Thursday, January 22, 2015

What’s a normal day like as a Conservation Student in Dhaka Bangladesh?

Well if you include two attempts to burn down buses on campus and the explosion of a Molotov cocktail….well…then its just another day.

I was going to continue to add to the posts about our work in India (and I will), but I could not ignore what I have left behind in Bangladesh. I have made friends with many students and faculty there and get to hear exactly what they are encountering each day as they undergo another prolonged strike in their country.

This week many social media apps were shut down (like Whatsapp and Viber), making it harder for them to communicate. So things as simple as working out times to meet with your professors has been made harder.

I want to bring this information to the front, because I think many of us who subscribe to the foundation Blog/Facebook/Twitter, have no idea what it would be like to try to function as students or faculty under such conditions. What if you no longer could easily communicate with anyone (at home or away from home)? And then what if you were meeting with your professor when a bomb made of gasoline was ignited outside your building? And this was not something that you had never seen or heard before? Can you even imagine what kind of additional stress would be added to your work in conservation dealing with this kind of fear daily (or whatever field you are in)? The fear of being burned alive? I cannot. Honestly. And I pray I never have to.

Bus torched at Jagannath University, Dhaka, Bangladesh (Photo: Bangladesh Chronicle)

But because these people DO have to know what this is like. We HAVE TO listen and respond.

We at TDRF will be continuing to fight for these people as part of our work to save the species in that area. But we could really use your help too. What can you do?

1. SHARE THIS POST! And ask others to also share. Making others aware is step one.

2. Tell your congress people to get on the ball and get the US to help. Write them the following letter or one of your own. It takes no time at all, but could be significant. In US here is how to find your congress person (http://www.opencongress.org/people/zipcodelookup). See below for what to use as a letter if you don’t want to write your own.

Why do I think this will help? Because we already helped once! We…meaning you …helped us get the story about the oil spill covered! YOU! You spread the word and it got to the right folks and the US did get involved.

Example Letter (Feel free to just paste and copy):

Many species in S Central Asia are at the brink of extinction.

Overlooked but critical to this are the safety and retention of young conservation students.
o   But their safety is right now at great risk in Bangladesh, thanks to strikes and continued violence.
o   This violence extends to within the walls of the Universities. There is no safe harbor for them.
o   Daily they must worry about being BURNED ALIVE.

Without these students there is no future for conservation in this region of the globe

 Without the next generation of students PERIOD in this region, there will not be a work force knowledgeable enough to bring this country from the brink of destruction.

The United States needs to work to help negotiate an end to the strikes in Bangladesh.