LCET's rert on Lotus Children’s Home

                                                       (2015 and 2016)

The first LCET’s education project started in early 2014 in the tribal regions of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), Bangladesh.  The project is named as Lotus Shishu Shadan (Lotus Children’s Home in English). This is a long-term project intended to change the poor tribal people’s life in CHT with free, holistic and appropriate education. The Lotus Children’s Home is run by a properly established committee and was registered with the social welfare department in 2015. Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is an integral part of Bangladesh but the people in these lands are not descended from traditional South Asian ethnic groups. They are rather related to Southeast Asian or Himalayan ethnic groups. There are 13 ethnic minorities in CHT (Chittagong Hill Tracts) all distinctively diverse in terms of cultures, social norms, language and histories.  Their living standards are much lower than that of the rest of the Bangladeshi population. The vast majority of these tribal peoples do not know how to read and write Bengali, the official language of Bangladesh. They need our help to improve their education.  Our current project area is Kukimara Wagga Union in Kaptai Upazila, Rangamati Hill District. The project will be extended in the future to different areas of CHT and across the borderlands.

Reason for the Current Project Area:
Kukimara is a large village of more than 300 families and over 1500 people live there. The houses are packed next to each other under the foot of Wagga Hill. Two streams coming from the two adjacent hills meet at the foot of the village. A public road passes by the other side of the village.  The people of Kukimara are ethnically Marma, one of the thirteen tribal ethnic minorities in Chittagong Hill Tracts. There are two small villages further up the hill more than one mile away from Kukimara; one with 35 families and the other with 25 families.  They are ethnically from a different tribe called Tonjongya. There is no school in these three villages. There is only one graduate student who passed his BA in 2016 (last year). These parents are not educated, as their fore-parents were not aware of the importance of academic knowledge when they were young. These parents are now fully conscious of the modern world and the importance of academic knowledge and therefore invited us to build a school in their village. They are extremely poor; many of them are day- labourers and have no land to farm or property of their own except a small house.  The majority of them have no money to send their children to a boarding school. An enthusiastic villager, who wanted to see his area grow in prosperity, donated all his lands (about 6 acres) for education and welfare purposes. He has no family of his own and therefore made this sacrifice for the sake of his villagers and nearby villages.

How we launched our first Project:
  As the photos in this report show, we started our mission on this donated land in early 2014.  The majority of villagers from these three villages participated in building the Lotus Children’s Home, a residential school. We have set up two facilities; one is the accommodation (Lotus Children’s Home) for destitute children from outside Kukimara and the other is a school for both local village children and destitute children who stay at the Lotus Children Home. The houses are, however, not durable as they are built by the combination of bamboos and tin. Villagers can only contribute what they have in their villages such as bamboo, tin or wood. They cannot afford cement, concrete, bricks or modern building materials. They have voluntarily used their labour and expertise in building the houses. Many are involved in cutting into the hill while others level the land and more are involved in building the houses. These houses are for the benefit of the villagers and destitute children who sought our help.  We have set up governing rules for the residents, (see separate policy).  In the first year we managed to offer 15 residential places with students coming from both inside and outside Kukimara areas. This number increased to 20 students in 2015 and 30 students in 2016.

The facilities were limited, barely managing to cope with everyday needs and adverse weather conditions. Children registered with bare hands, and many came with just the clothes they were wearing as their parents had no money to buy more. Other children had only one parent or no parents at all. Our priority was given to orphans and single parents children as long as they were not looked after by their wealthy relatives or by other organisations.   LCET provided them with food, accommodation, educational equipment, clothes, blankets, plates, glasses, spoons, soap, medicine and sanitation for theirs well-being.  On the top of this, LCET trained them in hygiene and healthy living and gave them an appropriate amount of leisure time for traditional games, exercise, arts and interaction and aimed to foster a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.

Income and Expenditure:
Due to lack of accommodation, we did not accept girls for the first three years. We have now accepted a further15 girl’s and 12 boy’s residents in 2017 plus one new cook and one new teacher. Previously, there were two teachers and one cook but now we have three teachers and two cooks. This increases our budget. Our budget in 2016 was about 30000 – 35000 (thirty to thirty five thousand) taka per month, which is equivalent between 375 and 430 to US dollars depending on the items of food or other necessities. (Please read the expenditure report here).

We have already briefly estimated bills for each month in 2017. It will become 60000 to 65000 (sixty to sixty five thousand taka) in a month for 51 students, 3 teachers and 2 cooks. This estimate is calculated for the minimum expenditure i.e. two simple meals a day.  This figure does not include clothes, such as shirts and school uniform, shower soaps, or unexpected expenditure, such as medical health. We will report the accurate expenditure for 2017 in early 2018.

Funded Projects:
Due to our genuine concern for the children’s education, we are privileged to have received support from different well-wishers, perhaps quicker than we have expected. We have managed to build two buildings in the same years with the help of two funders. The first of these was started in January 2016 and was donated by the Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board. Although the building is small, about 22 feet long and 20 feet wide, we are very grateful to the Minister of Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board, U Shwe Shing Marma.  It was very meaningful support when our children are not properly protected from the winter and monsoons. All our 30 children were accommodated in this newly built building by the end of March 2016. However, the number of children who could receive help from our project is not limited to 30. We continue to search for funders to increase our capacity.

