I was in Bangladesh last week and I got a taste of what it’s like for our staff. I got off the plane late on Saturday night looking forward to Sunday to recover, only to find that Sunday is a normal working day (Friday is the holy day). So after a short sleep, I dressed in a borrowed salwar kameez (traditional Bangladeshi garb for women consisting of loose trousers, a long top and scarf) and I walked to work, taking my life in my hands as I negotiated the traffic. The Dhaka roads are horrifically congested and drivers have no respect for either road rules or pedestrians! It was extremely hot and humid. While that’s not unlike Cairns (where I live) at its worst, when this was coupled with frequent power cuts (meaning that the air conditioning and fans don’t work) it was much more uncomfortable.
And then there was work. Making appointments, asking for responses to emails, getting accurate information and understanding a complex legal system in a developing nation (often times through a translator) was not easy. My experience after a week in Dhaka was that progress was slow, information was contradictory and the only certainty was that nothing worked as I expected it to.
But then I spent some time with the local MAF staff – dedicated and hard working men and women, passionate about what we do. And then I went on a MAF flight. As I soared over the flooded landscape I heard of those who had negotiated the trip by road the day before. As they took a ferry across the Padma River (one of the many flooded rivers they had to cross) they were tossed and turned by a storm and were convinced that the ferry was going to capsize and they would drown. The trip from Barisal to Dhaka, that took us half an hour by plane, had taken ten hours the day before by road.
That is why we have been operating in Bangladesh for 15 years. That is why we continue to live and work in challenging and often frustrating conditions – to serve the Bangladeshi people, to transport medical teams, carry out ambulance flights, fly relief and development agencies, safely and quickly - to be a life line!
Thank you once again for your prayer for MAF and your support of our staff and ministry.