Several months ago I received a phone call from Claire.
"Guess what." she said, sounding so excited and happy that I guessed she must have snagged the work promotion she'd applied for.*
"No," she said, "I'm going to Bangladesh!"
I knew that going to Bangladesh to give medical care to the suffering Rohingya Muslim refugees (see yesterday's post) was something Claire had been talking about doing and that she had looked into working for a Bangladeshi medical aid organization called Hope for Bangladesh and also for the Canadian Red Cross.
She'd fly to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. When she arrived at Dhaka she'd have to deplane with her luggage then catch a shuttle plane to Cox's Bazar, the coastal town where the massive refugee camp set up by the Bangladeshi government is located (see yesterday's post).
"So, are you happy?" I asked Claire after she had told me the details.
"Oh, yeah!" she replied.
She learned that the field hospitals at Cox's Bazar were in dire need of many basic medical supplies, especially for babies and children and that MedGlobal had posted a wish list of items on Amazon.
"Do you think it would be obnoxious of me to tell my Facebook friends about the wish list and ask them to buy something?"
"Not at all," I told her, "people like to help out."
This proved to be true.
Claire sent out a request for items on Facebook, which I shared to my timeline as well.
Some people sent her money, for which Claire was grateful, as when she boarded the shuttle plane from Dhaka to Cox's Bazar she'd have to pay by the kilogram for the hundred pounds of medical supplies in her suitcases.
Also, MedGlobal had arranged for their personnel to stay in a hotel in Cox's Bazar, which was a popular seaside resort town before the refugee camp was moved there - maybe it still is, Claire didn't know - in any case, apparently the town has been thriving well with all the commerce from the foreign aid workers. Claire was glad to have a hotel room - she informed me that the Canadian Red Cross workers, hale, hearty and hardcore, stay in tents in the refugee camp - but, again, she'd be required to pay for her room, $30 a night.
Most aid workers stay for a week, but because Claire was staying for over three weeks, which would run up her hotel bill to over $750, her MedGlobal supervisor said he would try to scrape up some funds to help her pay for her lodgings.
However the donations she's received from friends and family will pay for a good part of her hotel bill and she can let MedGlobal keep the money they were going to give her to use for the refugees.
"What will you eat?" I asked Claire during a recent conversation about her upcoming trip.
"The hotel will provide breakfast and they tell me that for dinner there's a local restaurant where we can buy a meal for one dollar."
"What about lunch?" I asked her.
"There's no lunch break and no food will be provided, but I'm bringing along a supply of energy bars to eat for lunch."
"What about water?" I asked.
"They tell us there'll be sufficient water for us."
"Well," I said, "I guess you'll be seeing lots of...things."
"Lots of trauma, I expect. They told me there's epidemics of measles and diphtheria in the camp and outbreaks of cholera."
"Claire, what if you get cholera?' I asked.
She shrugged off my alarm. "I'll have clean water to drink. And I'm pretty healthy. The patients in the camp arrive already compromised. But if I do get cholera all I'll need to do is keep hydrated and I should recover fine."
"Will there be someone there to meet you when arrive in Bangladesh?" I asked, as she would be making the trip alone.
"Not in Dhaka, but someone from the hotel will be there to meet me when I arrive in Cox's Bazar."
Yesterday evening at 8 pm Claire boarded a plane flying from Chicago to Dubai, a thirteen-and-a-half hour trip. After an 8-hour layover in Dubai she will take her next flight from Dubai to Dhaka, which is another four-and-a-half hours. In Dhaka she will retrieve her suitcases and board the shuttle for the 1-hour flight to Cox's Bazar, where she should arrive around 10 am Bangladesh time, which is 11 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.
Heart felt thanks to everyone who sent items or money. Some of the items from Amazon arrived at Claire's house without identification as to who sent them. Would anyone who sent something from Amazon but did not receive a thank-you not from Claire please let me know? Thanks!