The Firefly Mission donated our next project that started in the same year. We are thankful to Venerable Khemasara Bhante, the founder of Bangalhalia Buddhist Orphanage, who introduced us to the Firefly Mission. Firefly Mission is well known in Singapore and is genuinely helping in different parts of South and Southeast Asia without any targets and without any political or ideological influence. They first visited us on 27 December in 2015 during the Christmas and New Year holiday. They saw us in first-handed experience.  After being briefed on our current project, plans and regular activities, their response was positive to our approach to teaching. They asked us to write a proposal, which they accepted in June and agreed to fund us immediately. Venerable Dr. Nagasena Bhikkhu dealt with the whole project with the help of Venerable Khemasara Bhante and Brother Mong. The building work started in 28 July and was fully completed by the end of December 2016, as you see first two photos above. This building has two storey foundations with three rooms. Each room is 20 feet long and 18 feet wide.  We can add another storey in the future, probably in 2020.  They have also provided furniture for 30 children. All the boys have now moved to this building and the previous building is dedicated for girls. So we now have two buildings, one for girls and the other for boys, funded by Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board and by Firefly Mission respectively. We are very much thankful to both CHT Development board and Firefly Mission for their contribution.  

Plan for School Building:
The old house, where the Lotus Children used to live in, is now converted to a temporary study room. It can be used for a couple of months, at least leading up to the monsoon season. We have already planned to build another bamboo and tin house in April just before the monsoon. We estimated the cost of this house to be £1500 for materials with volunteer builders. This amount could change slightly depending on the changes in the market rate. A few volunteers who are expert in building bamboo houses have already offered their time free of charge. LCET welcome any donor to fund this temporary building. From our experience, houses like this (with tin and bamboo) lasts only three to five years, mainly because of adverse weather i.e. heavy rain during monsoon.

Our next plan is to build a permanent school building for LOTUS CHILDREN’S HOME to be used for both a primary and junior school in the same building. The area of this building has already been selected two years ago by the side of the road but more work is still needed; firstly to make a wall to protect against the effect of adverse weather during the monsoon without which the ground-soil could be washed away by monsoon rains, and secondly to level a bigger area as this land is uneven and hilly. We hired a mechanical digger at a cost of about $2000 US dollars to make it appropriate for a school area. Venerable Nagasena Bhante donated his own money for this work. Please see the photos below. A permanent school plot is now ready but we do not know when the fully completed school will emerge.  Depending on the conditions and donors, we are hoping to complete it within 2018-2020.

The school will be a two-storey building with ten rooms. The first storey will serve for the primary school; with a room each for classes one to five while the second storey will be for the junior school and classes six to eight. Two extra rooms will be used for offices. Each room will be 16 feet long and 14 feet wide. The total dimensions will be 80 feet long by 70 feet wide. This school will be Lotus Children’s Model School from which both residential boarding students and children from the village will benefit.  As we mentioned above, when we built the boys hostel in 2016, (only three room with each 20 feet long and 24 feet wide with veranda) it cost more than 27 lakhs for a one storey building plus 6 toilets which cost about 6 lakhs in Bangladeshi currency.  Based on this experience we estimate the expenditure for these two storeys’ complete with ten rooms would go up to 40-45 lakhs Bangladeshi currency. However, the actual estimate will be carried out by our engineer.  As we have noted above, long term and secure accommodation is ready for children who are now protected from adverse weather during the cold winter and the monsoon rainy season.  It was completely different when we first started four years ago.  Then it was only two bamboos houses, one for accommodation and one for the kitchen.  There was only one toilet for 15 children but now we have a one-storey building and three toilets for the girls and a one-storey building with six toilets for the boys.

Academic Achievement:
LCET’s development is not limited to the construction of the complex; most importantly the development should be measured by academic achievement and the children’s ability to understand their environment and their relationship with the wider world. On the top of the academic subjects that are usual in general school, LCH children are taught how to improve their critical skills, self- understanding on the interdependency and interconnectedness of the world and how they depend on others and how they in turn contribute to the larger development of world. In other words, how what they have achieved can be used for the sake of others: how they need to depend on others and how others will depend on them one day. Please see the success rate in the exams. While understanding the meaning of interconnection and development, we emphasise how they should behave and contribute for the society in terms of effective participation in the development process. We teach children to improve their kindness, respect, integration and compassion. Children should be ready to contribute to their world not only in terms of kindness to other human beings but importantly in terms of kindness in sustaining the environment and wild life.  

In our involvement in Kukimara, we have managed to encourage the villagers to send their children to our school. The number of children, who received our tuition, has been increased to more than 60%.  Previously many children were neglected by their parents but now because of our efforts parents are more enthusiastic and are willing to send their children to school.  As you see from the photos below, we have held regular meetings with the villagers. We have provided them with a basic understanding of education, not only in terms of academic education but also in terms of general understanding of the interconnected life with the natural environment, the forest and animals and how they should look after their environment for the sake of future generations. 

