It’s 3:30 in the AM and I can’t sleep. I thought it was the time change, but I can’t stop thinking about the sites of today.
The city is intensely dense. At 20,000 people per square km, there isn’t a lot of room. But the roads and infrastructure are good, and we feel safe.
We began the day by touring a facility for “pavement dwellers.” These are people who literally lay on the street at night. No cover overhead, no blankets, no place to call home. In fact, they do not even exist in the eyes of the government (no name, no address, no citizenship). I initially wondered why they were not referred to as the homeless until I saw the pictures. People just putting their heads down directly on the pavement at the end of the day. 500,000 of them. 100,000 in Dhaka. One third of them are kids. Even typing this I can’t believe those numbers.
But there is hope. Our host has created an amazing institute to help some of these people, especially some of the kids. We arrived to 100 singing kids wishing us well. They sang and danced and did a presentation. They were interactive, alive, engaged, like they had new life because of the help that was being provided for them. Still, this institute only looks after around 11,000… there is still so much to do.
What I saw in the afternoon was what has been keeping me up. We visited a combination clinic and school. The school was amazing and there were more pavement children there to get protection and education. But when we did clinic, we saw patient after patient who were young women in the sex trade, all of whom were asking to have the scars on their face revised, all had been cut in the same fashion on both cheeks. I had to bite down on my own outrage. Horrific, gut wrenching, sickening, sad, anger… I felt so many things at once that I can barely think of the words to describe it.
One girl was 12.
She had scars on both cheeks, and one across her neck. 12 years old… 4 years older than my Maggie. She should be in grade 7. Instead, she is begging for us to help take the symbols off her face. She sat there in silence as we explained there was nothing we could really do for her. She sat still for a while with blank eyes. As she got up, you could see she was at least 6 months pregnant.
I gotta be honest. I didn’t see this coming and my heart truly hurts tonight. Just want to shake the planet and yell what the hell is wrong with us?
Gonna go see if the gym is open. I can’t sleep and I need to work off some frustration.