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Influential Asian women launch new group to help Oxfam and women in South Asia

UK South Asia Season 2013: British Council – Connect, Create, Collaborate

BritBangla Artist Amina Khayyam presents Yerma, a kathak dance show

Professor Muhammad Yunus Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

'Oitij-jo' the celebration of Bangla culture

Bangaldeshi creativity and culture gains a South Bank showcase

Oxfam at the O2 London MELA 2012

Ranjit Gogoi's Bihu dance troupe at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

Three years after Cyclone Aila many Bangladeshis are still struggling

‘The Silks Yard’ from Dhaka to Spitalfields

Launch of SAVortex 550 hand dryer “far superior on all counts,” says Energy expert at EMCOR

BritBangla Promotes The Art of Networking

Launch of Zee Cafe: Putting Bengali community at the heart of its programming

Greetings from Bangladesh can make a world of difference

UK Asian Community Cup 2010: London Tigers and Chelsea Football Club

Rana Begum - New works: No.207

Rezia Wahid's New Exhibition: Woven Air

Sarah Sayeed Launches new Single: Black IS

British-Bangladeshi production at London Film Festival The Last Thakur

Musicians Zoe and Idris Rahman's new album Where River Meets

Shahin Badar's long awaited album 'LAILA'

Brands are the key to Bangladesh’s Opportunity of a Lifetime

Mass e Bhat:
70 minute documentary treatment

The Battle of Plassey Young People’s Project

Bangladesh Visit in February by Dr Wali Tasar

Bangladesh Flood Fundraiser Event Raises £5000

Shahin Badar 'Glory of India Award Winner'

Girls Orphanage BritBangla Fundraiser Update

BRAC: brings third world development successes to UK

The Women Who Left the Village Inspirations Exhibition

The Beauty of Bangladesh by Ishrat-Jahan Chowdhury

Shahin Badar Tours Lebanon and Germany

BritBangla Celebrates Book Success

Bangladesh Opens its doors to UK Investors

Influential Asian women launch new group to help Oxfam and women in South Asia

The Asian Circle whose aim is to help Oxfam and women in South Asia launched at the Houses of Parliament on the 7th November. BritBangla is supporting this network.

More than 1 billion people in the world today, the great majority of whom are women, live in unacceptable conditions of poverty, mostly in the developing countries. Oxfam is working with women in South Asia to help them with agriculture, education, cope with disasters and pull them out of poverty. Oxfam also works to reduce all forms of violence towards women, by helping to change attitudes.

The event ‘Promoting Violence Free Lives For Women’ was chaired by BBC reporter Ayshea Buksh and featured Alok Sharma MP for Reading West and Inspiring Storyteller Seema Anand.

The Asian Circle is a new creative initiative with a high profile association of influential women working in partnership with Oxfam. The aim is for the members to use their specialist skills, experience and resources to make a difference to the lives of women living in poverty.

Santosh Bhanot (Founder and Chair of the Asian Circle) said: "We were delighted with the launch of the Asian Circle and it is really important for us to be able to play a vital role in helping to eradicate poverty and reduce all forms of violence towards women in South Asia. Seeing such a great number of people coming together to help bring change was so inspirational. Our focus now is to work towards that change with the skills and talents of such amazing women who are part of the Asian Circle."

Members of the Asian Circle are a group of passionate and highly influential women from all walks of life which include writer, journalist and activist Rahila Gupta and award winning author and columnist Lady Kishwar Desai.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam’s Chief Executive said: “It is very inspiring to see these individuals coming together to use their knowledge and wealth of experience to help people living in poverty in South Asia. Having such a talented and influential group of women helping Oxfam’s work is very exciting and will pave a new ground in the fight against poverty.”

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UK South Asia Season 2013: British Council – Connect, Create, Collaborate

BritBangla was invited by Sir Vernon Ellis, Chair of British Council, to attend the UK-South Asia 2013 season reception with a performance by Suhail Yusuf Khan and Dan Walsh from Folk Nations Project. The season focuses on the importance of cultural relations between the UK and South Asia.

At the reception guests included British Council team members, Regional Directors and its key stakeholders and partners from government, civil society, the creative industries, media and the private sector. One of the guests most proud to meet was the famous fashion designer Bibi Russell who believes fashion can be used for social good and who's reputable brand has provided work for thousands of weavers and artisans.

The British Council aims to highlight and promote the connections between the UK and South Asia. BritBangla met with members of their senior leadership team, Shreela Ghosh, Director South Asia Arts, Rob Lynes, Director of the British Council India and Rosemary Arnott, Bangladesh Country Director who works with a vibrant team in Dhaka, Sylhet and Chittagong. BritBangla looked to explore opportunities for collaboration and partnership working on education and arts to build cultural relations.

BritBangla hope to work on future projects and supporting the V&A Museum on South Asian arts and British Library Bengali literature and arts.

Those who are unfamiliar with its work, BritishCouncil are a UK charity for education, culture and development services.

The British Council’s UK – South Asia Season 2013 promotes opportunities to connect, create and collaborate in the fields of education and culture between the UK and countries across the region, namely India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Iran. With the rapid progress and growing challenges, there is an increasing need for British Council to come together to foster an exchange of knowledge and ideas and develop opportunities for future collaboration.

South Asia’s has a 1.6 billion population of which 20% are aged 15-24, there is a next generation emerging. UK has over 2 million people of South Asian heritage and powerful diaspora connections to their region. South Asia has rapidly-growing economies, rising middle class, as well as conflict, extremes of poverty and low literacy rates.

Bangladesh: Did you know…?

· 50% of Bangladesh population are under 30 and university enrolment has tripled over 5 years to 2.2 million
· rise in the sea level in coastal Bangladesh over the next 40 years could create up to 20 million climate change migrants.

Read more in the South Asian Season Brochure

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BritBangla Artist Amina Khayyam presents Yerma, a kathak dance show

Amina Khayyam Dance Company presents, Lorca’s classic tragedy transposed from rural Spain to inner city Britain. The company uses the Indian classical dance form of Kathak to tell the anguishing story of Yerma who suffers heart breaking social torment of a childless marriage that forces her to commit a horrific and an irrevocable act.

The show is choreographed and performed by Amina Khayyam along with three principal dancers, who are all her students; Iris Chan; Lucy Teed and Seetal Gahir, and features original music by Tarun Jasani that will be performed live by musicians: Debasish Mukherjee (tabla), Lucy Rahman (vocals)

James Barralet (cello) Ryan Madhok (cello)

“I grew up with stories around me from my own community where if a woman was unable to bear a child, she would automatically be at fault, she would be discarded away! The family would then force the husband to re marry so he may get a second chance to have a child. Although this is not the case with Yerma, everything else in the story resonates.” Amina Khayyam

YERMA(‘barren’ in Spanish) was written in 1934 by Federico Garcia Lorca, and performed that same year as a play, which the writer described as a ‘tragic poem’. The play often performed as a dance-theatre tells the story of a childless married woman living in rural Spain. Because of the time she is living in, she is expected to bear children. When she cannot, she is forced to measures of rebellion that those in her society would view as extreme, but which ultimately sets her free from the cultural expectations.

Amina Khayyam Dance Company re-imagines the story from the religiously influenced patriarchal society of Spain to inner-city culturally diverse Britain where in many cases women are found facing similarly challenging and difficult cultural norms that subject them to peer humiliation in their communities.

“I approach the re-telling of Yerma with the passion of Kathak using Abhinaya - the gestural facial expressions - as the central movement within it, but I subvert it so that my Yerma wears a face of death – there is no prettiness, no jewels, glitz, or glamour. Rural Spain of Yerma transposes to inner city Britain: some values remain the same.” Amina Khayyam

choreography and principal performer: Amina Khayyam
original music: Tarun Jasani
dancers: Iris Chan, Lucy Teed, Seetal Gahir
musicians: Debasish Mukherjee (tabla), Lucy Rahman (vocals)
James Barralet (cello) Ryan Madhok (cello)
costume and design: Keith Khan
lighting and production : Stuart Walton

produced as a co-production with zeroculture, and in association with Collage Arts, The Artta, supported by Arts Council of England from Lottery Funds

video clip:

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Professor Muhammad Yunus Awarded Congressional Gold Medal

The Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus was presented with a Congressional Gold Medal in the Capitol Rotunda on 17 April 2013 at the U.S. Capitol ceremony.

Ceremony weblink:

It was to recognize his contributions to the fight against global poverty and his effort to promote economic and social change. He is credited with developing the concepts of microcredit and microfinance,through which very small loans were extended to entrepreneurs too poor to qualify for traditional bank loans. He received the Nobel Peace Price in 2006.

The Gold Medal represents Congress’s highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.

US Congress awarded the medal to Professor Yunus in 2010 in recognition of his efforts to combat global poverty. Professor Yunus has won international acclaim for developing the concept of microcredit and using that model of lending to promote economic and social opportunity.

Professor Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, is one of only seven people in history to have won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. The previous individuals who have done so are Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Elie Wiesel and Norman Borlaug.

Professor Yunus is a revolutionary, the founder of microcredit, the founder of social business, the founder of Grameen Bank. An advocate for empowering the poor people. His ideas couple capitalism with social responsibility and have changed the face of rural economic and social development.

As with his Nobel prize he has dedicated the present award to the people of Bangladesh.


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'Oitij-jo' the celebration of Bangla culture

London's South Bank offers the exciting opportunity to explore and discover amazing Bangladeshi creativity and culture, from the UK and beyond!

BritBangla is pleased to support 'Oitij-jo' the celebration of Bangla culture, a special three-day event at the South Bank, London.

Oitijjo means ‘heritage and future', it's an opportunity for you to explore the rich and diverse influences on Bangladeshi culture and art from the Indo-Aryan, Mughul, Turkish, Arab, Persian, Afghan and the British.

BritBangla, with the support of celebrities, Bangla communities and professional/entrepreneurs, is promoting the best of UK Bangla creatives drawing to the mainstream's attention and encourages the creation of innovative businesses including ethical and fair trade.

