|From left to right: Linda Waldman, Iqbal Ahmed, Suralini Fernando and Mamunur Rahman|
On my most recent trip to Bangladesh, I did something very unusual for me. I arranged to join the IDS Alumni in Dhaka for a reunion dinner. What an amazing evening!
We were a small group of four and we pooled our knowledge of the IDS community – ‘how is John Humphrey? Where is Marzia Fontana these days? Is Robert still doing his workshops for all IDS students’? I was asked all about the recent changes at IDS and I heard about lots of students I haven’t managed to keep track of over the years.
We shared our insights of Dhaka life and politics, what and where to eat, easiest ways to get around and what work everyone is doing. Everyone is doing such interesting work: Iqbal Ahmed researching climate change and children; Suralini Fernando is part of the Child Rights Governance Team at Save the Children and advocating for the Bangladeshi government to produce a child budget; Mamunur Rahman is working for the Bangladeshi Government heading up a Small and Medium Enterprise Foundation and still working hard on women’s empowerment.
And of course, we discussed current issues: Argentina and Brazil’s chances of winning the World Cup being hotly contested and asking 'how guilty is Oscar Pistorius?' Discussing Bangladesh’s amazing achievements in relation to the MDGs and its hopes for Vision 2021 and of South Africa’s BRICS status. All as we sat in Nando’s and enjoyed its food.
Inevitably, IDS’ work also came up, particularly gains made in CLTS (or, Community Led Total Sanitation) and policy makers’ ongoing awareness of Robert Chambers’ ‘Voices of the Poor’. All in all, a really interesting evening of light, engaged and thought-provoking conversation.
Okay, so its not part of my commitments, and I still have unread emails, but I feel refreshed and invigorated. Thank you Mamunur for encouraging me to meet the Alumni and for all the behind-the-scenes work that you did to make this possible. From now on, my travel itinerary will include Alumni reunion meetings whenever possible.
By Linda Waldman, IDS Research Fellow