Volunteering in Bangladesh at Rishilpi

When travelling for extended periods of time, it is easy to reach a point of tiredness, when everything seems a bit jaded. The joy of zipping from one place to the other across the travel maps becomes increasingly less exciting, and we may be craving for something more, something “different”.
When this happened to me, I decided to dedicate some of my travel time to others in need: this year, as I was exploring the Indian subcontinent, I brought along a guitar which I used to entertain street children and the disabled. But for as much as this sounds interesting in writing, it was not easy to earn the trust of the many NGOs I contacted proposing my project. I actually have to say that the response was so small and disheartening that what started as my main objective had to be tuned down and reconsidered because of the overwhelmingly distrust I found all around.

However, all of the hours I spent sending emails to NGOs offices were not completely wasted: at least, I had the chance to visit the incredible Rishilpi project in Shatkira, Southwestern Bangladesh, a mere 70 km from Kolkata. Vincenzo Falcone, the always smiling Italian project manager, came to Bangladesh 35 years ago as a missionary in nearby Khulna. After having studied the language and served in Khulna for several years, he decided to get more involved and set the foundations for today’s impressive Rishilpi: a space where, besides providing free education for the poor and physiotherapy for disabled children, Vincenzo has developed a leather factory – giving work to many otherwise unemployed people – and a center for the purification of waters. Many years of hard work have configured Rishilpi as a little oasis outside busy Bengali small town Shatkira, a place you would probably not consider visiting in such a less visited country: but Rishilpi is the reason why you should, and you can.

During my brief one week stay, I managed to participate to the art class performing in front of children with special needs, and also organized a lecture about my travels in the Subcontinent for the older students. You may not believe it, but in Bangladesh travelling is perceived as a very dangerous past time: it was therefore very interesting to see how these kids reacted to the images of India, Nepal and the ethnically different Southeastern Bangladesh I showed them.

There are many departments and activities at Rishilpi, and volunteers are welcome to join bringing in their expertise: if you have a volunteering idea, Vincenzo would be happy to listen to it and welcome you if you can help. As he told me, “everybody can bring in their own thing, as long as they do it with their hearts, and are dedicated in bringing some help to the people of Shatkira’s division”.
If you feel inclined to do something for the needful, and keen in dedicating some of your time to a country that, despite a worldwide reputation as a disaster-zone, has a lot of incredible secrets to unveil, you should consider Bangladesh, and you should contact Rishilpi. It is rare to receive such a warm welcome and feel as useful and respected as it happened to me in Shatkira…

Posted by | Comments (1)  | August 16, 2012
Category: Asia, Destinations, Volunteering Abroad

One Response to “Volunteering in Bangladesh at Rishilpi”

  1. Siva Batumalai Says:

    Hi 🙂

    My name is Siva and currently I am with this international NGO called SOLS24/7, with whom I have been for a couple of months now and so far it has been such a wonderful experience and great opportunity for me to give something back to the community. At SOLS24/7 we specialize in educating the poor with English language, basic accountings, basic IT and basic Maths, as well as some community development projects. And currently we are accepting more volunteers and trainees across the globe. For further info, you could visit the site listed below any time.

    Cheers 🙂