Yes, we’ve travelled through half of Bangladesh in the last 40 days and directly spoke to nearly 20 thousand people.
Starting from the north of Bangladesh on 27th October, till now we’ve done 32 districts out of 64— without any major upset. Now we’re travelling along the coast.
Almost every day we had documented interviews of common people, mostly farmers and teachers, to know more about the change as well as the evening film show and discussion.
Usually the evening session takes about hour and half. But in a number of incidents it crossed even 2 hours. People want to know. Especially, the ones who are affected by the change but could not connect their suffering to any cause.
People across the country have a built in anger about climate change. “America is responsible and they have to pay for this”, is the first reaction, in most cases without having a clue what climate change is and how will it change lives. But, almost everybody we spoke to was already aware of the change— longer and hotter summers, erratic rainfall, delayed winters.
This anger without knowing anything, isn’t it a mindset? How did they perceive this? Who did set this perception in their mind?
Because of this, people react in a violent way or comment irresponsibly when you start a discussion about it. Then again, these people do speak and think more responsibly when they get to understand a bit more about the fact.
People do want to know more about the fact; people do want to take responsibility instead of just blaming each other. They want a clue to think and discover more. And surely they feel good and inspired to be able to connect things with their everyday life.
Everywhere, people spoke about the need of this kind of campaign to go rural where the people has the right to have a better understanding on the issue, the very issue that is changing their livelihoods.
And also people do feel the importance of engaging the youth. Number of teachers from schools and colleges came to us requesting to take the show to their institutions.
The reaction from the youth was significantly different in different areas. Some where the presence of youth was phenomenal as well as their involvement in the show and the talk. But in some places the youth was ignorant and distracting.
The people who are firsthand sufferer, so far they are the best audience and more interested on knowing the fact, finding a solution to see some ray of hope. On the other hand, who are not directly affected are more into blame gaming. Probably it’s a way to avoid their responsibility to some extent. But yes, people have started questioning the credibility of NGOs and development organizations publicly.
People’s feedback about the show was very inspiring for us as it was well-lauded by the audience. Then again, we found it hard to connect the urban lower-income group with the issue. For example- our Bagerhat audience.
3000 Miles to go has, by far, devised the simplest method to the reach common people on this issue. But, still there’s need of a more simplified way.
Our ‘halfway journey’ was marked by a very vibrant show in the coastal district of Barguna. The interaction here was great and people have started to show an attitude towards acting responsibly.
Comparing to the previous show today was great. The venue was perfect; the Shahid Minar of the town and the crowd was also great. A good number of questions, comments and a bit blaming the first world.
Tanjil was seen attending queries even after the show like the previous districts. Here one interesting things was people’s attitude to innovating technology to fight the change.
Our first setback over here. But in otherhand it was an important experience that pulled us down to another level of reality. Change of venue led us to learn an important lesson today. The campaign venue had to be shifted to a sort of place which every district almost has; an adjacent open arena beside the town’s extinct rail-tracks! Well, it is indeed one of the happening places of the town as we came to know just the previous day a famous singer performed there before a bustling crowd.
But, the number of crowd was not impressive at our event; as we expected. Moreover, it’s quite common in our country to find slums of low-income group people beside rail-tracks, thus the crowd mix of today was different.
3000 Miles to go has, by far, devised the simplest method to the reach common people on this issue. But, still some level of knowledge is essential to understand the issue. And there’s no doubt that a more simplified way is much needed. A lesson indeed!
The audience here at the city’s Shahid Hadis Park was very responsive, not only that it felt they have realized how grave the matter is.
After travelling more than 25 districts, we felt that the people of rather large districts have some level of exposure to understand what climate change is and how it is changing our lives and livelihood.
Maybe, it is because the urban population is getting more globalised at this era of information technology. And they are quite aware of what’s happening around the globe.
Issues like international politics, foreign policy of the first world was tossed by the audience, although that’s not what we are here to talk about, but still it’s nice to see that people are getting more and more conscious.
After travelling more than 1000 miles in last 34 dyas we have reached the coast. Starting from the north most district of Bangladesh, Panchagarh, today was our 27th show in Shatkhira. More than 1500 people including 30-40 teachers, number of journalists from the local press club, cultural and political activists and representative from different development organizations.
After a great show in Meherpur , in last 12 days we have had our show in Chuadanga, Jhinaidah, Magura, Rajbari, Faridpur, Gopalganj, Norail and Jessore.
In Gopalganj we’ve learnt something very important. We know that one of the impact of climate change is salinity intrusion in the coastal area. So far our knowledge was- its happening in the lower part of the coastal districts like Shatkhira and Khulna. If you look at the map Gopalganj is not quite coastal area. But People from Gopalganj has clearly testifies that the salinity has already intrude in the area. In the morning we’ve got this information from 2/3 farmers and a teacher we interviewed as testimony. In the Evening, during the show I’ve asked the huge crowd about it and everyone agreed. Latter I’ve called a friend who works in the climate sector and he was clearly surprised hearing the news. So, probably things are happening faster than we thought.
Norail was special with some very enthusiastic youth who was very keen to know more about the fact and how they can act. And Jessore was lively with more than 1500 audience. From this huge audience a number of people from joined the climate conversation and spoke on different issues and aspects of climate change.
In the show, our third film and as well as the 3rd part of the talk is about the rise of sea level. Why and how the sea level rising (the 2nd film is about the glacier melting in the Himalaya region), How that is/will affect the coastal people’s life and livelihood and how difficult is to live in a situation. Here in Shatkhira I was very uncomfortable to do this part. How can I better explain them the sufferings that they are already suffering. But finally I’ve found that they are listening carefully and latter some people came to me and said that now they can connect things with their suffering.
Today in the end a team of youth eagerly showed their interest to do something. They were so keen to have some guideline, some idea.
Here is Shatkhira and also in Jessore people spoke about the social issues as well. The people who are coming to the cities have less and less work. Number of working children is increasing and also women are getting in to uncomfortable livelihood to earn basic needs.
As well as the other places the people has emphasized on the need of taking this kind of campaign to the rural areas. Till today number of people came to us and said- train us, we will take it to the people voluntarily.
It's amazing!!! when you have pin drop silence in a open ground with more than 2000 audience, standing for 2 hours. It gives an absolute unknown energy to the team to carry on. Today we had our show in Meherpur, one of the smallest districts of Bangladesh, on the east border.
This evening we had approximately 2500 audience including more than 200 students of deferent age, school and college. Also a number of cultural activists, political figures and as usual a good mumber of teachers. After the show some students came with some flower to greet us. I cloud see anxiousness and hope together in their eyes. One student took a DVD and I'm sure he will be showing it to other students like the boy from Rangpur.
At the day time one of our team members saw a farmer selling unripe paddy on the street. On the show I ask the audience if they know why the farmer is selling that paddy. We got to know that due to lake of water the crops are not growing properly for last few years.
As we have experienced before, the people in the remote districts are more asking and talking towards better understanding and towards solutions, where the big city crowd are more into the politics and international issues. Here people spoke about acting responsibly.