Oitijjo will feature the following:

  • Beautiful Benarasi and Jamdani silks + saris exhibition
  • Rezia Wahid weaving workshop
  • Ethical Fashion Show
    Film screenings + live performances + talks + discussions + fashion shows
  • Photography by Shahidul Alam and Enamul Hoque
  • Pop-up bazaars - designer clothes, fashion accessories, crafts, books + jewellery
  • A series of 'Adda' - a form of debate hugely popular in the Bay of Bengal area
  • Oitijjo +BritBangla Special event:showcasing BritBangla creatives: Giaroye, Sanchita Islam, DJ Kabir, Shahin Badar, Rukia Begum

Celebrities participating include Liza Aziz, dance star Akram Khan, the MOBO award-winning jazz pianist Zoe Rahman, internationally-respected photographer Shahidul Alam, highly-rated world music band Lokkhi Terra, Shahin Badar, award winning singer, Tahmina Anam, award winning novelist , and the acclaimed textiles artist Rezia Wahid MBE.

Oitijjo representative, Maher Anjum says: "Bangladesh is often seen only as a poor country, beset regularly by natural disasters and this view is very incomplete. In fact, Bangladesh is enormously rich - with a long history of producing beautiful artworks, crafts, literature and fabrics, and with many artists and designers, both in Bangladesh and in Britain, taking inspiration from Bangla culture and materials. Oitij-jo will help to encourage UK individuals and businesses to discover the creative wealth of Bangladesh, leading cultural exchanges to new trading of benefit to both countries."

Runi Khan, of Culturepot Global adds: " What is truly exciting now is how a new generation is exploring and experimenting with their heritage and developing it in innovative ways which appeal strongly to a very broad range of audiences - not just those with connections to Bangladesh. So we see Akram Khan wowing a global audience at the Olympics Opening Ceremony with dancing evolved from the Kathak traditions and bands like Lokkhi Terra getting rave reviews for their Bangla folk and Baul-influenced World Jazz. The same is happening across many other art-forms, including art, fashion, film and literature - as visitors to Oitij-jo will discover to their delight."

11am till 7pm, Friday 22 - Sunday 24 February 2013
Bargehouse | Oxo Tower Wharf | London SE1 9PH
Free access to exhibitions and stalls

Tickets to Oiti-jo + BritBangla Special event + Networking:

Info + Tickets to special events with free day pass access:

You Tube:

Ethical Fashion: Pure Barasari Silk Fashion - upcoming designer Rukia Begum

Copyright: Photo - Enamul Hoque

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Bangaldeshi Creativity and Culture Gains a South Bank Showcase

11am till 7pm, Friday 22 - Sunday 24 February 2013
Shahidul Alam, Enamul Hoque, Akram Khan, Shahin Badar, Zoe Rahman & Rezia Wahid join other artists, designers, makers, musicians, speakers and writers for the UK's biggest ever celebration of creativity and culture from Bangladesh and by UK Bangladeshis.
Bargehouse | Oxo Tower Wharf | London SE1 9PH

London's South Bank will play host to the UK's biggest and most vibrant showcase of Bangladeshi creativity next month when a three-day celebration of art, craft, design, fabrics, fashion, literature and music takes place at the Bargehouse from Friday 22 to Sunday 24 February.

Dance star Akram Khan, the MOBO award-winning jazz pianist Zoe Rahman, internationally-respected photographer Shahidul Alam, highly-rated world music band Lokkhi Terra, Shahin Badar, an award winning singer/songwriter, and the acclaimed textiles artist Rezia Wahid MBE will be among the celebrities appearing alongside a new generation of designers and makers, cultural commentators and craft historians at Oitij-jo - - a title created from the Bengali words for heritage and future.

The festival is being organised by a broad alliance of UK-Bangladesh trade bodies, business people, community groups and cultural organisation led by the Bangladesh Brand Forum UK (BBF-UK), Culturepot Global and Paraa

BBF-UK spokeswoman Maher Anjum explains: "Bangladesh is often seen only as a poor country, beset regularly by natural disasters. But this view is very incomplete. When it comes to creativity and culture, Bangladesh is enormously rich - with a long history of producing beautiful artworks, crafts, literature and fabrics, and with many artists and designers, both in Bangladesh and in Britain, taking inspiration from Bangla culture and materials. Our hope with Oitij-jo is that it will encourage more UK individuals and businesses to discover the creative wealth of Bangladesh, leading to new trading and cultural exchanges of benefit to both countries."

Oitij-jo will occupy all five floors of the Oxo Tower complex's Bargehouse - offering exhibitions of silks and saris from Benarasi and Jamdani; photography by Shahidul Alam and Enamul Hoque; live performances, fashion shows, a Rezia Wahid weaving workshop, parties, film screenings and activities celebrating the history of muslin, the fabric first introduced to Europe in the 17th century.

There will also be a pop-up bazaar selling designer clothes, fashion accessories, crafts, books and jewellery and a lively programme of talks and discussions including a series of 'Adda' - a form of debate hugely popular in the Bay of Bengal area.

Another of Oitij-jo's organisers is Londoner Ruhul Abdin, one of the founders of Paraa, an architectural and design social enterprise, working to improve the built environment of disadvantaged people in Bangladesh, including a minority community of silk weavers .

He says: "One way to improve living standards in Bangladesh is to create new income-generating opportunities for those families which grow or make materials which can be put to creative use. Oitij-jo is a chance, then, for many more people to discover the resources Bangladesh has to offer, so opening up new, fair and culturally and economically enriching, possibilities for all."

Runi Khan, of Culturepot Global adds: "In the past, the creative traditions and artistic talents of Bangladesh have been largely overlooked. What is truly exciting now is how a new generation is exploring and experimenting with this heritage and developing it in innovative ways which appeal strongly to a very broad range of audiences - not just those with connections to Bangladesh. So, for instance, we see Akram Khan wowing a global audience at the Olympics Opening Ceremony with dancing evolved from the Kathak traditions and bands like Lokkhi Terra getting rave reviews for their Bangla folk and Baul-influenced World Jazz. The same is happening across many other art-forms, including art, fashion, film and literature - as visitors to Oitij-jo will discover to their delight."

For the general public, Oitij-jo will be open daily from 11am to 7pm, with free admission on all three days to the ground floor and first floor exhibitions, fabric displays, merchandise area and film shows.
£7.50p day pass (£5, concessions) grants access to the wider programme, including the pop-up designer clothes and accessories shop, more exhibitions, a weaving demonstration by Rezia Wahid, talks, music recitals and the Adda series of debates, curated by Leesa Gazi .

In addition, several separately ticketed evening and special events are planned, including a launch party with performances by State of Bengal and Shapla Salique; a cultural debate involving Akram Khan; the Rezia Wahid weaving workshop; a discussion about the work and legacy of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore featuring a performance by Zoe Rahman, and Sunday's night's festival finale with Lokkhi Terra.

For more details and bookings, please see Further information and updates are also available from the festival's Facebook page - Oitijjo London - and via @oitijjo on Twitter.

Oitij-jo's chief organisers are the Bangladesh Brand Forum-UK, Culturepot Global and Paraa. Additional sponsors/ supporters are the Bangladesh High Commission, London; British Bangladesh Fashion Institute, Gandhi Foundation, OpenVizor, the SME Foundation (Bangladesh), Atique Choudhury of Yumyum Thai restaurant, Enamul Hoque of Underbelly Films and Rushanara Ali MP

More information + Tickets W:

You Tube:

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Oxfam at the O2 London MELA 2012

Oxfam is proud to have been an official partner of the O2 London Mela on 19 August 2012. It was a magnificent day and 82,000 people are estimated to have attended the event! Amidst the music, dance and family picnics, Oxfam had a chance to showcase its long history of working in South Asia.

"We have had an amazing time at the Mela and the spirit has been that of fun and celebration. It's not just an Asian festival, it's a cross cultural festival and it's been an amazingly vibrant day! Oxfam has also had a great opportunity to raise awareness of it's long history of work in South asia. To be chosen as a partner in the O2 Mela's 10th year was a great acknowledgment of our dedication to working in the region.",said Jane Cotton, Oxfam's head of HR.

A special Oxfam film for the MELA was made see via the link below:

The timing of Oxfam’s involvement in the Mela was of great significance. Oxfam is marking its 61st year in India this year, it marked its 40th year of working in Bangladesh last year and will be marking its 40th year in Pakistan next year. Our recent work in the region has included flood prevention in Bangladesh, supporting projects in India and working alongside Amir Khan to raise funds for schools in Pakistan.

Oxfam will also be taking part in next years Mela and are already looking forward to it's involvement, it will be highlighting the 40th year of working in Pakistan.

Other performance highlights included:

- The Philharmonia Orchestra in collaboration with award-winning vocalist Jaz Dhami, Bhavan Centre and Bollywood Brass Band gave a spectacular performance, which included the London premiere of Holst’s “Indra”.
- Stranger Family, a collective of the five foremost artistes in the British Asian music industry today, sent the crowds wild.
- Ustad Ali Hafeez Khan headlined the Eid Stage, celebrating the end of Ramadan and the holy month of fasting.
- The BBC Asian Network Mix Tent, hosted by Nihal, where resident DJs kept the crowd dancing throughout the day – with a special guest spot for Radio 1’s Tim “Big Dawg” Westwood.
- The Vibrant Mela Carnival, which featured dancers and drummers from around London and the world

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Ranjit Gogoi's Bihu dance troupe to perform at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on Saturday, 18 August, 2012

Don't miss the colourful Bihu dance performance from ASSAM at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan performed by Ranjit Gogoi's 13 member dance group with (dhol, pepa, gagana, buffalo horn). This event has been organised by FASS (Friends of Assam and Seven Sisters) in collaboration with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on Saturday, 18 August, 2012 at 6:00pm - 8:00pm

Bihu Dance:
Bihu is the National festival of Assam. Irrespective of caste, creed and religion the people of Assam celebrate Bihu with much pomp and gaiety. It is the most popular folk dance of Assam.The mood of spring is celebrated with bihu dance - one of the unique art forms of India with the accompaniment of lust and beats of drum along with indigenous instruments like buffalo-horn pipe young boys and girls clad in golden Muga silk sing and dance to the tune of seductive bihu songs oven around the themes of love and passion. It is an experience out of this world. Assam's culture has a rich heritage of fairs and festivals which are celebrated by her people in great merriment including the tribes, other communities and people in general.

