Caitlin Burnett

Caitlin Burnett (Blind Education and Rehabilitation Development Organization – BERDO): Caitlin is a native of Williamsburg, Massachusetts. She received her BA in psychology and politics from Ithaca university in 2005. At the time of her fellowship, Caitlin was studying for a Master’s degree in ethics, peace and global affairs at the School of International Service at American University.

Landslides and complacency

15 Jun

While I was fretting over wet feet, much more serious consequences resulted from the heavy rains only a few days ago.

As I later learned, the flooding was not quite in step with the normal rhythm of the monsoon season in Bangladesh. While Dhaka, the capital city, only experienced flooded roadways and a brief shut down in the workday due to the abnormally heavy monsoon rains, Chittagong, Bangladesh’s commercial capital, suffered a much heavier toll.

According to a report today*, over 120 people have been found dead, buried by the mudslides that were some 6 to 8 feet deep in several areas. Workers, for lack of excavation equipment, are making slow progress and the death toll is expected to rise in the coming days as more casualties are unearthed. One relief worker reportedly stated, “never before in my life I confronted such a calamity.”**

After only a few weeks, I have found that I have quickly acclimated to life in Dhaka. The things that were cast in a harsh light when I first arrived have all too quickly become part of my normal days; the pollution and poverty, the garbage piles and children hunting for recyclable materials, and the mangy stray dogs have become a seemingly inevitable part of my daily commute.

While I haven’t become complacent or stopped working towards a more just end, this news has hit close enough to home to make me realize that I need to look more closely at the impermanence around me. As of yet, I have yet to meet with beneficiaries of BERDO’s work. To be honest, I look forward with a sense of both hope and apprehension to hearing their stories that will thrust me out of my current state.

Referenced articles:

* United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), June 14, 2007, “UN supports Bangladesh landslide response.”

**Reuters, June 12, 2007, “Landslides, floods kill dozens in Bangladesh.”

Posted By Caitlin Burnett

Posted Jun 15th, 2007


  • Joanne Gallos

    June 19, 2007



    Wow. You have had quite an introduction to life in Bangladesh. The floods, with such drastic impact on your area is difficult. Hopefully you will soon meet with people who have benefited from BERDO’s work and will support your personal goals in this mission. Have you set your goals yet? I would be very interested in hearing about them.


  • caitlin

    June 19, 2007


    It has certainly been an interesting introduction to the country and the work that BERDO does! My goals are to help clarify BERDO’s message and help them get that message out. Already, a partner page has been developed and posted on AP’s site and before my time in Bangladesh is over we should have a BERDO website up and running. The web has the potential to greatly increase their exposure on a whole bunch of levels.

    To be honest, I can hardly wait to get out into the field! I’m looking forward to relaying the stories of BERDO’s rural beneficiaries, hopefully with some photos or other media as well. The other day I had the chance to meet with several people who have benefited from BERDO’s work – it was very interesting, but I hope to have a blog up about it shortly with much more information!

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