are even considering me a worthy ‘visitor’. After an hour’s discussion of where my interests lie within the BRAC organization, and how Rana can get me set up, I came away with having a loose plan of what the coming months will look like. I’ll basically go through a day-long induction shortly, mid-May I will join a pre-planned visit by the University of Ottawa as the outline of their visit fits well to mine (I just hope they are Ok with me tagging along!). After which we get into the more detailed learning specifically in the areas of Micro-finance, Social Enterprises and (I can hardly believe I chose this) Internal Audit in the coming months. This could include both rural and urban exposure with visits to the field to allow me to see the practicalities on the ground. I’ll have to have an interpreter with me given I don’t have Bengali. So not much “doing” for me in the coming months, the focus will be more on observing and learning what truly happens both on the ground and in the head office environment. This is definitely a change of pace for me. For many years now, it is I who has been the teacher, the (mostly) all knowing person. The tables sure have turned. I hope I can handle it! Not to let it go unmarked, today is Tagore’s 153rd birthday (if he were still alive) and it’s a big day here in Bangladesh. Although born in India, it is said Tagore and Bengali-ness remain inseparable. I thought you might enjoy this article in today’s Daily Star (English-speaking progressive thinking newspaper published in Dhaka) on how Tagore can be applied to anything … well almost. Enjoy.
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