Choreographer - Ranjit Gogoi:
Ranjit Gogoi is a household name in Assam as a well-known Bihu dance choreographer. He is the chief workshop director in Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalashetra, Guwahati. The popular artist of North-East India - Ranjit Gogoi and his troupe been have performed at various countries in the world including Russia, South Africa, Seychelles, Re-union-Island, Mauritius, Bhutan, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Switzerland.

Bihu dance performance:

About Assam:
Assam situated at the foothills of the Himalayas is a tiny state (78,438 square kilometres) in the Northeast corner of India and is linked to the rest of India by a narrow corridor between Bhutan and Bangladesh. Assam is renowned for its flora and fauna and for its natural resources and minerals. Assam is the richest state in India. It provides 55% of the total tea produced in the country, 60% of crude oil and 100% plywood for India. Over and above this a considerable amount of coal, jute, timber and 95% of the world's syllemnite are produced in Assam.

Assam was an independent kingdom until 1826 when it came under British rule and became part of India . In fact, the British entered Assam in 1824, and introduced tea cultivation and now Assam is the largest tea producing country in the world. The Kaziranga National Park of Assam is famous for the world's wonderful and endangered creature, the one horn Rhinoceros (Rhino).

Weaving is the traditional craft of the Assamese, the women of almost every houshold take pride in their possession of a handloom. They use their handlooms to produce silk and cotton clothes of exquisite designs.

Mahatma Gandhi complimented the Assamese weavers as artists who could weave dreams in their loom.

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Three years after Cyclone Aila many Bangladeshis are still struggling with food and water shortages

A massive cyclone which hit Bangladesh in May 2009 is still having a devastating effect on the lives of many people in the country three years after the event, international humanitarian agency Oxfam said today.

To coincide with the three year mark, Oxfam is appealing for the Government of Bangladesh and the international community to provide additional funding to support an estimated 50,000 people still affected in the Southwest of the country.

Many of those still affected haven’t enough food, safe drinking water and a means to make a living. They also lack adequate shelter and face a fresh risk of their homes being washed away by this month’s monsoon rains, which are anticipated to threaten millions including an estimated 200,000 people who were affected by cyclone Aila, mostly in the Shatkhira and Khulna district.

“Every night we go to sleep in fear as our house is just on the edge of the dam and that may disappear with a surge of water anytime, especially in the monsoon,” said Saleha, 40, who lives with her family on an embankment in Gabura, Shatkhira district.

Cyclone Aila, which swept across areas of southern Bangladesh and eastern India on 25 May 2009, caused widespread damage and affected around three million people. In southern Bangladesh, the cyclone caused a tidal surge which broke through poorly maintained coastal embankments. In south western districts, especially in Shatkhira and Kulna, people living in the coastal villages were forced to flee to raised embankments as houses and crops became submerged under water.

The Government of Bangladesh requested around £700 million from the international community at the time of the disaster to enable full recovery, but received only around one per cent of the required resources from outside sources.

Oxfam’s initial response to the cyclone reached up to 100,000 people with clean water, sanitation and environment cleaning through a cash for work programme. In 2011, the agency provided food support for more than 200,000 people and this year is continuing to provide 25,000 people with safe drinking water, sanitation and food support.

"This was an awful disaster that persisted for more than a year - people were unable to even begin the recovery process,” said Gareth Price-Jones, Oxfam’s Country Director for Bangladesh. “As with many disasters in Bangladesh that are ignored by the world, the survivors are left more vulnerable to future disasters that we know are on the way. Without greater support the situation can only worsen, at a huge cost in human suffering."

Photographs can be found at this link:-

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‘The Silks Yard’ from Dhaka to Spitalfields

A dazzling showcase of the brilliant Benarasi and Mirpur Silk fabrics took place in the heart of Spitalfields on Thursday, 24 November 2011. A perfect setting with its deep connection with the silk-weaving community that migrated from India and Bangladesh, and with other artisans of silk, the French Huguenots.

The catwalk event focused on the vibrant hand woven silk produced by the Urdu speaking minority community in Bangladesh. International fashion designers from the UK, India, Germany and Bangladesh created a platform to highlight the striking versatility of the fabric and the future of the people who produce them.

Bangladesh is famous for its beautiful Benarasi silk - which was the centrepiece of the show - produced by the Urdu-speaking minority community in Bangladesh. This charity event was Paara’s first project that will help create a library for this community, who until recently held refugee status and continue to live in sub-standard conditions. The aim was to highlight the fabric to a new audience ensuring long term sustainability. The vision is to create a centre of learning which will become a repository of cultural heritage.

The international designers used the stunning silk of the Benaroshi Polli Market of the Mirpur district in Dhaka as their inspiration – brought artistry and integrity to their collections, challenging out-dated perceptions.

The fashion designers that showcased were Tootli Rahman (Bangladesh), Caroline Drewes (Germany), A.B. Walliuddin Ahmed Chowdhury (Bangladesh), Kuhu Plamondon (Bangladesh), Karishma Shahini (India), Rahemur Rahman (UK), Maryam Bilal (Pakistan), Rukia Begum (UK) and Fatima Guenzaouz (Morocco). Each designer was tasked with reinterpreting the exquisite silk material, producing a distinctive collection that was presented at the show.

Paraa worked with Dr Lynne Hammond of London College of Fashion and internationally renowned catwalk producer Deborah Britz and a professional design team to prepare a visual feast. The show was hosted by a special guest, with music, entertainment, light refreshments and intimate after party, providing all the ingredients for an extraordinary event.

The event was attended by Bangladesh High Commissioner Dr M. Sayeedur Rahman Khan. Ruhul Abdin and Abdul Hannan the founders of Paraa thanked all the guests and its team for delivering its first project.

Ruhul Abdin said "Paraa is about collaborations between people and working together towards a socially just world. The team is slowly being put together and over the next year we will look to strengthen the team and look forward to some very exciting projects and events!"

Samiul Kamal-Uddin, BritBangla Executive, said "BritBangla congratulates Paraa on this excellent project and is pleased to support its first project to help the communities in Bangladesh."

BritBangla members supported this event: Music by State of Bengal and photography by Enamul Hoque.

Full information about Paara:

Photographer: Enamul Hoque

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Launch of SAVortex 550 hand dryer “far superior on all counts,” says Energy expert at EMCOR

London November 29th 2010. “Innovation for Success” recently took place to celebrate Sustainability, British Innovation, British Design and British Manufacturing and where Syed Ahmed, CEO of SAVortex Ltd, launched their latest eco-smart hand dryer; the first 10 second dryer using 550 watts that recovers energy and cuts cost whilst drying hands.

Syed Ahmed said : “We find ourselves in tough economic times and in a race against climate change, business leaders must take a lead and look at ways of implementing sustainable practices that reduce energy use through the businesses which ultimately cut costs, this is absolutely is critical to success”.

Innovation for Success was hosted by ITV's Daybreak Newsreader Tasmin Lucian Khan with expert speakers throughout the evening on energy saving and sustainability including David Penfold, Sustainability and Innovation Manager Sainsbury’s and Hassan Atiq, Energy expert at EMCOR for British Airways. Tasmin opened the forum by asking “Is a low carbon economy compatible with economic growth? Later she discussed how low carbon businesses would be driving the economy of the future.

The smart regenerative Vortex 550 dryer excited the audience. The unique patented vortex technology and regenerative heating technique replaces the conventional heating elements found in the majority of today’s hand dryers. The Vortex smart digital technology recovers energy and saves money whilst being used and has been life tested to one million hand dries and comes with an industry leading 5 year warranty ensuring a sound energy saving investment.
Vortex pioneering patented technology breaks up water droplets on the skin accelerating drying times and no other dryer comes close to an average 10 second dry for only 550 watts making it the most energy efficient in its class
Hassan Atiq from EMCOR who have provided facilities management services to British Airways since 1992 tested and evaluated the dryer went on to add "The Vortex performed well above others and was far more superior on all counts. In my opinion it wins hands down”. He went on to talk about the importance of energy efficiency and urged everyone to look at where they can lead by example, “Be lean, be green and be clean.”

David Penfold, explained that Sainsbury’s lead the way in energy efficiency and are currently running one of the largest energy reset programmes in the UK on their existing stores. David went on to say "Energy efficiency was without doubt the way to go, the hieracy of reducing energy use first before trying to generate it is not only true but common sense”. He stressed that “behavioural training is key to success."

Steve van Dulken Information Expert at the British Library went on to congratulate Syed and his SAVortex team on their diligence and success so far. The British Library was instrumental in providing SAVortex with research and guidance in the early days with their Patents. He added “with less than 3% of filed patents getting through, SAVortex have done very well in such a short period of time with three filings to date".

SAVortex delivers low cost, fast, quieter drying in a longer life unit.

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BritBangla Promotes The Art of Networking

BritBangla’s upcoming networking event to be held in Birmingham on 31st July, will provide an important platform for young professionals to increase their networks and opportunities to further advance themselves in the job market.

Organised by BritBangla in partnership with Russell Jones & Walker solicitors, the event will provide an arena for developing networking skills and gain valuable professional contacts.

BritBangla, a national association that brings together South-Asian professionals, is encouraging those new or returning to the job market to master the art of networking especially if they are to survive the current economic climate.

BritBangla’s aim is to support the young professionals to further their career and recognises that it is vital for young graduates to sharpen their networking skills to put themselves at a better advantage as their academic knowledge itself is sometimes not enough to secure that dream job. There is a need for professionals to pick up networking skills during difficult or early stages of their career to help them in their future advancement.