Report/activities of the Lotus Children Home 2020 

LCH Residential High School 

Dr Marma Lwin donated £5000 to build Lotus Children’s Home Residential High School. Bhante Nagasena left for the field with this money in the first week of November 2019. The school building work started immediately upon his arrival at the Lotus Children Home and fully completed on the 10th of January 2020. The school was then launched on 18th January 2020 in which the local leaders, teachers, students, and their parents in attendance
However, Dr Marmar Lwin’s donation was not enough to complete the whole building project.  The total cost of the building project was about 970,000.00 BDT (Bangladeshi currency), but when we exchanged Dr Lwin’s donation into BDT, it was only 556,500 BDT. We estimated £7000.00 in our last meeting, a few weeks before Bhante Nagasena went to the fieldwork. So, the Lotus Children’s Education Trust decided to add another £2000.00 to Dr Lwin’s donation to make it up to £7000.00. Even then the total amount of Dr Lwin and LCET donations to the project was only 778,600 BDT. The remaining money (970000-778600) 191,400 BDT (about £2000) was mainly collected from our well-wishers from USA, UK, Japan and Australia including some local well-wishers.

As the winter turned into the summer, the school became extremely hot and everyone (teachers, students, and staff) felt it to be unbearable. The school’s roof is made of tin and without insulation. So, Bhante Nagasena advertised on his Facebook about the condition of the roofs and school. Luckily, one of our regular donors, who donated the Dhamma Hall, Ko Billy and Ma Khine Zar donated 16 fans for the five classrooms. The total cost was about 48,500 BDT, (about £500). The school is now fully equipped in terms of resources, such as benches, tables, chair, fans and white- board etc except for the insulation.

Firefly mission Singapore:

 Just a few days after the completion of the school building, Firefly Mission from Singapore visited us again on 11th January 2020. It was the second visit to Lotus Children’s Home. The first visit was made in 2016 during which they donated the boy’s hostel, then deep tube well-water plant and drainage. They officially opened the tube well -water plant and drainage project, which have already been completed in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Drainage work:
Luckily, this visit too made a few notable contributions to Lotus Children Home. They have extended the existing drainage up to 100 feet along with two more supports: boundary wall for the cooking house aligned with the drainage line. They also sponsored one-year salary for three teachers. The cooking house is connected to the Dhamma Hall, but it is quite unstable, and almost collapsed.  By making a proper wall next to the cooking house, it can stabilize the Dhamma Hall and the drainage as they are aligned with each other.

Firefly Mission donated a wall around the cooking house, which is now completely protecting the Dhamma Hall, cooking house and drainage. The major part of the extension of the drainage has been completed in May except the finishing work. The builder could not manage to complete the outer finishing work due to the monsoon rain, but we hope the remaining work will be done in November. The length of the drainage is now more than 450 feet. We are now safe from the unhygienic wastes, as this is 100 feet away from the cooking house. However, in the future, the length of the drainage should go up to the main road. Therefore, we need more sponsors or funders to protect from the landslide and to make the whole institute clean and safe.

Teachers’ salaries:

Moreover, Firefly Mission generously sponsored three teachers’ salaries for one year. There are five primary teachers and seven junior- high school teachers currently engaged in teaching at the Lotus Children Home. Each teacher’s salary is initially decided to pay $100, about 8000.00 BDT in this year. This salary is 60% lower than the government salary for a schoolteacher. According to Bangladesh government, a teacher’s salary is 22000.00, about £220 a month and they will get pension at the end of their work. For a non-profit institute like ours it is not easy to run a school for the long term. Our target is to pay 10000.00 BDT, which is less than a half of the Bangladeshi standard.

We do not know whether they will continue their support for the coming year because the agreement was only for one year. The teachers, who received Firefly Mission support, have agreed to share 3000 BDT with the remaining teachers; so virtually, they receive only 5000.00 BDT as all others do. Their sacrifice is an example of what we emphasise for the social service and helpful for the running the school at the time of need. 

The maintenance of the school and all educational activities are largely dependent on how we can support the teachers’ salaries. Because of these 12 teachers (5 primary and 7 high school teachers), our education project is running smoothly now, and we are thinking to increase students’ numbers in the coming years but our seven high school teachers are already struggling to teach over 100 students in this year.  They would find even more difficult to cope with the number when more students are enrolled in the coming years. Therefore, the school management team has decided to increase another two teachers in the coming years. So, we need to fund the teacher’s salaries in the coming years.  The amount of funding will depend on how the management team raise donations from other sources.

 If we cannot pay an appropriate salary, these teachers will not stay with us for the long term. Surly, they need to survive with their daily needs and requisites; so, an appropriate earning is particularly important for them. Now, they are working for us for 5000 BDT a month, which is rather a part of their voluntary service to the project. Even then the total cost for these teachers come up to 60000.00BDT for a month, which is equivalent to almost £600.00. The school management team are also making efforts to get support from the government, but it will take time perhaps another a few years.

