Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Black and White vs. Shades of Grey

Let’s talk about work for a minute shall we. It’s what I am here for after all.

There are changes afoot in my organisation. How do I put this as simply as I can? Because it’s a long story. And potentially a boring one too.

Ok. Here goes.

This organisation was started in the 70’s by a group of Buddhist monks. Mostly good eggs, who did good work. It was a tough place to work, as this area has always been suppressed and oppressed by the Bengali majority. Remember this is an indigenous minority, in contrast to the ethnically Begali, and mostly Muslim, majority. In a country of 150 million people, with not enough resources, prone to natural disaster and a rather violent history. 

One of the founding members was the General Secretary of the organisation for like 30 years. Due to the difficult circumstances of the area and time, and the inherent lack of management capacity of a group of monks, transparency was
not high on the agenda. In fact, circumstances provided a breeding ground for corruption and, how can I say… financial liberties. By said monk (and potentially other monks) and various members of the community living here.

Two years ago, the government withdraw (for unrelated reasons) their funding (the major funding source for the organisation). Moanoghar very, very almost collapsed.

People rallied around to help, but no one would help financially as long as the crook monk was still around. So he was forced to resign. Which is culturally a HUGE thing here. I guess it’s like sacking a Catholic priest in Ireland. Or sacking your tribal leader in Africa. Or something.

Now, this monk wants to come back to Moanoghar. And he has friends in some very high places. And with this being Bangladesh and all, people use their power (political and other) to:

a) get what they want
b) get their friends what they want.

So now, with pressure on all sides, Moanoghar is being forced to dissolve it’s Executive Committee. And to reform with the afore mentioned monk and his cronies. It is highly likely the afore mentioned funding is on it’s way back to Moanoghar. So people smell money. And they want some. Let’s NOT spare a thought for the orphaned and destitute children that will be denied all manner of things by this money grabbing. Sometime human nature is very ugly. And it is not fun to see. Believe me. 

Negotiations are now ongoing. Good vs Evil. Ok, it’s not really that dramatic, but there is now an effort to get some good eggs into the Executive Committee to reduce the impact/influence of the bad eggs. 

Are you still awake? Yes, I was right. That was boring.

Anyway. So where does this leave me? What will my conscience allow? 

a) Pack up and move on. Refuse to work with any level of corruption.

b) Get real (I’m in Bangladesh for god’s sake, what WAS I expecting). Work within it to try change it / minimise the impact. 

Walking away won’t change anything. Staying here just *might* change something. You have to accept, and engage with, something before you can change it. And all that. 

Besides, people can change. Right?

2 Comments»

  Amanda wrote @

Hmm. What would a wise man say about this predicament ? Be still and you will know ?

  estellevisagie wrote @

Please keep all the wise comments coming, I certainly need them! I should get a book of Zen sayings for my time here, and read one each morning. Or something. xx


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