“Young Asian professionals who have just started their career may not see the benefit in networking but it is an important skill which can open doors in the future” said Diana Khanom, BritBangla Midlands Lead.

“You need confidence to network, more so if you are a minority. Many young professionals are unaware that despite Birmingham city’s rapidly growing ethnic population, only 20% of those working in the professional, financial and business services sector in Birmingham and Solihull are from black and ethnic minority groups.”

To encourage members to build their networking skills, BritBangla hold regular events where members can network informally to build self-confidence and links with more experienced professionals. The organisation is run by dynamic individuals who volunteer their time to actively promote the talents of British Bengalis, one of the youngest and fastest-growing south-asian communities.

“There is an ever increasing number of South-Asian professionals and entrepreneurs in the UK so it is vital to support each other in these difficult pressing times” said Diana Khanom.

BritBangla Midlands is holding a Quiz Night on Saturday 31st July at Spice Buffet restaurant in Yardley. Details at or for information email

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Zee Network, the leading South Asian TV Network in the world, is to launch a fifth channel in the UK with over 24 hours a week dedicated to Bangla shows.

Zee Cafe will start broadcasting today on Sky. For the first four days after launch, 15th -18th July, the channel will be free to air to showcase its content.

Zee Café will feature the most popular shows from Zee Bangla, which is the No 1 Bangla channel in Bangladesh. In the UK, Zee Café will give the Bangladeshi and Bengali speaking audience access to the best in genre shows like Agni Pariksha, Devdas, Kohna and Dance Bangla Dance.

Zee Café will also offer exclusive international cricket tournaments, news, current affairs and business shows.

All Bengali fiction shows will be sub-titled in English to extend the appeal to all viewers. With such variety, Zee Café guarantees a stimulating mix of programmes which will appeal to the entire South Asian diaspora - a mix that cannot be found elsewhere.

In the current economic climate, where consumers want value for money, Zee Café will be added to the Zee Pack*, which includes Zee TV - the leading South Asian entertainment channel as well as Zee Cinema - the 24 hour Bollywood movie channel, at no additional cost to new or existing subscribers giving even more quality content at the same great price.

Zee Café will start broadcasting on Thursday 15th July 2010 on Sky.

For the first four days after launch, 15th -18th July, the channel will be free to air to showcase its content.


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Greetings from Bangladesh can make a world of difference

Rob Jenkinson of Sreepur Cards has been working with the Sreepur Village project in Bangladesh for more than 20 years. He has been helping them develop an income generating business to support the Villlage that is home to over 500 abandoned children and more than 100 destitute women.

Sreepur Cards,, was set up to sell high quality handmade cards from the project. Rob has pursuaded British Airways to ship the cards at no cost and they run the web sales with a team of volunteers. This way they are able to return all proceeds to Sreepur Village.
The team are very keen to promote in the British Bangla community

Earlier this month in June 2010, there was a terrible fire in Dhaka that killed 150 people. The children at Sreepur decided to do some fundraising for the victims and their families. They agreed to give up a tiffin [ morning snack] + one meat meal for a week and donate the money saved.
The Prime Minister of Bangladesh heard about their generous efforts to help and invited them to meet her and present the money. When they met her they gave her a Sreepur Card and she loved it.

The paper for the cards is made at Sreepur Village and women from the local community have been trained to decorate the cards with locally sourced natural products. They have gained fair-trade recognition of their work which provides a vital income for those in an area of extreme poverty.
The cards are shipped to the UK at no cost by British Airways World Cargo and sales are handled online by a team of volunteers so all proceeds can be returned to the UK charity that runs Sreepur Village.

A range of beautiful handmade greeting cards are now available online at
All proceeds from the sale of these cards are returned to Sreepur Village, a home for abandoned children in rural Bangladesh. The Village gives hope and opportunity to over 100 destitute women and more than 500 children.A range of beautiful handmade greeting cards are now available online at

All proceeds from the sale of these cards are returned to Sreepur Village, a home for abandoned children in rural Bangladesh. The Village gives hope and opportunity to over 100 destitute women and more than 500 children.

Your birthday greetings can make a real difference to those in need.


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London Tigers and Chelsea Football Club UK Asian Community Cup 2010

The final of the 8th Annual UK Asian Community Cup was held on 10th May 2010 at Stamford Bridge, home of Premiership Champions Chelsea FC. The two finalists were 2 time winners London Tigers and last year’s runners up Punjab United Sports from Wolverhampton.

This is a very prestigious football tournament for the Asian community in UK, the participating teams are amongst the best of the best Asian football Clubs up and down the country including from Glasgow, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

London Tigers started well, winning a free kick 30 yards from the goal early in the game (25th minute). Adil Salih took the free kick and delivered a fine ball which floated inside the penalty area to find Edson Cata at the back post who volleyed the ball into the roof of the net (1-0). Punjab United almost scored an equalizer immediately, however, the ball was cleared of the line by Tazmul Ahmed after great work by the keeper Kieron Jimmy. The rest of the half was pretty much end to end play with no other clear chances. Half time (1-0) to London Tigers.

In the second half Punjab United were fortunate to be awarded a free kick from 28 yards. Manraj Dhillon scored a superb free kick which went over the wall and into the net to score an equalizer (1-1). Nearing the end it looked as if the game would go into penalty shoot out, with neither teams having clear advantage over their opponent. However in the last 5 minutes Terence Cariba went inside the penalty box with one defender opposing him. However he overcame the obstacle to drill the ball in the right hand side of the goal in the 88th minute 2-1). Punjab United fought hard to put some pressure on London Tigers in the final few minutes but to no avail. The game ended with London Tigers becoming champions for the 3rd time with a 2-1 victory.

“It is a great feeling to be 3rd times champions again and total of four times in final in 8 years.” says Mesba Ahmed, CEO of London Tigers. “The celebrations were overwhelming as we picked the winning trophy on the same stadium as Chelsea FC lifted the Premiership silverware the day before”.

The UK Asian Community Cup is an annual football festival organised in partnership with Chelsea FC and held every year since 2003. This festival creates a pathway for Asian players towards mainstream football and provides a platform for amateur Asian teams to display local talented players.

London Tigers is an innovative community led sports and youth organisation working across London Boroughs of Westminster, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Newham, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets. London Tigers provides sporting and lifetime learning educational opportunities for Black Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME) and wider multi cultural community of London to actively become the new young leaders of modern Britain and dynamic British citizens. As a Bangladeshi led organisation working with multicultural Londoners, their work has been recognised nationally and internationally with support from institutions.

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Sen's artful rendition of Kunal Basu's novel, The Japanese Wife.

People who’ve seen and really loved the film include Shabana Azmi, Raju Hirani, Ayan Mukherji, Zoya Akhtar and Nandita Das.

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Rana Begum - New works: No.207

Rana Begum will be showcasing her work from 5 February - 02 March 2010 at 29 Catherine Place, Westminster, London SW1E.

Initiated during her residency in Beirut, No.207 (2010) vigorously pursues the artistic potency of line and colour; whilst exploring the possibility of reducing complex elements to their vital parts. Extracting banal hardware from its utilitarian context, Begum limited her materials to commercially available drinking straws, in five standard colours (fluorescent green, yellow, pink, orange and black). Composed entirely of glowing lines, the resulting modular superstructure demonstrates the generative potential of Begum’s systematic application of the limited vocabulary of commercially available fluorescent materials.

No.207 is rooted in Rana’s observation of the urban milieu, the aesthetic possibilities of the city and the implications of architectural modernism. Renewing her commitment to serial and rational forms and their subsequent emphasis of phenomenological strategies, Rana’s work sets out to transform the overpowering associations of urban debasement into poetic entities: No.207’s fluorescent colours evoke Beirut’s buzzing night scene, and the convoluted modular shapes recall the chaotic maze of a metropolis.

Dealing with architectural propositions as much as with the formal possibilities of Minimalism, No.207 is an attempt to condense the urban experience to its most significant elements, to abstract analogous visual stimuli and subsequently articulate them into concrete forms and lights. Feeding on the architecture of a space, cutting lines across and reorganising it according to abstract cartographies, No.207 draws powerful associations between culture, architecture and design, and reinvents our relationship to artificial spaces.

Rana Begum (b. 1977) graduated from the Slade with a MFA in Painting. She has exhibited her work internationally including Jerwood Space (London), The City Gallery (Leicester), BU Gallery (Bangkok) & The Third Line (Dubai), and has a forthcoming solo show at Bischoff/Weiss (London). Rana has recently completed a Delfina Foundation residency in Beirut, Lebanon.

Artist Talk: Rana Begum in conversation with Charles Danby 17 February 2010, 19:00 - 20:00
Charles Danby is a writer and curator based in London. He is a co-founder of PROJECKT, a curatorial research partnership that considers new media technologies through broadcast and live event. He is a guest curator at the Siobhan Davies Studios, London, and is the 2010 curator at Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium in Norway. Charles has written for international arts publications including Flash Art, Frieze, Art Issue and Art Review.

Limited seats available, early rsvp essential:


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Award Winning British Bangladeshi Textile Maker Rezia Wahid MBE Offers a Unique Insight into Islamic Spirituality in New Exhibition Woven Air

Award winning British Bangladeshi Textile Maker Rezia Wahid MBE showcases her exhibition of silk hangings WOVEN AIR from 19th September-31st October at The City Gallery, Leicester in collaboration with the national crafts project The Shape of Things (TSOT) and the Crafts Study Centre. TSOT focuses on issues of cultural identity in contemporary crafts practice and aims to encourage a more diverse market and audience that is representative of the society we live in today. The phrase 'Woven Air' is derived from the word 'Baf-Thana' in Bengali and Wahid uses it to describe her work, with an emphasis on air, reflective calm, peace and tranquillity. Drawing on a wide range of influences from the spirituality of Islam and associated art and architecture; history; an English upbringing and worldwide travels; Wahid is able to communicate cultural, religious, social and political history through her craft.