Boy’s hostel second storey construction:

We are again thankful to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Development Board. They have extended another grant as they have for almost four years now, but we did not manage to complete the second storey with their grants.  However, the major parts are now completed including roofs, stair and two rooms; the only remaining part is the third room, which is bigger than the other two rooms. We have submitted another application for the existing work to be completed. They have been helpful to Lotus Children Home, which is remarkable!  So, we believe that they will continue their supports in the coming year! If they cannot provide grants in the coming year, LCET should support to finish the job because the accommodation will not be enough for the next year.

High school education:

There are about 120 students currently studying within our high school. 80 students are from the Lotus Children Home and the rest are from nearby villages. These students used to go to another school about 4 miles away from us, but buses are not reliable and run only four times a day. This is not at all convenient for students, in terms of timing to the school and the adverse weather is particularly hazardous during monsoon and summer season.  On the other hand, it is difficult for them to walk every day. That is why the establishment of the Lotus Children’s Home Residential High School is meaningful to every student, not only in terms of being easily accessible by the local students but most importantly in terms of academic teaching, knowledge and life-transformation with our ideology and vision.   

We invited the district education officer to visit on 4th February 2020. He was pleased to see the amount of work we have managed to develop within a few months. The shape of the school, teachers, students, office staff plus all the required resources are well-prepared in his view. He gave two hours insightful lectures to our students on the meaning of education and development of an academic life. He then gave good advice to teachers and other staff particularly relating to guidelines, protocol and procedures that are important in running of an academic institute. He also said that according to the government’s rules, each junior high school must have 150 students while a high school 200 students to run the respective institutes. For this reason, we will receive more students in the coming years. He donated 20000 BDT about £200 to set up a library at the school.

Primary school education:

There are over 80 primary school students in 2020. Most of them are from the local village, and about 25 of them are from the Lotus Children Home. We now have two schools at the Lotus Children Home: the primary and high school, and both are extremely helpful to the local children. Our land’s donor, who donated  it  to establish the Lotus Children Home,  intended to build a primary school for the villagers but his good intention is now rewarded as it has eventually led to open a high school. Our reason is simple, if we have a primary school, we need a high school too; otherwise, where would these students go for their high school education? 

The primary school was built with tin and bamboo in early 2019.  However, the school is still poorly built without proper resources, but we have no choice other than running it even in a poor condition while waiting for a donor for a proper building. The size of the school is quite small to accommodate all students without overlapping each other. It is also very wet and hazardous during the monsoon and the hot season.  So, Lotus Children Home is planning to build a proper and bigger primary school in 2021. This structure will be quite like the current high school, a semi brick building with wood and tin roofs, which could last up to 20 years at least.  This is one of our most urgent lists in our diary as more students are expected to enrol in the coming years.

Food and well-being:

There are 103 residents in 2020 at the Lotus Children Home. They are mostly children, students, novices, teachers, and staff. Free food is provided every day, such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner except those who are novices or monks. The cost for the daily food  depends on the types of food and availability of the vegetables in the market or in the local area. The minimum cost for a day is roughly 2000 BDT, which is about £20 in UK currency. For 30 days x £20 = £600.00. This is only for 103 residents in this year 2020, but if they take eggs every other day, the price goes up to £30 a day. Eggs are provided only twice a week because of the shortage of money but they have quite good local vegetables every day. (This is roughly 20 cents a day for each person’s meal).

Apart from this, we need lots of money for bills, stationaries, medicine, and staff salaries. We do not have enough money to sponsor all required items especially nutritious foods and teachers’ salaries. Accommodation is now slowly improving as we have managed to build two hostels, one for girls and one for boys and local committees are planning to extend the girls’ hostel. The existing girls’ hostel is small, and demands have already been overwhelmed in this year, especially during the beginning of the school year in January. The girls’ hostel has two storeys and both dormitories are now full.  A temporary long extension to the girls’ hostel will be built probably in December to accommodate more girls in the coming year.

According to the local committees, children are divided into three categories: slightly poor, extremely poor, and orphaned children. The extremely poor and orphaned children will receive free accommodation and free meals, and other resources from the committee. However, the slightly poor would receive free accommodation but their parents may donate half fees for the food, which is about 800.00 Taka (£8 for a month) and 200.00 Taka (about £2 for a month) for teachers’ salary. Ten pound a month is affordable to these families. 

We will prioritise the extremely poor and orphans but try to support the slightly poor as well. This will make an equal opportunity to three groups, especially not to leave out the slightly poor students from our support. If we do not offer this opportunity, the slightly poor children will never get a chance to study. Their parents do have enough money to rent a house or room and provide food for them but most of these children are coming from the remote area of Chittagong Hill Tracts where no school is available. 

Those who are extremely poor, their parents may contribute anything as they wish voluntarily such as vegetables, rice, salts, curries or even donation but this is not compulsory at all.  This system was randomly started in this year but according to the local committee, the system will be more effective in the coming years. It is because there are lots of demands from ordinary poor family from the remote hilly regions where no school is accessible in their areas.  They look for a place to educate their children. We know that many such families are able to make some donation for their children, but they cannot afford to pay full expenditures, such as food, renting accommodation and tuition fees if they are to stay in rented accommodation.  For this reason, the three categories should work effectively without any problems.

