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Bangladesh Cleans Up

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Bangladesh Cleans Up

Good Morning, my name is Manu, and today my purpose is to inform all of you of an event, or better, a catastrophe that happened during the first half of last February in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is not a well known country, since it's just a small piece of land, east of India, with  an area of just 55,600 mi², smaller that Oklahoma by 14,360 mi². what changes a lot, is the population, since it is of 131,270,000 inhabitants, 40 times the population of Oklahoma; in practice, half of the US population.

And in this country happens that the famous sentence "That government is best which governs least" - written by Thoreau in Civil Disobedience - would actually be a blessing for its inhabitants.

But since we cannot just go to the conclusion without knowing some history, I'll first illustrate, very briefly, the main stages in the history of this country and the main reason I decided to talk about this event.

The Independent State of Bangladesh, once known as East Pakistan, was created in 1971, after a very bloody war for its liberation. The main religion is Muslim, which caused the population to be divided in cultural castes: rich people, poor people, and outcastes. The rich people (10% of the population) own the 90% of the national resources of the territory, while the other 10% is owned by the resting 90% of the population. The distinction between a poor person and an outcaste is very strong. The outcastes are impure for everybody, and just by touching one you would become "one of them", too.

The reason that drove me to talk about this, is because my Grandfather first (Romano Maglioni), and my father now (Daniele Reggi), lead a committee of missionaries, called Committee Of Twinning And Cooperation Between The People. It was founded in December of 1977, after a trip to Bangladesh to visit some friends that had just started a mission centre in there.

"COMMITTEE OF TWINNING AND COOPERATION" - says Romano in the letter of presentation of the committee - "means to us a friendship sign: as Christians, we want to give an example of love toward the other, basing ourselves on the gospel of Mark 'Love your neighbour as yourself', and, so, make yield those talents that everyone of us received as a gift from God."

And the scope of this committee is to help people all over the world, especially in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Congo, Colombia, and Tanzania, giving children the opportunity to go to school and have an education that will literally change their lives, giving them the possibility to have a respected job and sustain their family, once they grow up. The system used by this institution (ONLUS - Non Lucrative Organization) is that of Adoption At A Distance: people in Italy, France, and soon even America, hopefully, adopt a child, for who they pay an annual "price", less than $0.60 a day, in order to pay for his school. This system has being working since the beginning and the money has always arrived to the correct destination, since it's not sent by mail or anything, but it's given to people that joined the committee, who go personally to the place where there are the missionaries that will receive the money.

The percentage of poor people in the country increases every year, and with that increase even the number of different projects to help them, even if not always these project are easy to be realized. The necessities of these people increase at such a high rate that usually is not easy to keep up with it, especially this year.

This year happened that the government of Bangladesh, tired of the usual traffic jam, decided to find a solution to it. Instead of limit the number of cars in the country, that would have been easier and it wouldn't have hurt anybody, the ministers decided to widen the roads. In order to have the room to do this, it was established a demolition drive of all the illegal housing that were found on the state territory (in practice all of them).

The law was passed on February 10, 2007, and it asked for all of the illegal building to be destroyed by the 11th. Millions of people had to tear down their house or their shop, usually the only source of income in the family, by 48 hours, with their own hands, otherwise the government would have done it and they would have had to pay for it.

"Like after an earthquake, the street were plenty of rubble, that covered not just the ground, but also hopes and lives" - writes Rudy, missionary in Bangladesh since 1998, in a report from the mission, written on February 12, 2007. For this matter, the committee started a new project, in order to give a house to those who lost their in this catastrophe. The project consist of buying a plot of land with an area of 30 acres, and build on it bamboo houses in order to host the families. Each house would be just 16 feet wide and 13.5 feet long, but it would be better than nothing, at least until the families have the possibility to raise some money and find a new one.

"In this situation of disaster, what moves everything and everybody is the will to go on, a strength often untouchable, but that has fortunately affected everybody in here." With these words, Rudy describes the atmosphere in which these days are spent in the mission centre in Chalna, Bangladesh.

" . really, if our neighbour's house would suddenly get in these conditions, wouldn't we have the courage to take $180 and give it to him?" - concludes him in the report, asking for help from everybody.

Fatima Mernissi said "Dreams can change your life, and eventually the world". Well, these people's dreams have been destroyed by an unscrupulous government that works for the good of the country, meant as land, instead of working for the good of the country, meant as people. Now it's our turn to bring will of life, and a new hope to those people affected by the mistakes of this government.

Works Cited

'Bangladesh Launches Massive Demolition Drive.' Yahoo! News (2007). 27 Mar. 2007 <https://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070310/wl_afp/bangladeshcorruptiondemolition_070310065727>. 

'Bangladesh.' Wikipedia. 22 Mar. 2007. 23 Mar. 2007 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangladesh>.

Franca, Rudy. 02.15.07 Bangladesh Report. Trans. Emanuele Reggi. Community Pope John XXIII. Chalna, Bangladesh: Rudy Franca, 2007.

Maglioni, Romano. 'Committee of Tweenning - About Us.' Committee of Tweenning and Cooperation Between the People. Trans. Emanuele Reggi. Ed. Daniele Reggi. 22 Jan. 2001. Onlus. 24 Mar. 2007 <https://www.webalice.it/dreggi/comitato/ita/comitato/comitato.html>.

Montoleone, Raul. 'Asia - Order of Area, Population, Density.' Global Geografia. Winter 2001. De Agostini. 23 Mar. 2007 <https://www.globalgeografia.com/asia_eng/asia_sup.htm>.

Montoleone, Raul. 'North America - Order of Area, Population, Density.' Global Geografia. Winter 2001. De Agostini. 23 Mar. 2007 <https://www.globalgeografia.com/asia/asia_sup.htm>.

'Oklahoma.' Wikipedia. 23 Mar. 2007. 23 Mar. 2007 <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oklahoma>.

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