My over-riding memory of this visit was feeling cold for the first time in nearly twenty years!   Winter arrived late last December so it was reluctant to leave, and nights were definitely chilly.   Our buildings are not made for cold weather so I was very pleased to have an electric heater in my room, and a cosy warm blanket on the bed.   Daytime temperatures, however, were lovely.

My first surprise, on being met by Zakir at the airport, was to find dear Tanvir in the car.   He is presently an intern in Biman’s catering organization and had taken time off to be with me in Bhola.   The children too were thrilled to see him again for the first time in many months.

My second lovely surprise, on reaching the ghat, was to be greeted by five of my dear boys including Sahadat, of course.   They had travelled to Dhaka with Zakir, and we had a lovely dinner together on the launch.

The atmosphere in Bhola Garden gets better each visit.  Zakir has divided the staff into separate departments with each department head taking full responsibility.  This works very well indeed and allows Zakir to spend more time in Dhaka, where he will be concentrating on much needed fundraising.

We had 74 children resident during my visit, as well as an average of 10 day pupils attending the ‘Sunshine Centre’ for children with learning difficulties.  This is in the large first floor room in the Tailoring Building, wonderfully decorated to appeal to these dear children.   I was lucky enough to meet them and their parents at our picnic on Eunus’s farm soon after arriving, as Zakir had cleverly invited them to come along, paying for their food.   This meant we were nearly 150 people at the picnic!   Fortunately we now have outside catering!   The family who run a restaurant in the village now prepare all our food, meaning they get the best produce at the best prices and all the family help with the cooking.   The picnic was excellent.

The boys, as ever, were busy with welding and carpentry.    Thanks to our physiotherapist Nasmul they are also making assistive devices to sell.  And Hossain, our little blind boy,  is being taught to make furniture by blind Mamun, which will also be sold.We ended my visit as usual with Sports Day, and a farewell tinged with sadness since I suspect this will be my last visit.  The journey is just too long for me at my advanced age!   Luckily my fellow trustees will continue to visit, and I will continue to communicate with the children on video.   But we will all miss the hugs.

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