Education can be the key to lifting a person out of poverty and enabling them to create a legacy for themselves and their family. Cindy, with her husband Ross, uses education to transform lives. Cindy tells the story of this aspect of Tranzsend’s work in Bangladesh.
From zero to 320 students since 2006; the establishment of GEMS (Golgotha Baptist English Medium School) has been quite a challenging journey. The school resides in a few rooms on top of a church in Dhaka city. Most days it is full of children—noisy, excitable and full of energy. Every space is taken up with something or someone (we even have people sitting on the stairs).
The little ones (three to five years), are cuteness and liveliness in equal portions. The primary school (six to 12 years) enjoy themselves learning in a more traditional way (New Zealand perspective) or in a scary ‘creative’ way (Bangladesh perspective). The secondary school is small and challenging; turning English Second Language kids into students who are capable of an international exam is a huge ask which causes me to pull my hair out regularly.
It’s all worth it though, and we are a part of something bigger than just passing exams. Our aim is to provide excellent English Medium education at affordable prices to our communities, producing students who are good citizens and who reach their God-given potential.
The 2011 establishment of CSCC (Collectorate School and College of Chandpur) was a miracle—the local Government approached us asking that we turn an old jail into a school.
At CSCC, we have about 340 students, a beautiful campus, an outside playground, a garden, and a climate so damp and humid our resources are often covered in mould! This school has been set up with mostly Muslim staff (Bangladesh is 90% Muslim) who we have trained. The teachers are educated and caring but use an archaic learning by rote system; this has meant considerable work to impart the vision and skills needed to encourage real learning.
The latest in CSCC is our special needs unit. The region has nothing for students who are intellectually disabled, severely autistic, or have other forms of disability. We started with four students, but the authorities have suggested 70. That’s another huge challenge and I predict another rollercoaster ride ahead.
BEST (Bangladesh Education Services and Training), our third project, is even bigger. We aim to provide e-learning for thousands of students without access to good schools and teachers—watch this space.
Education opens the doors to input into the lives of young people, both students and teachers. Please pray for the positive effect New Zealand Baptists can have on Bangladesh. And, if you are a teacher looking for adventure, why not come and join us?
Making a difference
Pastor Paul Cossey writes of a recent visit made by a team from Darfield Baptist to GEMS. (You can read Paul’s full report on the Tranzsend website: tranzsend.org.nz.)
Our Church motto says, we are “Here to make a difference.” We figure that means here and overseas, so that’s what we did.
In 2016, Paul and Angela Cossey and Bev Elder, a retired geography teacher, took a trip to India and Bangladesh. Hearing stories of their experiences, particularly Bev’s visit to GEMS school in Dhaka, prompted consideration about how we could support this work further. Bev spoke of the need for teacher training, possibly using Skype, but her real desire was for a group of teachers to go to GEMS for a few weeks and help to upskill staff in practical ways.
In January 2018, that dream was fulfilled. A team of five, all with teaching backgrounds, travelled to Bangladesh to help Tranzsend’s educational work there. We left knowing this would not be a holiday, a reality that was recognised by the Missions Committee of Darfield Baptist Church, which funded us to go and reach out to others, sharing what knowledge and skills we had. This was very humbling and gave a real sense of representing those at home as we worked alongside those already working there.
On arrival, we found that what we had planned had to be immediately adapted to fit the needs of the schools. This built an even stronger bond in the team as we let the Lord take control. We found such joy in the giving and such reward to see teachers wanting to learn and try new skills.
Our trip also included time at a school in Chandpur, where we conducted training with the mainly Muslim staff. Our time at the Mission House was a welcome reprieve from the noise and pollution in Dhaka and, again, it was encouraging to see the enthusiasm of teachers to learn.
One of the most surprising things for the team was seeing how many Christians in Bangladesh (nationals and expats) are working to bless communities. These people are being used to provide education, healthcare, preschools, and training centres, and to help transform lives.
Recently Bev returned to Dhaka on a solo trip, to fill a gap while Cindy visited New Zealand. It was wonderful to hear that seeds sown amongst staff were clearly bearing fruit, as the local teachers acted on the belief that like Nehemiah, they were “doing a great work and could not come down.”