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help needed in Sylhet, Bangladesh
Posted September 23rd, 2012 - 8:17 am by from Bournemouth, England (Permalink)
My daughter and I have come to Bangladesh to help a friend who came to attend a family wedding but is now too ill to return to England. She needs support and help with a mental condition and we seem unable to help her enough to get her fit to go home. It seems noone speaks English and its not safe for us as western women to do almost everything in Bangladesh. We cant even find an English speaking doctor in Sylhet and we cannot travel to Dhaka as our friend is not well enough. We would appreciate any advice, support or help that anyone can offer. Many thanks for reading this. Stephanie

Posted September 23rd, 2012 - 10:59 pm by from Monmouth, United States (Permalink)
Warm Greetings Stephanie and Janice,

It sounds so difficult for you from reading your post as you try to assist your ailing friend. Please re-post when the assistance that you are hoping for is found and offered. In the mean time, the wonderful USA, US Ambassador, and his equally wonderful wife, are personal friends. (I worked with his wife in Zambia 10 years ago and just had dinner with her when they were passing through Portland, Oregon this summer.) Please do contact your own Embassy and ask for the needed assistance, FIRST. In the mean time after I have your permission to send your plea on to my friends, I'll move on it immediately. Please definitely include steps that you have already taken and their outcome. With your information and permission, I'll send it all on to my friends. Remember your contact info...

Best of luck.


Bonnie Ross

Posted September 24th, 2012 - 5:50 am by from Bournemouth, England (Permalink)
thank you so much for your supportive response. We have been in touch with the High Commision who were of no help whatsoever. We have also been in touch with the British Embassy who also were of very little help. The problem is not helped by the fact that although our friend was born in England and has a British passport, she is considered Bangladeshi as her parents are and we are here. She also does not have travel insurance so we cant even get assistance that way. Lots of friends back home offer advice but despite our efforts, they have no concept of what things are like here. Most people, understandably assume it is like India (so did we) but apart from the fact that it once was part of India, all similarities end there and somewhere like Sylhet has almost no experience of westerners and tourists. All we want to do is get her well enough to travel home. What would really help is a doctor who is fluent enough in English to total understand her mental problems and communicate with us. It would appear there are none in Syhlet. There may be someone in Dhaka but we are worried about travelling there and then getting stuck and having no support.
My personal email is stephanie.herman@sky.com if you think thats helpful.
Thank you for listening. Stephanie

Posted September 25th, 2012 - 3:37 am by from Monmouth, United States (Permalink)
Warm Greetings from Monmouth, OR. I just wanted you to know that I emailed our postings to my friends at the US Embassy in Bangladesh. If you don't hear from them, it could mean that my email didn't get through or they are traveling. Please let me know how things are going. Your friend is very lucky to have you there to look out for her. Blessings to you all.


Posted October 1st, 2012 - 8:27 am by from Bournemouth, England (Permalink)
Dear Bonnie,
I just wanted to say a personal thank you for your kind words and offers of help.
I am pleased to say we are all now home and safe and our friend is where she needs to be, getting the help and support she needs.
I have posted a more general note that you will also probably see but just wanted to add this note.
Thank you for all your efforts and using your contacts. Should we have had to continue our stay I would certainly have followed them up.
I think what also didnt help is that mental health in Bangladesh is not really recognised. They believe its all 'bad spirits' and that she must have done something wicked that caused her strange behaviour.
(the train was a good suggestion but it takes longer than by road!)
So now our experience is over (but not the jet lag) and life goes on.
Should you ever come over the 'pond' please feel free to get in touch.
Thank you again. All good wishes, Stephanie

Posted September 25th, 2012 - 4:38 am by from Monmouth, United States (Permalink)
I will be traveling and unavailable, but hope that the info that I've gleaned for you will be of some help. Warmly, Bonnie

My friend writes:

I have come up with names and phone numbers for two doctors here in Dhaka. The first is an internist who works with the expat community. His name is Dr. Wahab. 882 1545 or 882 7553 Psychiatrist are not plentiful. In fact my embassy referral list only has one and it does not stated that anyone has ever been to see him. His name is Dr.Omar Rahman phone numbers 988 4498 and 01713 00 8347. The journey from Sylhet to Dhaka by train is fairly easy to do. The trains are not expensive and 2nd class should be safe and relatively comfortable. If they have no family contacts in Dhaka that does cause other difficulties with housing and transport.

I'm not sure if this info will be helpful. I wish them luck getting their friend back to Britain.

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Posted October 1st, 2012 - 1:54 am by from Nashville, United States (Permalink)
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Posted October 1st, 2012 - 2:24 am from Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico
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Posted October 1st, 2012 - 2:33 am by from Nashville, United States (Permalink)
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Posted October 1st, 2012 - 7:03 am by from Manchester, England (Permalink)
Dear Nora

As an English woman the message seems entirely congruent - I could easily imagine myself in a similar situation. In the UK many of us have friends and neighbours from Bangladesh and visiting for a wedding seems such an interesting experience - I went to India myself and though that wasn't Bangladesh and we are culturally aware it was still quite a challenging experience.