In her weaving, Wahid draws on the rich historic 'jamdhani' technique from Bangladesh, which produces the finest muslin in the world. Using the technique, Wahid dyes her own colours using both natural and chemical dyes and is able to inlay motifs such as leaf patterns into the main cloth. Her emphasis on light and transparency can be interpreted both as an attempt to express, and as a yearning for 'divine light and wisdom' - a crucial theme in all disciplines of traditional and modern Islamic Art. Her other sources of inspiration come from Nature, Japanese Kasuri , Egyptian cottons, Chinese silk, English merino wool and Japanese yarns.

"When I am weaving and at work I feel very spiritual and close to God. I purposely leave unfinished edges in order to keep the cloths free and 'dancing' in the air. Thus, traditional cloths juxtapose their original meaning and become a contemporary artform. People can feel peace and tranquillity as well as feel inspired to wear, feel, touch and dance with the cloths! In this way I hope that my work can help build a bridge between crafts and contemporary art."

Wahid attended the Chelsea College of Art and Design from 1994-1995 and was awarded a first class degree from Surrey Institute of Art and Design in 1998. She went onto teach Art, Design and Textiles at Warwick School for Boys from 2001-2008 encouraging boys to break the gender stereotypes connected with females and their long associated link with textiles. She took up post at the new co-educational school Fredrick Bremer School in Sep 2008 and was awarded an MBE in 2005 for her services to the textiles industry.

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Sarah Sayeed launched her new Single Black IS

Singer, MC and lyricist Sarah Sayeed has launched her new single, Black IS… from her forthcoming debut album. Emerging talent Sarah Sayeed was first recognised by the music industry when her music was featured on the Homegrown podcast presented by Ras Kwame on BBC 1Xtra. BBC Radio 1 DJ, Bobby Friction (Future Friction) also described her "as a 360° conscious artist".

Having toured the UK, Europe and the US over the last five years, Sarah Sayeed has developed her skills as a live performer. She has also spent quality time in the studio working with unique producers from London, Manchester, San Francisco and Toronto. Sarah Sayeed continues to develop as an international artist as she is currently working on the Sydney Hip Hop Theatre Festival in Australia.

Sarah Sayeed was born in East London with some of her childhood years in Bangladesh and spending most of her 20's in Manchester. She came back to her London roots a few years ago to launch her music. Over the years, Sarah Sayeeds' ears have tuned into many artists that have influenced her, including Roxanne Shante, Tribe Called Quest, Blondie, Marvin Gaye and Madonna.

The wealth of Sarah Sayeeds' experiences have been beautifully captured in her thought provoking lyrics, smooth singing vocals and articulately fired MC skills.

When Sarah Sayeed performs live, her music combines beats and samples, strings and brass instruments, culminating into a sound that has a universal appeal. This press launch is an opportunity to see and hear Sarah Sayeed perform live as well as learn more about the artist and her work.

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Artificial Eye Secure World Premiere at The Times 52nd BFI London Film Festival with First Production - The Last Thakur

The much awaited The Last Thakur is set to have its world premiere at the London Film Festival on 25 October 2008 at the National Film Theatre (NFT1). This first HD feature shot wholly in Bangladesh and featuring Tariq Anam (Thakur), Ahmed Rubel (Chairman), Tanveer Hassan (Kala), Anisur Rahman Milon (Tanju), Jayanto Chattopadyahay (Mustafa) the biggest names in Bangladeshi film, and television.

The film is also the first ever British-Bangladeshi production selected to the London Film Festival.

A modern-day Western set in a Bengali village; a story of revenge and the search for personal identity. The village Chairman has his election victory tainted by the arrival of a stranger with a gun. When the stranger sides with the Chairman's arch nemesis: Thakur, bullets fly in the sleepy backwater village. It soon becomes apparent that the stranger has his own motives for revenge.

Sadik Ahmed directs (making his feature debut) and Atif Ghani from Aimimage and Tamsin Lyons from BreakThru Films Produce, music composed by Kishon Khan and Birgir Clausen. Philip Knatchbull from Artificial Eye and Nik Powell from the NFTS are Executives on the productions.

The film draws on a solid British-Asian talent pool, drawing on strong UK and Bangladesh production resources. The film could not have come together without the key facilitation of Bangladesh Production Consultant Ms. Runi Khan. Bangladesh advertising agency Adcomm through Screaming Girl Productions enabled the UK-base production to draw on the untapped talent pool in Bangladesh.

Writer/Director Sadik Ahmed is a British Filmmaker of Bangladeshi origin based in the UK. Sadik's film Tanju Miah, a short film about a young tea boy living on the Sarail Road, was an international success with awards from the Royal Television Society, the Grierson Foundation for British Film (Finalist), Turner Classic Shorts (Finalist), MySpace-Mymovie Mash-Up (Finalist). Tanju Miah was specifically selected for screening at the Toronto International Film Festival 2006. The film was also the first ever Bangladeshi film in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2007. Tanju Miah was screened in the Curzon Cinemas UK, March to April 2007.

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Musicians Zoe and Idris Rahman Discover their Heritage Through Bengali Music and New Album - Where Rivers Meet

Drawn to the Bengali heritage of their father, Mercury Music Prize Nominee Zoe Rahman (jazz pianist) and Idris Rahman (clarinet) began listening to Bengali folk, film and popular music from the 1950s which opened up an undiscovered world of beautiful melodies, poetic vocals and gentle rhythms. Mesmorised by the sounds, the brother and sister duo created the album WHERE RIVERS MEET and combined their talents in a unique way to create jazz-inspired interpretations of Bengali music including songs inspired by Nobel Laureate Rabindrath Tagore; Abbasudddin and Hementa Kumar Mukerjee amongst others. Featuring the exciting vocal star Arnob from Bangladesh concerts will take place on Saturday 1st November at the CBSO, Birmingham and Tuesday 4th November at the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, South Bank, London followed by a UK-wide tour.

Born in Chichester, UK, Zoe studied music at Oxford University and jazz performance at Berklee College of Music, Boston. Zoe and Idris were inspired by the idea for the album when their father Mizan Rahman was ill in hospital. Transferring some old music from cassettes onto a CD, Zoe became intrigued by the sounds and subsequent trips to Bangladesh allowed Zoe to learn about her background through music. She says of the experience:

“We wanted to learn about our family heritage by delving into this rich musical source and hope that in the process the songs will be seen in a new light by those who already know them. Perhaps they will take others on a journey of discovery similar to the one we have experienced through making this album”

Father Mizan Rahman says "I have been inspired and amazed at the music Zoe and Idris have created. The reaction from Bengali audiences on a recent British Council-sponsored tour to the subcontinent was ecstatic. The tracks are well-known tunes and well-loved lyrics and the audiences reacted to the jazz-inspired music with enthusiasm. The album is also very accessible to non-Bengali British audiences also.”

Brother Idris Rahman says “This album represents a very personal journey that Zoe and I have taken into our own culture through music directly taught or recommended by our father, cousins and other close friends and musicians. In doing this we have learnt more about our father's background and our Bengali roots and feel a little closer to a culture that we weren't surrounded by when we were growing up… we hope to continue to explore the wealth of artistic achievement that is waiting to be discovered in our father's country.”

Guest singer, Bengali star Arnob adds breath-taking resonance to songs ‘Amar har kala korlam’ (Betrayed) and ‘Anondo dhara’ (Stream Of Joy)and other musicians include Kuljit Bhamra (Percussion); Oli Hayhurst (Double Bass); Gene Calderazzo (Drums) and Samy Bishai (Violin).

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Long Awaited Album 'Laial' by the Chant Legend Shahin Badar!

Award winning and leading British Asian vocalist Shahin Badar releases her debut solo album Laila and returns to the music scene for the first time in nearly two years.

Laila features a blend of Arabic, English and Indian influences that showcases a talent that lead to collaborations with the likes of AR Rahman, Jah Wobble, Twista and Juliet Lewis. It is a strong offering of 18 solid cuts, which are edgy, tripping and hypnotic beats and chants. No dance floor is likely to be empty when tracks like Doleh Reh from Mercury nominated Choque Hosein, Jhoom Jhoom, Laila, and Andheri Raai hit the decks.

Shahin is best known for the Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up which featured her spine tingling chant on their multi million selling Fat Of The Land album giving them and Shahin Billboard and UK No. 1 chart positions and entry into the Guinness Book of Records as the fastest selling album at the time. For this she received a double platinum disc and a place in music history. Shahin featured on two further Prodigy albums that enjoyed UK number 1 chart positions. She has worked with dance maestro Tim Deluxe on the single Mundaya, which was chosen as an ‘Essential tune of the week’ by BBC Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong.

Shahin’s distinctive vocals have also featured in over 30 Hollywood and Bollywood films including Academy nominated Closer and Charlie’s Angels, US sitcoms North Shore and Kevin Hill and Shyam Bengal’s Zubeidaa. Shahin supported leading US rapper 50 Cent when his tour took in Lebanon with award winning producer Guy Manoukian at The Biel, in front of a 20 thousand strong audience followed by an invitation to perform with chart topping Turkish artist Mercan Dede in Germany.

Shahin has already won Best Female Vocalist at the Asian Pop Awards; nominations for Ethnic Multicultural Media Award - Best New Comer; Asian Women of Achievement Awards - Arts & Culture; Muslim News Alhamra Award for Excellence and Channel 5’s prestigious Community Award – Glory of India thereby establishing Shahin as one of the most outstanding female Asian vocalists in the UK dance and British Asian music scene.

Release Date: 13th October
Label: ShahinBadar Records through Imprint Records
Distribution: Cargo
Price: £12.99

Available in all good stores! you can purchase your own personal copy from for £8.99 (Free dlivery)

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Brands are the key to Bangladesh’s Opportunity of a Lifetime
Toffael Rashid

In 2002 the acronym BRIC entered into financial and corporate language. Reputed investment bank Goldman Sachs had analyzed developing economies and identified Brazil (B), Russia (R), India (I) and China (C) as 4 countries that should receive focused investment as they were on the verge of explosive growth. At the time I was living and working as an expatriate in Mumbai for my then employer Unilever. Being British born and thus growing up in a very developed consumer economy, I was used to a very different way of life. Mumbai still had one foot in the past although the many signs of India’s dynamic growth story were very much in evidence.

