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Welcome to Dhaka

By: Kairos dela Cruz

After seven hours of air travel split into two connecting flights with a 12-hour layover in between, I finally arrived in the capital of Bangladesh. The travel was nice and became even more interesting when I was greeted by the famous Dhaka traffic jam; it made travelling to Makati from our office a piece of cake.

Things finally settled when I put my bag down in my hotel room. Instead of sleeping off the toll of travelling, I reread the invitation I received for the workshop here. I was asked to share our experience with the People’s Survival Fund, for a workshop titled “Strengthening Partnerships on Capacity Building and Finance for Local Climate Change Adaptation in Bangladesh.” I know it’s pretty lengthy but how would you put all these things together using fewer words? I tried understanding it for several minutes. It was like wrestling with too many thoughts at the same time, taking in everything and nothing. I wanted to break it down; it’s bite size information I want. I know I’ll need it.

The entire first night was spent with an ice cold glass of lassi (yogurt). Finding beer here is difficult. Anything will help to understand the event I am about to participate in.

The words make sense. The title makes sense. My role in the workshop? No sense yet. But whether I understand it or not, or whether I will understand it in time, it will still happen; I will give my talk.

The workshop will be held outside Dhaka and will run for three days with a good blend of participants from government ministries, non-government organizations, community organizations, and academic institutions. The workshop will begin with an inception conference with high-level officials, most of whom will reportedly be unavailable for the three-day feat.

The next

morning, I took a walk around the neighborhood. It’s a nice place, fancy, to some extent. In between the second turn and the seventh rickshaw driver who smiled at me and said “Japanese”, I connected with the place. Bangladesh and the Philippines are not that different from each other, despite being in entirely different regions. This is so especially when it comes to the circumstances that both countries have to face in responding to climate change impacts. Poor governance, disconnected national and local planning, limited access to direct climate funding, and vulnerability statuses that are off the charts, it is as if we are following a formula of some sort.

It took several minutes for me to take it all in. I’m gaining back the old confidence I carry around whenever I’m conferring with climate advocate colleagues in the Philippines. I’m becoming more confident, and I’m becoming more excited than concerned about the role I’ll play in the workshop.

When my new found friends, Reaj and Galib, came to fetch me and provide a short background of the event, I was already overflowing with verve. Do I have all the answers? Not really. But I’m certain I have a contribution to make, which can help share elements of answers with the mix of people I will be talking to soon.

So, let’s do this. I can’t wait.

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