It has been a very busy year not only in Bhola but also in Europe. Dinah from Bholas Children UK and other Swedesh people visited Bhola in February. In March Bruna was in a special Swiss centre to rehabilitate from eleven weeks on a wheelchair because of a broken ankle. Then Dinah and Bruna at the beginning of May went to do the famous walk to Santiago de Compostela in Spain to raise money for Bholas Children. They walked 120 km in five days from Sarria to Santiago! Not bad after only 6 weeks of rehabilitation!!
Bruna raised the equivalent of over € 9000 in CHF, €, $ and £.
In the mean time in Bhola, staff and children were very busy filling with sand half of the lake in our boundary. On that side we will build the new building for the tailoring department, staff room, visitors/volunteers rooms and some of the staff quarters.
We also managed to buy a new piece of land ten minutes walking from our home to build the future bigger wood-metal workshop and some staff quarters. This was possible thanks to the generous donation in UK from the oil company Vitol.
Some of our older children have left us going back to their villages or to Dhaka to work or getting married and very young children have joined us, Ali preferring now to take mainly 5, 6, 7 years old.
At the beginning of November Holger, now also a trustee of Bholas Children Foundation FL, with Jelena, our film director and producer and Bruna went back to Bhola bringing with them two young girls from the HAK school of Bludenz. Amanda and Patricia were doing a special project for their Matura to raise money and awareness about Bholas Children. We still don’t know the results of the many events they organized once they were back in Austria, but they certainly worked very hard and the children in Bhola were very excited of their visiting.
During our visit we had two weddings in our home. Laily the cook married a man she met in Dhaka. Then thanks to our presence and the intervention of ‘Mammi Bruna’, the Romeo and Juliet of Bhola, Montu and Monira (both part of our staff) were allowed to marry.
As in all home/schools and families there are always problems and
difficulties to face and to resolve. This time we had to discuss a lot with Ali about some needed changes and introducing some new ways and policies. Holger and Bruna had also a meeting with Dinah as soon as they arrived back in London, to allow her to tackle some of the problems during her imminent visit to Bhola.
In March the new building is finished. Thanks to a generous donation we managed to install the new toilets and showers, pink for the girls, green for the boys. We also managed to put glasses on the windows. In June our boys and girls have moved in.
Thanks to an intensive year of successful fund-raising above all in England, but also with the help of Bay Foundation - Switzerland and private people in Liechtenstein, Italy and Spain, members of FAO, we have started to build a bigger house that in the future will allow to have fifty resident children; In four years we have organized over 100 cleft lip operations; In October BHOLAS CHILDREN FOUNDATION is officially registered in Liechtenstein as a charity No 0002.302.710-4.
Lars-Erik with a group of Swedish friends, Bruna and Jose’-Luis with Dinah Wiener, an English literary agent that went with them to visit Ali and the children, raise money to buy the property Bhola Garden; In March, thanks to the great help and efforts of Dinah, Bhola’s Children is registered as a UK charity.
Lars-Erik Wallhagen from Sweden, that has known Ali for many years, joins Bruna to help financing the home/school; Jose’-Luis Andarias from Spain, after meeting Bruna in Morocco, becomes one of her major supporter to help Ali and the children.
Bruna finances Ali to start the project: they rent a property with two big and two smaller buildings with a big garden and an orchard; they house the first children and start the school and wood workshop; they organize the first cleft lip operations with a surgeon in Dhaka.
Bruna Colombo-Otten (Italian-British living in England and in Liechtenstein), fund-raiser and anthropologist, goes to Bangladesh in November with a Swiss organization and meets in Dhaka Ali Akkel Howlader. Ali had been working for the Swedish organization ‘Interlife’ for over 35 years taking care of disabled people. He tells Bruna about his dream of creating a home and school taking care of orphaned children with different types of disabilities that would benefit from living together, learning together, helping and supporting each other.