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A new year ahead!

Written by Antje on January 12th 2016 22:19

As it’s now more than a week into January, it’s high time I said something about how I spent Christmas here.

Christmas began back half way through December with all kinds of celebrations. The photo below shows a Christmas celebration in the outpatients’ department in which songs were sung and in honour of Jesus’ birthday a cake was cut. I had the honourable task, as surgeon, of cutting up the cake into as many pieces as possible :-)

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After that there was a Christmas celebration for the staff. A celebration tent was especially put up in which this took place together with a celebration of the end of the school year and a commemoration of the end of the civil war in 1971. Because there is such a low risk of rain in the cold season, the tent is made of thin cloth and bamboo poles. The photo below shoes the final scene of the nativity story. For the observant reader, note the live sheep.

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 With the uncertain security situation in Bangladesh after a number of attacks on foreigners, we now have police guarding the hospital grounds. In the photo below you can see the celebration tent with policemen on duty and therefore able to have the chance to hear the Christmas story. 

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I didn’t take any photos of the other Christmas celebrations on the day itself. We celebrated Christmas Eve with all the singles together at our place. On Christmas Day there was a morning service, a great rice meal for lunch and then the opportunity to visit friends and colleagues to wish them Happy Christmas and sample their special Christmas bakes. Particularly lovely was the evening of the 25th, when we had a carol evening. There were loads of people as different families brought their guests with them and it was lovely to sing many of the carols in harmony.

Then, the day after Christmas was again a normal working day….

New Year’s Eve was also pretty special. This month the LAMB project has already been in existence for 40 years and this is going to be celebrated splendidly. We went by bus to Rangpur (at least an hour’s journey) to invite all kinds of VIPs to come to the celebration. The heads of paediatric medicine, gynaecology, paediatric rehabilitation, our hospital administrator and I in my new capacity as new medical director all travelled together. It was a day in which we were warmly received everywhere (3 foreign women in saris and 2 Bangladeshi men), but often had to wait until there was time for us to say something. In the photo we are sitting in the office of the dean of the faculty of medicine in Rangpur. In the background you can spot the display of 16 security cameras on the screen…

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Since then I have been working for over a week as medical director and I must admit it’s not at all easy. Particularly hard is keeping track of everything that needs to happen, and what is important and what can wait. I can, I suppose comfort myself with the thought that last week was exceptionally busy with emergency operations. The result was that the time I had set aside for administration was in practice quickly used up for other things.

I hope and pray that in the coming weeks things will become more peaceful. Below one more photo: the view from my balcony. The rice was all harvested by the end of November and beginning of December and now the fields seemingly lie bare. But there is a strip of green to be seen where the new rice plants are already growing. Soon they will be large enough to be transplanted. In a few weeks they shall probably start irrigating and my view will be green again!

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