What medication would you suggest that would allow this woman to return to the UK? Given that we do not have a description of her distress.


Posted October 1st, 2012 - 8:06 am by from Bournemouth, England (Permalink)
I am not american and never said I was. If you look at my profile you will see I am British. I was in Bangladesh and every thing I said was true. I am fairly well travelled and consider myself sensible and reasonably intelligent but was really struggling. I am sorry to hear that you thought I was scamming, but in what way I cannot see.
However, I am pleased to say we are all now safely home. So thank you for your unhelpful comments and lack of support. Fortunately not every one reacted in such a way. Have more faith in human nature.

Posted October 1st, 2012 - 9:15 am from Sydney, Australia
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Posted October 1st, 2012 - 9:31 am by from Washington, United States (Permalink)
Good response and I will continue doing the same thing.

Posted October 1st, 2012 - 3:48 pm by from Bournemouth, England (Permalink)
thank you and yes it was a huge support for me when I felt that the 'chip were down' and I felt vunerable and helpless. ps My son is at present in Sydney. He is working his way round your lovely country chefing!

Posted October 1st, 2012 - 11:59 pm from Sydney, Australia
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Posted October 2nd, 2012 - 10:51 am by from Bournemouth, England (Permalink)
Many thanks for that. He has a live in job so accommodation is fine. He is working in some restaurant but I cant keep up! Been so busy with this Bangladesh thing that I now need to catch up with him. Apparently he plans to move on in a couple of weeks or so but when I finally manage to skype him will pass your contact on if thats ok. Of course he may well choose to do his own thing, like they do! He is a couch surfing member but has not had the experience yet! Unlike myself, my daughter and my sister. I think the whole thing is just brilliant and meeting local people has made my trips. I do think tho' until you have done it the first time you cannot appreciate how good the whole system is.

Posted October 1st, 2012 - 7:07 am by from Manchester, England (Permalink)
Stephanie - I get my Christmas cards from this women's village in Bangladesh - they have English contacts and I think there is a chance you might be able to get some assistance from them. I met one of the English supporters and indeed she told me that women in Bangladesh have a very difficult time and that it is almost impossible for white supporters to assist in the wider community - I guess that may be some of the issues you are facing.


To any one else in this conversation - you may like to follow this link and buy cards to support this community which works to support women and children


Posted October 1st, 2012 - 8:19 am by from Bournemouth, England (Permalink)
I would just like to say to everyone who replied to me and offered support, or even just kind words, THANK YOU SO MUCH>
We are now all safely home thank goodness. I was unable to reply sooner due to the frequent power cuts that cut out the internet, or not being somewhere with wifi. We finally got medical suggestions from England which our friends here managed to buy - it would seem you can just go out and buy almost any drug for pennies anywhere! We had to trust they were what they said they were.
We did I am afraid to say, Just give her meds and cross our fingers. We had another absolutely terrible journey back to Dhaka, cos we couldnt get a flight that connected. We took a taxi but it wasnt much better than the original bus! However we got there and then our two follow on flights to London where friends met us. We got back home something like 36hours after leaving. We got the crisis team out and they admitted her to the local psychiatric hospital where she is at present.
I would just like to add, for the benefit of doubters, that at no time did we need or ask for money. All we wanted was guidance, and preferably fluent English speaking assistance if possible in Sylhet, which the majority of people understood.
What a wonderful world this is when you can put a call out for help and people respond. It truly does confirm my faith in my fellow beings. So once again. THANK YOU.
With all good wishes, Stephanie.

Posted October 1st, 2012 - 4:27 pm by from Monmouth, United States (Permalink)
Whaaaawhooo! I"m so glad to know that you're home, exhausted -- YES, but home and ready to rest, process, and celebrate those of us around the world who reached out and lent caring and support your way. I love the commitment of most of the couch surfer community to "being there" for one another.

As far as most of the international educators, this KIND OF Couch Surfing connectedness/honoring is "there", as well. I served throughout much of Africa and also had a post in Manila. My friend, who is not a couch surfer has served as an international educator in far more countries than I... And it is she who spent time researching possible avenues for assistance and writing the information that I sent on to you. I just want to be sure all who read this realize (as I'm sure that you actually do...) that the international education community is primarily a strong networked and supportive community. The work is hard and stresses can be challenging, but a commitment to furthering global humanity and understanding --- resides deeply within most of us.

Again, welcome home! Wishing you, your children, and your friend --- ALL GOOD THINGS.

Posted October 1st, 2012 - 5:15 pm by from Bournemouth, England (Permalink)
thank you so much. It is wonderful to know there are soooooo many good people out there. Cheers. x s