As I write this, I was immediately brought back to my recent time in Bangladesh. I have never seen such poverty in all my years, which includes service in East Africa and the Middle East. There are families who make their homes on the street.
As I walked each day, I saw a blind man with his 10- or 11-year-old daughter begging. Most of the time, the girl was so tired she just fell asleep in his arms. There we saw a blind man (with a young girl asleep on his lap) begging for help.
Another frequent sight I saw was of a 5- or 6-year-old girl who sat begging with her baby brother (about 8 or 9 months old) asleep in her arms. The girl had a tiny little skirt on with a bare chest while the baby was naked.
When I walked on the crosswalk in order to cross the road, I saw families who were claiming their space after a night on the street. I was told that they sleep there each night and also gather there when the rains come.
In the face of this poverty, Maryknoll Sisters Miriam Frances Perlewitz and Claudette La Verdiere are doing their best to educate as many Bangladeshi students as possible. Sister Miriam Frances began an English Medium School and is now in the process of training young graduates of the school to take over the administration and teaching in the school. The children in the school are being trained to think critically, using values taught in their classes, as they continue on their journeys through life. Hopefully, these will be the leaders of Bangladesh sometime in the future and the values instilled in them in their education at the Bacha School will produce leaders who will help in the development of the country.
Sister Claudette is also teaching at the seminary in Dhaka. She is helping to train leaders for the church of Bangladesh.
This experience in Bangladesh taught me much about resilience in the face of the difficulties that life gives us. They smiled, put on their best sari’s, and looked magnificent as they strolled along the crowded sidewalks. Is grace something that comes in the soul, so that nothing can take that grace from us?