The most vivid example of explosive growth I remember came from my daily listening of the car radio on the way to work. In 2002, India’s radio service was state owned, in Mumbai there were only 2 radio stations which broadcasted through medium wave and with a very limited menu of news and debates. Radio played a miniscule role in society and those who even owned one had very old machines capable only of broadcasting medium and long wave. Music was not played nor was their any radio advertising. And this in the city that hosts Bollywood with all its music and artists!

In 2002 the government privatized the radio industry. Six new FM radio stations were launched with great brand names like Radio Mirchi. Each of these stations was targeted at particular demographic and filled with music, phone-ins, radio drama and sports coverage. Suddenly everybody wanted to listen to the radio. Some very smart entrepreneurs imported laks of those slim credit card like radio receivers each with a small ear piece. In the space of a few days these small devices costing 100 rupee’s each were being used by everybody in the city: be they students, corporate execs, auto rickshaw drivers or fresh fruit market wallahs.

And so life as it had once been lived changed in a small but significant way. Today the industry is thriving employing many trained people who produce radio channels of high quality and which is part funded by radio advertising; a profitable industry built from scratch in less than 5 years.

The India growth story has of hundreds of examples similar to my radio example. Two factors keep its economy growing. The first is the mass migration of rural people into urban environments at a rate never experienced before in the history of the planet. As tens of millions of new people arrive with the ambition of a better life, working people already in the cities upgrade to the middle classes with more income than ever before to spend on consumer goods that better their lives in some way.

This ancient and historic nation is being utterly transformed by the proven model of capitalism. As new sectors emerge, many new brands are launched. Consumers in India have never had so much choice. And no matter whether it is from a multinational or a local company, it is through brands that consumers are making their choices.

With the BRIC economies fully set on the road for transformation, Goldman Sachs sought to identify the next developing markets ripe for growth. After applying rigorous criteria, 11 nations were identified, the so called ‘next 11’ or N11 nations. These include countries such as Iran, Mexico, Vietnam, Indonesia … and Bangladesh.

Bangladesh was identified as an N11 for many attractive reasons including its young, dynamic entrepreneurial and cost competitive labour force, opportunities to replicate its successful garments/textiles business model to other industries such as outsourcing and pharmaceuticals, having an investor friendly regulatory environment as well as the large natural resources in natural gas and coal. Last but not least, it occupies a strategic location between India and China in the heart of Asia. And so a golden opportunity awaits.

The transformational stories emerging from China & India indicate that if replicated, Bangladesh has as much economic potential. With Goldman Sachs ‘N11’ recommendations ringing in their ears, multinational corporations, investment speculators and public sector NGOs are analyzing the opportunities Bangladesh presents. It is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity; possibly the historic catalyst Bangladesh has been waiting for since its birth. And it’s finding plenty to get excited about. So all the possibility of a future full of promise.

However, there is a big danger that unless Bangladeshi entrepreneurs recognise this opportunity quickly, foreign outfits will steal the market place … and those profits forever! The key question for Bangladeshi’s is to ensure they benefit from the potential economic boom that ‘N11’ nation status investment will provide.

The Bangladesh Brand Forum was created in 2006 with a belief that the principles of marketing & branding should be a critical tool for societal upgradation. The legacy of our barter economy is that in pursuit of the lowest possible price, quality was always sacrificed and so across society, we are left with sub standard choices. At their most basic level, brands are shorthand for a promised level of quality, a ‘seal of authenticity’ for the particular range of benefits that a company will offer. If applied across the entirety of the economy and civic infrastructure it will, in one stroke raise our standards forever.

Our next step must involve the creation and maintenance of Bangladeshi inspired brands. Aside from telco, banking and basic household consumer goods, almost every sector has huge potential to create brands which offer consumer targeted benefits. These new brands must delight Bangladeshi’s who will treasure them as unique and wonderful manifestations of their national culture, feel a genuine emotional connection whenever they use or interact with these brands.

There are already some promising candidates: the likes of Grameen, Aarong and Praan have great potential. But there are also many other opportunities: I think Halim is a wonderful snack that people around the world are waiting to discover, I think its greedy that only Bengali’s know about the amazing flavor of Hilsha fish, the jute industry could be reinvented with innovative inventions given the global issue with plastic bags, the Sundabans & the world longest sea beach starting at Cox’s Baazar are destinations tourists are just waiting to discover … and there are so many more examples. If any or many of these opportunities were realized and the brands became international, the reputation and branding of Bangladesh would also dramatically change for the better.

Powerful brands are very good for the economy because of their wealth spreading ability. Research reveals that companies with big brands tend to generate anywhere between 2 ½ and 3 times as many jobs as actually appear on their payroll. As they expand, they hire more people and that increases the service businesses around them. They need more suppliers, they sell more precuts, the retail businesses do better, everybody pays more taxes, they hire more people, and so it goes on. When countries have less strong brands like Bangladesh, it does not get that effect.

It is these issues that we will be debating at length at the Bangladesh Brand Forum 2008. We believe that despite the temporary period of political uncertainty that we find ourselves, we are at a historic juncture in time. And those brave enough to grasp the opportunity through the principles of brand building will take first mover advantage. The train is about to set off …. Do you have the foresight and bravery to get on board?

The BANGLADESH BRAND FORUM 2008 took place at the Radisson Hotel on 26/27 April 2008. Website:

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Mass e Bhat: 70 minute documentary treatment

Since 2005, Hannan Majid and Richard York, working as The Rainbow Collective have been producing socially conscious documentaries, in the UK, South Africa, Iraq and Bangladesh, training young aspiring film-makers and distributing films through conventional means as well as through alternative platforms, such as in schools, teachers conferences and charity events with groups including Amnesty International and The Railway Children. Formed as a Social Enterprise and a Community Interest Company (C.I.C.), The Rainbow Collective has made it a priority to ensure that all its documentaries should be seen and distributed not only as traditional films, but as tools to be used in education, campaigning and the furthering of community cohesion. Likewise, Its privately commissioned pieces for charities, NGOs and educational/governmental organisations should be made as personal, creative and cinematic films, in addition to serving their original, practical purpose.

Due to its subject matter and vignette-based, modular structure, Mass e Bhat is ideally suited to be distributed not only through conventional channels, but as an educational tool, a series of fund/awareness raising films and in the production itself, a way of building partnerships and identifying work still needing to be done in the areas of children's rights, child labour and the alleviation of poverty in the sub-continent.

Bangladesh, 2008. From textile factories populated with child workers to the high-rise apartments of the noveau riche, from the idyllic rural heartlands to the rickshaw drivers of Dhaka city centre and their children, from the displaced and stigmatised Bihari people to the mystery of a disappearing mountain, "Masse Batte" paints a portrait of a country coming to terms with its status as a "developing nation". Through a series of interconnecting vignettes portraying real people and their everyday lives, the audience is introduced to the challenges, the dreams and the realities of a country forced to question the true meaning of development and its place in the wider world.

The true focus of Mass e Bhat is on the youth of Bangladesh and their potential for the future. Despite showing many of the positive aspects of Bangladeshi society, for example, the highest number of natural gas powered vehicles in any country in the world, the retaining of much traditional, sustainable culture in the villages, the most tolerant and forward thinking form of Islam to be found anywhere in the east, and so on, the film also presents some stark and harrowing stories of a neglected generation of children who hold the keys to Bangladesh's future but are unable to realise their potential due to poverty and inequality. Why do multitudinous schools stand empty while the children of the displaced Bihari people play in the polluted waters and rubbish strewn streets in the slums of chittagong? How can the country truly develop when the average child foregoes education, being expected and required to work for 2 pounds per week in order to support their parents and siblings?
What of the communities of children, building independent communities in the vast landfill rubbish tips, with no hope or achieving the prizes offered by Bangladesh's new economic development? We meet a rickshaw driver who's son is severely mentally handicapped but has been told that the government can only help and provide a wheelchair once the child is "A bit older".

Each of these aspects of Bangladeshi society are portrayed through a series of about 12 personal, intimate stories, avoiding third-person narration and allowing the people to speak for themselves and to tell their own stories in their own words. A combination of beautiful imagery and hard-hitting reality will accurately portray the contradictions and confusions of a country striving for change and improvement.

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The Battle of Plassey Young People’s Project

Brick Lane Circle has received a grant of £46,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to engage a group of young people (18-25) to explore East London’s historical links with Bengal through researching and writing about the area’s East India Company sites.

The project idea emerged out of the series of events that Brick Lane Circle organized in June 2007 to commemorate the 250 Years Anniversary of the Battle of Plassey (23 June 1757), when the British achieved victory in Bengal under Robert Clive. It was also the beginning of the British Indian Empire, under the banner of the English East India Company. The research findings will be put together in a publication, which will be launched during October 2008 Black History Month at a specially organized event at the Museum in Docklands. An exhibition illustrating the work of the young people, historical paintings and photographs and important documents will accompany the publication. The work of the young people will be made electronically available and an education pack will be developed.
The young people will undertake research on a number of East India Company sites in East London, an area dotted with important locations and buildings that have historical links with Bengal. It is also the home of the largest concentration of Bangladeshi people in the UK. The 250 Years anniversary events of the British conquest of Bengal (organized by Brick Lane Circle during June 2007) provided a focus for generating interest in learning about the shared heritage of East London. The young researchers will be primarily recruited from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and given workshops, guided tours, mentoring support and assistance in writing their chapters. These activities will help familiarise participants about important East India Company sites and their historical links with Bengal and provide guidance on the sources of information.

The East India Company first traded with the East and then conquered vast areas and ancient civilizations for Britain. It played a very important role in the British economic and imperial history for 250 years, starting from 1600 when the company was first chartered by Queen Elizabeth I. The successes and benefits that the Company achieved for Britain also had devastating consequences for India and Bengal in particular. This project will bring this shared history to light and generate interest widely through exploring and sharing knowledge about East India Company sites in East London .