​                                 Report (in July 2019) from the LCH activities during 2018-19 by Nagasena 

As I reported every year after coming back from the Lotus Children Education Project in Bangladesh, I used to draft a report. This report again drafted on the basis of my activities in the project area between February and May in 2019! There are a few significant activities carried out by me during my stay in Bangladesh. They are drainage project funded by the firefly mission, Singapore and primary school project funded by Lotus Children Home, Bangladesh and Lotus Children Education Trust, UK; a break road funded by the government of Bangladesh; a wall and gate for the girl’s hostel plus training and teaching activities carried out by me.

 Drainage Project: Drainage project started immediately after my arrival at the Lotus Children Home in the last week of January. There are two locations of the drainage works: the first location runs next to the boy’s hostel and the second runs next to the girl’s hostel and through the Dhamma Hall. We called it drainage A and B respectively.  The length of the drainage A is about 160 feet while the drainage B is about 260 feet.  The thickness of the floor A and B is 6 inches while the height of the wall A and B is two and half feet. However, the lower area of drainage B was quite deep, dirty, uneven combinations with loosed soils. So, we have made the floor stronger and stable by placing sands and breaks under the construction of the floor. This is just to make a layer stronger of the floor. On the top of this, the construction of the floors and walls are used by rods (iron bars), cements, sands and concretes.  The whole drainage project was sponsored by the firefly mission and managed by me and supported by two representatives of the firefly mission in Bangladesh.

There are about 80,000 BDT left after the completion of the project. This money is used to build a staircase for the second floor of the boy’s hostel. Even though this is not enough to build the whole staircase, we have managed to put the foundation. This boy’s hostel was donated by the firefly mission in 2016. We are now planning to build the second floor of this hostel in coming year. It is because the demands for a place have been increased every year, especially by those students who are from very remote areas of CHT, where no school is available in their regions.  Even though the priority is given to the orphanage students, we also welcome destitute, underprivileged children from the very remote area of the CHT region. A report of the drainage project has been sent out to the firefly mission. At the same time, we have also indicated to build a second floor of the boy’s hostel in the same report. We do not know whether the construction of the second floor will be funded by the firefly mission.

Primary and Junior School: Lotus residential primary school has been launched in January 2019 following the beginning of school calendar in Bangladesh. Previously, our primary students have to walk 2 KM on hazardous the road during the monsoon rain and extreme heat during the summer. The junior and high school students use the local transports to attend their classes. It is not easy for us to pay the required transport fees every day. This led us to establish our own residential school, We all agree that this will help better impact in terms of our aims and purposes of running LCH. When I arrived at the LCH, the primary school was already running with four teachers. These teachers are not funded by the local government but the local government has authorized to run this school from class 1 to 4 in 2019. Without their recognition and authorization, it will be unacceptable to other schools in the region. Therefore, our certificate will be invalid. 

 As for the teacher’s wages, we can only afford to pay 5000 Taka which is about £50 a month. Generally, the government’s salary for a primary school’s teacher is about 25000 Taka- an equivalence of £280 roughly.  So, at the moment, they are rather working as volunteers for the LCH’s Primary School Project. This was a response to the urgent need of our children’s education plus the children from the village around us. We are planning to register it with the ministry of education either in 2019 or in 2020s but within this or next years; we may have to prove our ability of running the school.   

The school was built by the villagers, as they did the residence of Lotus Children Home in 2014. Villagers brought bamboos, tins, woods etc., to build the school. This may last for two years but all furniture such as benches, chairs, white board etc. funded by us. If we get registration done with the ministry of education, the government will fund us for a building and teachers to run this primary school.  

 While the process of the primary school is underway, we are planning to open a junior school in 2020. This means that the primary students who pass class 5 can continue their study up to class 8. In other words, we will provide education from year one to year 8 in 2020s within our complex. Subsequently, it may go up to year 10 in near future. Primary school in Bangladesh academic system is limited to year 5. Generally all primary educations (except the private run school) are funded by the government but junior or high schools are not fully funded by the government.  However, the government may help up to 50% of teachers’ salary if we are able to register it with the ministry of education. However, we must have qualified teachers, higher than the primary school in terms of training, plus the appropriateness of classroom, the board of administration, staffs and their primary salaries etc. There are also substantial legal procedures used in the process of registration but we hope to overcome them gradually.    

According to Bangladesh education rule, the minimum teachers for a junior school require to have 6 qualified teachers.  We have already consulted with 8 qualified teachers, who wanted to involve in the teaching. Our initial agreement with these teachers is to pay BDT 5000 thousands monthly, roughly $60 for the first year but then later their salary will be  BDT 10000.00 roughly $130. We know our efforts are limited as none of us is rich in terms of financial circumstances but our heart is rich in terms of compassion and wisdom.  With this big heart, our only choice is go ahead with our objectives. This will benefit not only by the Lotus resident students but also by the village students within the Lotus Education Project area. Hope someone will bless us in this good cause! 

