Dear Friends, I wanted to update you on some recent events in Bangladesh. As many of you know, there was a tragic loss of life in the past few weeks following the collapse of a garment factory building outside of Dhaka. Over 1,000 people have died. However, our workers in Bangladesh were able to help save lives and comfort the injured in their time of need.

A New Lease on Life

Dear Friends, Doing the work we do, it is sometimes hard to qualify the effects we have on people's lives. We can come up with statistics we say that we help so many number of children get free education, or we have bought this number of kids new school books. However, it is much more challenging to describe how this impacts peoples lives in a personal and spiritual way.

More Success!

Dear Friends, Every year, the government of Bangladesh provides a national scholarship for its best and brightest students. Only students with high academic achievement can even sit for the required exam. Students who achieve the scholarship get some financial assistance for their education, but, more importantly, they get some much-deserved recognition. Schools also use it as a barometer of their success of failure.

More Success!

Dear Friends, Every year, the government of Bangladesh provides a national scholarship for its best and brightest students. Only students with high academic achievement can even sit for the required exam. Students who achieve the scholarship get some financial assistance for their education, but, more importantly, they get some much-deserved recognition. Schools also use it as a barometer of their success of failure.


dear friends, I first must apologize for my long absence from this blog. However, I have a great deal of news to share. First off, it is with great pleasure that I can say that, as of December, 2012, Basic Needs Program, Inc is an official, federally recognized charity! This has been a four year project for us, and I have to give the lions share of credit to our amazing business manager, Jen Hubbard, who really went above and beyond to make this a reality. Now both we, as an organization, and our donors can rest assured that Basic Needs is here to stay

New Orphanage

Dear friends, We have been working now for over a year to create our new orphanage for the village of Goichechia, Bangladesh. I can say now that we are officially open for business! Four adorable little children have joined the basic needs family, and will be cared for in the same building that contains the Susan Hubbard School. I will tell you the story of one little boy in order to elucidate the reasons why such an institution is necessary. In the neighboring market town of Raibazaar, there was a boy who worked for pennies serving tea at an outdoor restaurant.

Making Connections

Dear friends, when you work in the developing world, you quickly find that plans go out the window pretty quickly. You make plans for new programs, but once you get on the ground, those plans must be able to bend to what people actually need. So whereas we originally thought of creating a clinic for local kids, we found that the logistics and funding for such a stand-alone institution to be prohibitive. However, we did find opportunities to help in other, more organic ways.

What We Do

For those who don't know, there has recently been a scandal in which Greg Mortenson, who famously penned the book "Three Cups of Tea" about his efforts to bring schools to rural Pakistan and Afghanistan, was accused to fabricating much of the story on which his fame is based. This news has sent shock waves across the world of international charities, and has affected me personally as Mortenson was a personal hero of mine. His story also has forced me to reflect on my own work in Bangladesh and on how I portray it to potential contributors in the states.

A Day in Dhaka

Recently, I found myself in between meetings in a certain part of the Dhaka, and so I decided to stroll over to the national museum, a kind of Bengali Smithsonian encapsulated in a single building. As I strolled through the airy corridors of the museum, I saw ancient works of artistic mastery, ranging from Buddhist Sculpture to Mogul Armor to great works of wood, cloh, and ivory. There is such a history here, stretching back thousands of years and dynasty upon dynasty.

A School for a Village

Dear friends,

back to my (second) home!

dear friends,

(6/4-5/11) The Village

Going to the village takes around 4-5 hours in a microbus that is rented by the day. The rural areas we drive past are beautiful, vibrant green landscapes that make me wish I was more in touch with nature. Due to the poor condition of country roads, the drive is unbelievably bumpy, enough so to launch me from my seat several times (there are no seatbelts). On the way there Sohan stops to buy a live chicken that we stored in a lidless box between my legs. It felt weird cradling and sharing a seat with what I knew would end up my dinner in a few hours.


We made a day trip to the village yesterday to finish our collection of demographic and medical data from our sample of 40 children five years old and under, not an easy task. Even though we could not understand the mothers without a translator, in this case Sohan and his brother and sister, there was still a sense that they were all extremely eager to help us with whatever project we had planned. Such a kind and giving group of people.