It is envisaged that by becoming familiar with East India company locations and sites and their historical roles, the diverse communities in East London will develop a greater sense of connectivity and linked roots. This will increase the levels of interest on local heritage; enable more people to develop deeper intellectual, creative and leisure interactions with the area's past and help improve community cohesion.

The information generated and disseminated will result in a renewed level of interest on the heritage of East London, especially among the local Bangladeshi population, which means that there will be an increase in the level of desire to discover, preserve and publicise the importance of local heritage. More local people will understand and appreciate the value of many buildings and sites that they see every day around them - which previously had very little relevance to their life - and develop a deeper historical and worldwide perspective of their neighbourhoods.

The project will help diverse groups who live in the area to develop a greater level of understanding about how their neighbourhoods and surrounding areas are connected and the historical and local heritage sites will provide the anchor for such connections. This will enable people to develop a deeper appreciation of their shared and historically linked roots and thereby enhance the scope of celebrating both local heritage and the valuing of diversity.

Open Day, Sunday 1 June '08, 2 - 5pm, Whitechapel Idea Store
The event will look at the scope of The Battle of Plassey Young People’s Project; local East India company sites and researching about the area’s past links with Bengal. It will include presentations by Nick Robbins (author of The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational) and Dr Georgie Wemyss, who teaches Social Anthropology and South Asian Studies at Tower Hamlets College and is a visiting research fellow at Goldsmiths College

The Battle of Plassey Conference, Sunday 22 June '08, Whitechapel Idea Store. Further details will be provided in due course.

The Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Cllr Ann Jackson, said that she is delighted to hear the news and will personally support the project.

Nick Robins (author of The Corporation that Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational) said "“This is an excellent project which will bring to life the East India Company’s legacy in London”.

Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, London, Sue Bowers said: “This project will bring to light a history shared by Britain and India over hundreds of years by relating it directly to sites associated with the East India company in London. While researching, the young people will also gain skills in writing, photography, planning and team working.”

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Bangladesh Visit in February by Dr Wali Tasar Uddin MBE, DLitt, JP, Hon Consul General of Bangladesh in Scotland (19 February - 4 March)

Dr Wali, BritBangla Honorary Member visits Bangladesh this month.

"When I came to the UK I had nothing. I started at the bottom and worked my way up through commitment, dedication, hard work and practical study. I know about all the aspects of my business from the kitchens to the accounts to marketing. I believe that it's vital to give something back
to support the community and encourage the next generation of entrepreneurs." states Dr Wali.

Dr Wali Tasar Uddin MBE, DLitt, JP, Hon Consul General of Bangladesh in Scotland will be spending the last 2 weeks of February in Bangladesh, on governmental, cultural and charitable business. His packed itinerary includes meetings in Dhaka, Sylhet, Moulvibazr and Barguna District. He will be visiting areas affected by the devastating Cyclone Sidr (with Farah Kabir of Action Aid Group) to gather information about relief work and interviewing victims in advance of a major fundraising event in Scotland on 4th April.

The aims of the visit also include developing a proposed twinning arrangement between the City of Edinburgh and Sylhet and investigating possible partnership links with Edinburgh's Napier University and Heriot Watt University (both of which recently awarded Dr Uddin Honorary degrees) and the Universities and Colleges of Bangladesh, particularly to investigate the potential for training and educational initiatives for individuals specially from ICT, Business Managements, Textiles & Apparels, Hospitality And Nursing Training.

Dr Uddin's flagship business is the award winning Britannia Spice Restaurant (recent recipient of a special presentation by the British Curry Awards to mark the restaurant's unique achievement in winning the Best in Scotland Award for an unprecedented 3 years in a row; an occasion which was marked by an official motion of congratulations by the Scottish Parliament) and he is involved in the campaign to challenge the British government on recent changes in immigration laws which make it harder for UK restaurants to bring in experienced Bangladeshi chefs. On Sat 1st March he will be Chief Guest at the University Campus Social Development Centre (CSDC) of Dhaka inaugural Certificate Giving Ceremony for the Apprenticeship Programme for students and youths.

Dr Uddin will also meet with representatives from Bangladesh's garment and textile industry and the British High Commissioner to discuss development of training and trade opportunities between Bangladesh and UK, as well as representatives from the Bangla Scot Foundation, set up to develop cultural links between Bangladesh and Scotland.

He will be accompanied by a UK Cyclone Sidr Fact Finding team: Mr Enam Ali ACHIMA, FRSA (Editor, Spice Business Magazine), Mr Arjun Miah MBE (member of the BBCC), Mr Athair Khan (Managing Director of the Last Day RAJ Group), Mr Shamsuddin Ahmed MBE (Regional Board Member of Manchester and North West Region), Prof Abdul Hannan (Board member of BBCC Manchester and
North West Region), Mr Abdul Ghani (Mabrook Perfume Co, Dubai) and Mr Koysor Ahmed (MD Sylhet Welding UK Ltd, corporate member of BBCC UK) & Md Rezwan Hussain, Channel S TV UK.

Dr Uddin arrives in Bangladesh on Wed 20th Feb and will depart on 2nd March to return to UK, stopping off in Dubai where he will meet with Consul-General A Hye and Bangladeshi Dubai Business representatives.

A fundraising dinner in aid of the Cyclone Sidr appeal will be held in Edinburgh, Scotland on Fri 4th April at the prestigious Ingliston Centre, aiming to raise £100,000 (stg), with the aim of rebuilding a whole village (70 houses). Dr Uddin aims to find that village on his visit to the Barguna District, which will become the centre of the campaign in Scotland.

Dr Uddin is respected throughout Europe and Bangladesh as a successful businessman, a community leader and an outstanding humanitarian. He has been awarded many honours, including Young Scot of the Year, since he moved to the UK in the 1970s, starting out in a relatives restaurant. Many
years of hard work and study, combined with exceptional drive and business acumen have resulted in a portfolio of successful restaurants and business interests. This success in the business world has brought recognition from many sides. In 1984 Dr Uddin was the first Bangladeshi in Scotland to be
made a Justice of the Peace. In 1993 he was appointed as the first Honorary Consul-General of Bangladesh in Scotland and in 1995 he was made a Member of the British Empire for his services to race relations. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and, in 2003, was included in Debretts People of Today.

Respected as a community leader in Scotland, Dr Uddin chairs the Council for Bangladeshis in Scotland, was a founder of Edinburgh's Central Mosque and is a director of the Shahjalal Mosque and Islamic Centre. Dr Uddin is also Chairman of the Commonwealth Society of Edinburgh and the Bangla Scot Foundation. He is a founding Director of the Edinburgh Mela (the vibrant festival founded by Edinburgh's South Asian communities) and the Edinburgh Bangladesh Samity and was recently appointed Official Advisor to the Sylhet Foundation.

Dr Uddin's efforts have touched thousands of people over the years. Following the disastrous cyclone in 1991, he was instrumental in raising over £140,000 which was used to build a concrete cyclone shelter and Baharchara-Ratnapur High School. In 1998 he was involved in raising over
£220,000 to enable Onneyshan to oversee the construction of a model village and training centre. Dr Uddin is Director and Chief Co-ordinator of the Sylhet Women's Medical College and Hospital, a Trustee of the Bangladesh Female Academy and an advisor to the Atish Dipankar University
of Science & Technologies in Dhaka.

Web sites:

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Joint fundraising iftar event in aid of the flood victims in Bangladesh

On Thursday 20th September, three organisations The BobNetwork, BBPA and BritBangla held a joint fundraising iftar event in aid of the flood victims in Bangladesh. The lively fundraiser was held in Cafe Naz @ Corvina in London and was attended by 150 enthusiastic young British Bangladeshis. The evening proved to be a great success with dinner, an auction, raffle tickets and many generous donations. Among the auctioned items were a copy of 'A-Z of Arranged Marriage' autographed by the author Rekha Waheed, a collection of framed fabric art by Shozna, and a collection of Arabic Calligraphy by Shumi Islam.

The hosts created a great buzz and with Café Naz's attentive service and good food the spirits were high and the donations flowed in. The chairman of The bobNetwork, Misbah Mosobbir was the auctioneer and proved himself a dab hand on the night. His enthusiastic sales tactics resulted
in healthy bidding from the audience.

By the end of the evening, young British-Bangladeshis proved themselves to be generous and resourceful yet again with £5000 raised for the British Red Cross. They continue to make a difference with their contributions and exemplary efforts to support worthy causes.

Jasmine Choudhury, Solicitor said 'I enjoyed the iftar party as it was good to see all three groups work together and work towards the same goal' and Saiful Khan went further to say 'I thought the auction was a great idea. Met lots of new people and it a very friendly & generous crowd. A big well done to the team.'

Rebecca Payne of the British Red Cross commented 'On behalf of the British Red Cross I'd like to thank The bobNetwork for organising this fundraiser and raising the fantastic amount of £5000 for the Asia Floods Appeal, which will cover past, present and near future flooding events in numerous countries throughout the continent, including those currentlyaffected in Bangladesh. As we speak, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement are providing emergency relief to all the affected
areas. Volunteers are delivering food, water, basic healthcare and sanitation to millions of people who have lost everything in the floods'

Big thanks to Saquat Ali, for making sure the groups came together and the event went smoothly, 'Unique events' for the sponsorship and of course the artists for their donations

For photos of the night, for information on BritBangla website and forthcoming community events, please visit If you would like to donate to the British Red Cross for the flood appeal, please visit

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Shahin Badar 'Glory of Indai Award Winner'
21 July 2007

Shahin Badar,whose enchanting indian vocals featured on the prodigy's controversial single "smack my bitch up" had a lot to be happy about as on Saturday 21st of july, singer songwriter composer, Shahin, was awarded the prestigious Glory of India award by the India International Friendship Society (IIFS)at the noted Crowne Plaza Hotel,.