 Road works by the government: we have built an access road to LCH funded by the government. This helps us walk to the LCH without muddy soils or water during monsoon season and any car now can go inside the LCH resident’s area directly. The road is laid out by two layers’ breaks; hopefully it will last for ten years at least or more depending on the monsoon and other adverse weather conditions. They have also made two waterways/ water house to release the water from the stiff hill during the monsoon. This is located the other side of what two drainage were made.  I have guided them from the beginning, as they were waiting my arrival to carry out the job. So, after my arrival, a number of development activities were being carried out and all were successful as just stated above. A few of others are the fence and gate for the girl’s hostel, a water house by the main school plot.

Anniversary of LCH: As we did last year, there was an annual ceremony observed by the LCH committees, villagers and residents. The ceremony was held by the second week of March 2019. This was mainly to train our children by ordaining monastic life. 20 girls were observed 9 precepts with white cloths for a week while 21 boys were ordained novice hood observing 10 precepts. I have trained them with meditation, philosophy and culture awareness of Buddhist life such as love, compassion etc.  All are now gone back to normal student's life except 6 novices who wanted to study Pali. Previously, I have sent five novices to Myanmar in 2017 but these newly ordained novices may go to Sri Lanka in coming years. They are now training with the monastic education which includes Pali, English, Bengali and basic Buddhist philosophy in English. This is our intention that one day these novices will provide services to everyone, regardless of their origins, culture or religion, and continue the journey of LCET/LCH with descent and kind-hearted mind. Our emphasis through the course of training and everyday practice is that our children should be a role-model to everyone in terms of fairness, equality, behavior, rationality and attitude; and middle way is their weapon in solution their problem. They must be adoptable, workable, kind, respected, honest, humble to everyone including people other than their own cultures or religions. 

Funder needed: All these activities just noted above are required money, without which nothing can be done!  Please help us/ support us. Every bit of support is used for the promotion of our objectives only. We are purely working as volunteers without any interest or profit for our livelihood. Each item spent for running the LCH is recorded in the office’s files and this will be used for the accounting purposes. I met our accountant in Bangladesh in April but he was very busy to prepare our account before June. He promised me to do it in July in this year. Hope we will get an audited analysis from the accountant in August in 2019.

​                    Fieldwork report and activities by Bhante Nagasena in 2024

his is just to update about my trip to the fieldwork in Bangladesh. I arrived at the Lotus Children Home (LCH) on 17th January 2024. I started working immediately on the northern side of the drainage, and then two weeks later, on the construction of International Pali College and Library subsequently. 

The construction of the Pali College and Library has been planned since 2020. We discussed the design and map of the building last year. In fact, we talked about this building every meeting we held since 2020. Unfortunately, due to the shortage of funds, we did not go ahead with the plan. The postponement is also partly related with the global covid 2019 pandemic.

Fortunately, our main patron, Dr Kyaw Myint Oo, eagerly interested to go ahead with the project as quickly as possible. He donated £10000.00 in 2022 but the donated amount is still far behind the actual amount required to put the foundation of the building because the building is designed for 4 storeys, which requires a solid and strong foundation. Dr K.Oo again donated another £6000 over different occasions of their family event in 2023. Total amount from Dr K. Oo £16000.00 plus £5000.00 from our trust added to the foundation of the construction.


Drainage work in the northern side of the Lotus Children Home 2024:

On my arrival at the Lotus Children Home, a series of urgent works are listed, two of which are even more urgent than the construction of Pali College and Library. The first is the drainage system in the northern side of the LCH and the second is the water recycling system of the LCH. They both are urgently required to pay attention. Without drainage in the northern side of the hill, the newly built school may not survive during the monsoon. This is a half – wall school temporarily built with tins and woods in December 2023, which requires protection from monsoon rain.

 Once again, Firefly Mission is our main source of sponsorship for this drainage project. They also sponsored all previous drainage works. The current drainage is again eagerly sponsored by the Firefly Mission. They donated 556,800 BDT for the project while Lotus Children's Education Trust topped up about 10% of the cost. This includes a bridge on the access road. This drainage is created under the bridge. The bridge is strong enough for cars or heavy loaded trucks. All net-concreting works have been completed except the last 30th feet. We kept this 30th feet undone because we will channel this drainage water to the pond, which we recently created. This pond water will be recycled for use during the summer season. By the time of writing this report, 90% of drainage works are completed. 10% of works are easy as they are only to do with plastering and finishing of the drain before the monsoon.


When I arrived at LCH, water in the canal became shallow and gradually started to get dried. There were two ring-wells and one deep tubewell previously installed but they were not enough to supply over 250 residents every day. The underground water gradually dries from October every year, virtually as soon as the monsoon rain stops. As a result, water in the deep tube well and ring-wells slows down in January and even slower in February. So, we can only extract water for about 150 people from March. You can imagine what would happen in April and May. The underground water gets dried as we pump out for use.

To meet this additional crisis, we channelled natural water from a nearby mountain, two and half miles away from us. Ko Billy and Ma Khine Zar donated this water plant in 2020 and we renovated the pipelines and storing tanks with the support of Firefly Mission in 2023, but this water again dried up in March and April due to lack of trees and intense summer heat.  We even planted trees, bamboo and other plants around the corridors of the streams. This did not work as we had expected because the businessman who purchased the whole mountain, chopped all trees for sale. We are planning to replant again this year. 