(6/3/11) The Slums

Sohan took me to see the slums, which consisted of over 500 thatch/tin shacks living in an abandoned flooded lot. The structures themselves weren’t that bad, but the source of water, the sewage, the lack of contraception, the shortage of school, and the unprotected child labor make a hefty set of problems. The water is illegally diverted from city pipes and isn’t sanitary. The residents can’t use electricity to boil it and fire wood is too expensive with their meager salaries. As a result diarrhea (the topic of my research) runs rampant.

Back to the Village

We just spent some more time at the village, actually beginning the first parts of our medical research, taking height measurements for 39 children under five years old as well as other measurements. We then spent some time with Rajib listening to some medical issues of the chidren, diagnosing them, and then listening as he prescribed them necessary medications to get from the village bazaar for conditions ranging from diarrhea to joint pain. Sadly, though they do have the prescriptions, probably 90% of children will never see those medications as they cant even come close to affording them.

(6/1/11) The gym

Sohan took Pat, Nate, and me to join a gym of which consisted of a large, unairconditioned room with a few sets of free-weights and several rusty/squeaky but still functioning machines. Working out here is pretty uncomfortable; just walking up the stairs to get to the facility leaves you decently sweaty, and because the fans often stop working due to frequent power outages, you pretty much bathe in sweat while you workout. The other gym goers are fun and like exchanging workouts with me.

(6/2/11) Baby beggars and bike accident

On our way to the mall, Sohan, Nate, Pat and I crammed our sweaty selves into an undersized, under maintained, and definitely overused taxi that had a broken speedometer, cracked windows, and stalled frequently at traffic lights. There aren't really any road rules other than 'get out of the way' which makes the drives really fun and scary. Each time our vehicle is paused at a light, we are bombarded by come-to-your-car street vendors, often children, selling us fruit, flower necklaces, newspapers, or simply begging. Some are super friendly and cute and try to speak English with us.


(5/30/11) Touchdown in Dhaka

After 19 hours in flights without a working air conditioner, and from sitting next to four crying infants on all of them, I emerged at Dhaka International Airport sweaty and with a headache. Waiting for my ride, a security guard tried to trick me into giving him a large amount of money after I used his phone. Scared to anger a man with a weapon, but unwilling to pay him money, I just look at him wide eyed for a few seconds and then turned around and walked away.

First Week

Sorry its taken so long, internet access was limited for a while. We've nearly been here a week and have spent a lot of time just adapting to the style of life. Visiting the village where the school is located, as well as the slums, has been a very humbling experience and has certainly put a lot in perspective. Playing soccer with the students and being followed by them wherever we went was a lot of fun though. All being well, the food is good, though I did spend a day in bed not feeling well.

The Journey Begins

Leave for Doha at 1050 EST. Dhaka, comin at you.

A Sobering Reminder

Dear friends,

Penn State Abington students recgonized for work with Basic Needs!

hey friends! I wanted to congratulate students from Penn State Abington, who have recently been given awards for their work on behalf of their student body, and for their amazing fundraising efforts for Basic Needs. This small group of students have raised almost $5,000 this semester! A write-up is below, and a picture has been posted to our "image gallery" section. Way to go Penn State Abington!

Car Wash for Kids

dear friends, recently, students from Penn State Abington took it on themselves to raise funds for Basic Needs Program. They recently succeeded in raising a substantial sum for our work through a car wash. Below is a description of the event, written by our dear friend, Donna Monk:


dear friends, recently 10 students at The Susan Hubbard competed in a national scholastic exam which qualifies them for a government scholarship. The results are in. Out of the 10 students, 5 won the scholarship. 1 received the award for the second best score in the county, and another two tied for the best in the county! But the topper goes to a little girl named Marufa. She scored not only the best in her school and county, but the best in the whole district of Netrokona, which has a population of 2 million! Congratulations to our teachers, who work so hard for so little pay.

Medicine to Heal a Village

dear friends,

Some Nice Recognition

dear friends,

Basic Needs has been so blessed recently by the kindness and generosity of so many donors, volunteers, and media members, that I don't even know how to guess where we got such luck! one awesome recognition which has come our way has been the Excellence in Medicine Award from the American Medical Association.

New Beginnings!

Dear friends, This is my first blog on our new website! I know it has been a long time coming and I thank everyone for their patience with us while we sorted out our technical issues. I hope this blog will serve as a way to keep people updated on the going's on in the Basic Needs Program.