She spent her youth growing up in Colchester, Kuwait and India learning to sing in several languages.

Shahin has a profile of international work that continues to grow. This work includes vocal inclusions in over 40 soundtracks which include strong female TV, film and advert characters such as Nikita, Lara Croft, Scottish Widows and Charlie's Angels.

She has appeared on 3 UK No.1 albums, two of which were grammy nominated, collaborated with top composers such as A.R Rahman and many upcoming acts.

She endorsed many charitable causes such as the NSPCC, RNID (UK's biggest charity), flood appeals, headlined the UK's biggest one day carnival, Redbridge's first Asian music festival, launched London's first Children's Hospice's Children's week for the Richard House trust, worked on the UK's first
electronica album to hit the No.1 spot on the Billboard charts and many more impressive profile pointers.

Although not able to pick up the award herself, Shahin was delighted to hold the award in her hand and beam 'Women in the music industry, in fact, in most industries do not always receive the recognition that they should for their work and even when they have, they often have to do that much more to be accepted and recognised.This award is an honour for me because it serves as
recognition of my music and that of other women and this will go with my Channel S TV award for contribution to the community which I picked up last year'

Signed to Times Music in India, Shahin's current album is due for full release in uk soon and is entitled " Laila".

Among the previous recipients of the coveted award include Bollywood actor and film producer Dev Anand.

India international Friendship Society is a voluntary organization established to forge greater unity and integrity among the people of Indian origin living anywhere in the world and presents the awards to individuals who have attained excellence in their respective field of work.

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Girls Orphanage in Bangladesh - BritBangla Fundraiser
Taryn Khanam
17th January 2007

Here's an update and feedback to those who kindly supported the BritBangla fundraiser way back in May 2004.

I recently returned from Bangladesh and visited the Rainagor Girls Orphanage in Sylhet, and share wiht you some photos and an account of my visit:

When I walked into the orphanage the little girls immediately stopped playing, seeing me as a stranger they started to hide away with some running inside for cover. I could hear the girls whispering and huddling up in a group, obviously not used to outsiders. It took a few moments to
gain their trust and to engage them in small conversation. They looked on me with curiosity and I stupidly asked it they remembered me from my last visit (2 years ago), as if they would! The youngest is 'Nishi', a 5 year old, who cried for months when she first arrived there and still looked sad. Seeing the girls, I felt upset and especially guilty, as I was lucky to have my mum who was also with me at the time of the visit. I noticed that the kids obviously look after each other, and there is an amazing
spirit of sisterhood amongst them, which I was happy to see.

Project details:
Charity project: December 2004 - March 2007
Funds: £2000 spent on computer, 50 mattresses, books/pens, 3 teachers - Maths, English and sewing

Project Success:
The project was successful and this year five girls received all Grade As and Bs, due to the support provided for extra weekly tuition classes for Maths and English. The sewing classes provide the kids with a fallback plan when they leave the orphanage (at the age of 16) to support

The lesson learned is that from a £2000 donation, which is not very much at all, has made a difference as in a country such as Bangladesh which proves that even us from here in UK can help to improve lives of little people to give them a chance for a better future to support themselves.

You may wish to see for yourself the orphanage if you are visiting Bangladesh, please contact me.

Any donations would be very gratefully accepted or charity raffle prizes from businesses or potential sponsors of a charity event to continue fundraising for this good cause and make a difference to these girls lives.

If anyone wants to know more please do contact me at

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Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC)
Ishrat-Jahan Chowdhury
November 2006

Millions in Bangladesh have benefited from projects funded by BRAC. Now, the BRAC brings it third world development success to UK.

BRAC is a well known NGO founded off the back of the liberation war in 1972. It helped deal with the devastating effects of the armed struggle and post independence era, with a particular commitment to the rural poor who made up most of Bangladesh.

Throughout the years BRAC has run many programmes across Bangladesh. Some of their most successful work has been in targeting mortality reduction, microfinance enterprises, and various health programmes, in reaching out to mothers, children, and slum communities. All by applying a specifically gendered approach to their work.

BRAC implements a comprehensive development approach, with a number of programmes for economic and social development of the people. BRAC core programmes include four main ones: BRAC Economic Development Programme, BRAC Social Development, Human Rights and Legal Education Services Programme, BRAC Education Programme and BRAC Health Programme.

In the last 34 years, BRAC have achieved an enormous amount in terms of development. Their programmes contribute a significant amount towards achieving the target millennium development goals, and they have even used their own post-war / disaster experiences to extend their work into Afghanistan from 1992, and more recently with the Tsunami relief programs. An impressive 80% of costs are also covered by their own initiatives

BRAC-UK: bringing third world development success to UK

BRAC-UK is a new extension of their development work, while the NGO are hoping to soon expand into Africa; they are also to pilot a number of proposed projects in British communities, replicating the model of social change in terms of reaching, empowering, and educating women of underprivileged communities.

This innovative form of NGO work brings in third world development successes to the ‘developed world’ as poverty alleviation work is also much needed in the UK. Programmes are to initially begin in East and North-West London. They will be drawing on the experiences of Bangladeshi women of Tower Hamlets to work with women from the Somali community.

BRAC-UK will also engage in advocacy work and provide a southern voice to policy dialogue. Currently in its exciting new stages, BRAC-UK is a small team filled with vision and equipped with years of experience, who are looking to work at grassroots level here within the UK.

If you may be able to help further the cause of BRAC-UK they are currently looking for support in a number of areas. If you feel you would like to contribute in any way, or to learn more, please contact:

BRAC website for further information:

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The Woman Who Left the Village: The Inspirations Exhibtion
27 September 2006

Monsoon Press has combined writers and artists to come together to inspire each other under its Inspirations Project so that pictures and words can be inspired and created from each other. The main aspect of the project has been to work with women and their feelings towards the family. However during the course of various grassroots workshops the discussion around family also interlinked with birth, self-awareness, marriage, children and the emotions and politics of the “FAMILY” This particular work with a poet, artist and women of various backgrounds has been titled “THE WOMAN WHO LEFT THE VILLAGE”

One such example are the workshops Monsoon completed with Doorstep Homeless Families Project with women to celebrate Family week in creating pictures with an artist and writer of an event in their family life that had left a mark in their lives. The writings include poetry and have been linked with up and coming artist Aleya Khan’s paintings and the emerging poet and writer Dina Begum.

“The Woman Who left the villages” also explores how women from South East Asia leave their families to marry and come and live in the Britain. Another element of the art, work and writing has been to show how women have been the breadwinners of families in the developing world through the art of embroidery and crafts. The women portrayed in the paintings are similar to brides, which again linked to the South Asian culture of the bride viewed as part of the cycle of the family.

Through the work with women both at the homeless project and Monsoon’s writers group the view emerged that the family was the core unit that held society together. However the family was not just made up of the immediate family of parents and children but of the extended family, which also included friends and neighbours. Even the immediate family was not made up of a father and mother but of various structures such as the older sibling looking after a whole family. Many Bangladeshi women felt that the west had only just discovered that family was not made up of the nuclear family and that the primary care givers could begin from the grandparents, aunts, uncles and to the nursing maid. It was agreed that family was global and it was this that brought the world together.

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The raw picturesque beauty of Bangladesh
Ishrat-Jahan Chowdhury
10 September 2006

So I returned to Bangladesh in the summer to find it as colourful as ever, and during the month that passed, I managed to see a few more of the sights I missed on the last trip. There really is so much culture and history; it’s just a shame that although tourism is clearly on the government’s agenda, the full potential for investment and development of such amazing sites has yet to be fully explored.

Visually, the country is very similar to Sri Lanka, I found myself comparing the lakes, hills, general scenic beauty as I did over there.

Passing through the streets in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh; there are so many reminders of the independence struggle, not just the official memorials but stunning pictures, murals, statues, and sculptures splattered everywhere. Though the ideologies behind the birth of this nation seem (to some extent) be fading with its city people, at least its alive in an artistic sense and on a street-level at that.

I have always enjoyed travelling between the two largest cities in Bangladesh. The breathtakingly beautiful route from Dhaka to Chittagong is around a five-hour drive down this one straight road. At parts there are huge trees that reach out from the sides and meet over you and every so often, there are small paths that lead off into separate villages, you see kids running back and forth bathing in lakes, laughing as they play. Once you leave Dhaka, on either side there are fields of jute and dhan (paddy fields) that stretch out as far as you can see with different shades of green so rich and vibrant, the whole path is just so unbelievably soul-settling.

Rangamati is also beautiful, it is part of the Chittagon Hill tracks area (CHT) where a number of tribal (minority) groups have managed to preserve their ways of living. The views are stunning and the entire area just seemed so untouched and far away.

Breathtaking views of Rangamati

I also managed to return to the coastal area of Pathenga, that I fell in love with last time I went, it is actually just a port area where the locals might fish, and ships come in or parts are broken, but there is a long area where these huge blocks have been placed for the tide, and behind these there are small markets and food stalls. Around sunset, from these stalls you hear the harmonious sounds of traditional Bengali folk music in the distance, in with that of the sea and groups of people laughing and enjoying themselves. It was here I also managed to look up at the sky to see the sun going down, and then turn around to see the moon, glowing in another area of the sky at the same time! Absolutely amazing!

On another day, we took a boat out across the Jamuna (Bhramaputra) river which also reaches parts of India, China and Tibet. The Jamuna bridge goes on for miles out from the district of Sirajganj to that of Tangail and can also boast some great views.

Jamuna Bridge over Bramaputra River

I really do find Bangladesh as one of the most prettiest countries I have ever visited, and for anyone considering a trip, though the temperatures can be madness, especially during the summer, and the roads utter chaos, the hectic pace of the cities is easily balanced out by the friendly nature of the people, the many fascinating tales of how this culture has developed and fought for its recognition, not to mention the raw picturesque beauty. An adventure most truly awaits you!

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Shahin Badar - Tours Lebanon and Germany
06 August 2006

After successfully working with The prodigy on their three number one selling albums, including the album ‘Alw