Recycling water:

As a result of all these efforts, we decided to recycle the used water. We studied how the ‘water recycled system’ worked and its cost and benefit through websites and YouTube channels.  I discussed this with our main sponsor, Dr Kyaw Myint Oo before I left for the fieldwork. I am very encouraged by him. He initially offered £3000 to create an underground water tank, like a swimming pool. There are ordinary ponds available in the area, but these ponds get dried during the summer months. These ponds are built without net-construction and therefore water is absorbed by earth during the hot season.  Our water storing tank requires it to be built properly with ne- construction. Net -construction means to build with iron-rod, cements, sands and concrete. It is costly because the pond is designed to hold over 50 thousand gallons of water. The size of this pond will be 30 square feet wide and 12-15 feet deep.  This must be stable and strong to hold the weight of the loaded water. This must be protected from leaking into ground as well.

Our builder has estimated that it may cost about £5000 to make it with net-construction properly. This includes a filtering system of the water, channelling this water from the pond to the shower storing tanks and back to the pond through the filtering process. We have excavated 50% of the pond during my visit. The pond is visible now with water, but it will get dried soon as heat is rising every day by the time of writing the report.  (see photos)

All used water will be brought back into the pond by recycling methods. There is a series of filtering systems to purify the water before going back to the ponds. The system is used by concrete, gravels, pedals, sand stones and smooth sands. Finally, channel it to the ground-soil again where grasses and leaves will be planted to purify all toxic materials. As this water will pass through gravels, soils, leaves and plants, the water will become pure before entering the pond through underground pipes. We will examine the system this year and we will build it with net-construction properly in the coming year if this method helps to resolve the problem during the months of water shortage.

Pali College and Library Project:

As stated above, the construction of Pali College and Library Project started in early February 2024, two weeks after my arrival at the site. The costs of the foundation and ground floor pillars were about £23000.00. These expenses were mainly donated by Dr Kyaw Myint Oo (UK). He donated £16000 and a few other donors such as Dr Thein Myint £1000 (UK), Dr Mong Sanu (Bathwai) USA 50,000 BDT, devotees from Australia donated 100,000 BDT. Htay Hlaing (USA) 53500 BDT and Sandra (Australia) 50,000 BDT and the rest are topped up from Lotus Children Education Trust.

This is a four-storey building, so a solid and strong foundation is needed. The size of the net foundation of each pillar is 6 feet square wide and 6 feet high from the base of the pillars to the floor: except four pillars as their size is 7 feet square wide with 6 feet high. Therefore, 10 baggage cements are used for each of these four pillars. The rest out of 25 pillars require 8-9 bags of cement. The thickness and height of each foundational pillar is 22 inches, almost two feet high net-concreting floor.


According to some people, £23,000 is quite cheap comparing the amount of work and types of materials required for the foundation. It would have gone much higher than these expenses. However, our novices, monks and students volunteered the work every day till the completion of the foundational work. Perhaps, volunteer work makes the expenses cheaper. When we started working on the foundation, the project area was wet as the underground water was still running. As we dug and removed the soils for the foundation, land collapsed and dropped into the excavated area. The excavated area messed with soils and muds again. We removed the muds and soils again with our students. It was indeed a labour-intensive job to make the foundation. Luckily, all these difficulties are managed by our students, monks and novices. Because of these hindrances, the foundation work took a little longer than we expected but cheaper than expected.

The remaining works are now to do with roofing and rooms. Our builder estimates the fact that we may require £15000 for each of the roofs and rooms. However, we must not take it for granted without actual completion of the work. Although we managed to erect the foundation, there is much work to do with roofs, room and flooring. Our funds have fallen short of the remaining works. So, I could not complete it before coming back to the UK.  

After discussing the matter with Dr Kyaw Myint Oo, he agreed to donate another £5000 for the roof and remaining works.  Firefly Mission also donated $10000 (SGD) as one-off donations for the project. About $1000 of this donation has been used for the foundation. There are a few more donors recently donated. They are Dr Aung Myint Kyaw £600, Pyone Myint £200, Dr Po £100 and Milind £100, Cheah Chee Mun $1225 (SGD). We still need another £4000 to complete the estimated roof, floor, and rooms.

I have already spoken with the builders to continue with the roofing work. If there are no donors coming forward for the roof, we will top up from the LCET.  We hope we will be able to put the roof before monsoon and continue with the remainder of the work.

Institute Expenditures in Brief:

Running an institute is not easy for anyone without proper financial security. There are many areas where we cannot do it voluntarily. A few of those areas for example are foods, electricity bills, and teacher salaries. Teachers are working with a half salary, two times lower than Bangladesh government salary. They receive a monthly salary of $80 each now. We plan to pay up to $150 when we get funders, but we cannot get a half price for food and electricity bills. Foods for over 250 residents require more than 300,000 BDT for a month, which is roughly £2300. There are 17 teachers for these students and two staff members. Even with a half salary, we still need to pay over 200,000 BDT each month teacher salaries, which is roughly about £15000. Gas, firewood and electricity bills are about 50000 BDT, roughly about £400 each month.

  Institute development will depend on how we manage to raise funds for the institute. The primary objectives of the institute are to serve underprivileged and destitute children with academic wisdom while the secondary objectives are to educate them to become honest, compassionate, rational and responsible human beings. We are aware of how our world is affected by carbon dioxide, the destruction of forests and climate change. These problems are partly connected with ignorant, illiterate and irresponsible behaviour of human beings. We teach our children to feel responsible when dealing with climate change and misuse of natural resources.

There are a series of levels and processes required to fulfil these aims and objectives. Right education is our primary tool to deal with our problem. However, the institute should have a secure funds to recruit students. To recruit students, we need proper accommodation, food, teachers, and well-beings of people involved in the institute. All these requisites are impossible to implement without money. In fact, neither students’ recruitment nor running of a school is imaginable without funds.

Age of students we receive varies depending on classes. We normally receive students from year one to year ten. There are two levels we offer: primary level and secondary level education. The secondary school is the same as the GCSE level in the UK standard. We generally prefer to accept secondary students as they are easier to look after but there are villages where no school is available in their area, not even primary school in the nearby area. It is quite difficult for us to reject students from such villages.

We normally accept 30-50 students each year, but the number has gone beyond in 2024.  We have ended up accepting over 80 students. There are 253 residents in 2024. More than 60 students among them are orphans. Their parents either died or separated. All our teaching staff look after these children with academic education, disciplinary rules, security and food. We must thank the efforts, dedication and hard work of our teaching staff. 

However, we are anxious for the well-being of these students this year 2024. It is partly because we have enrolled students more than our capacity in 2024, while general food prices have gone up again recently, particularly potatoes and beans which are our regular diets at the institute have gone up 40%. One KG potato price was around 30 BDT in February but now 55 Taka BDT.  They focus the price to increase up to 70 BDT during monsoon months. The price will come down after the monsoon, especially when potato farming comes back in November. There are different types of beans children prefer but the price is always high. One KG bean is over 80 BDT.  Our local vegetables are not available during the monsoon season. We depend on beans (Dall) and potatoes for at least five months as we rarely get local vegetables during monsoon season. If potato prices do not come down, it will be quite difficult for us to feed throughout the rainy season.

On top of food prices, there is another area we must be concerned with. Children's health and their wellbeing has proved to have been unstable recently. A few students were sick recently and expected to happen regularly as weather conditions and climate is unpredictable. 

All these are manageable if our funds are secure and strong. We will continue to pursue our ambition and objectives for the benefit of the earth, planet and the future generation with all our energies and efforts.








Activities and Material Development 2014-2018

               The construction of Lotus Children's Home in 2013-2017:  Photos Records of Activities




                          Report and activities of Lotus Children Home 2023 in brief:

Read the report from number 4 below: 
1) People are struggling to survive with their daily needs. Our charity is not exceptional to this, as we have no regular sponsors to feed, educate and accommodate over 250 children. Thanks to those people who donated me for my monastic, educational, social, religious or spiritual services, all of which are completely used for the welfare of these children. My monastic life is the will and legacy of Lotus Children and asset of the institute. Yes, surely, your support will help address the globalised issues facing the modern world. We can work together for the expansion of our teaching ideology and create a better new generation across the world.

2) Cognitive knowledge in the modern classroom lessons is not enough without the development of cognitive empathy of children. Cognitive empathy is, for example, the transformation of children’s minds more toward the practice of honesty, fairness, morality, respect, and integrity. The concept of respect as we defined here is not only with the rights of others, and human values, but also, we define respect for animal values, even with the value of nature. We routinely destroy nature, plants, trees for our survival. We are not aware of how they slowly react by themselves. We have created a variety of lessons to show our children how nature has responded to our actions.

3) We hope our theory should create peace, sustainability, and stability in the world, one day in the future. We believe that it is better to reason, plan and work with a newly developed theory because every school focuses on thinking process and cognitive ability, but not with cognitive heart and compassion, sympathy, honesty, and mindfulness practice. Our lesson plans work with both cognitive knowledge and cognitive empathy and compassion. Your support can grow a better expansion of our theory across the region, even across the world

4) Our representative, Venerable Nagasena Bhikkhu, left for the fieldwork in Bangladesh on 30th November. On his arrival at Lotus Children Home, Chittagong Hill Tracts, he started to work with the funeral arrangment of the monk who donated the land of the Lotus Children Home. The land’s donor, Kaung Jaug Marma, passed away on 28th August 2022. He entered monastic order shortly after the passing away of his wife.  His monastic name was Dhammavamsa. He spent 21 years as an ardent monastic practitioner. He didn’t have any children, the land he owned as layman, donated to Lotus Children Home in 2009. So, this land registered with the name of Lotus Children Home in 2011.

5) The funeral ceremony of Dhammavamsa did not go ahead immediately as local members, supporters and teachers of Lotus Children Home wanted the Venerable Dr Nagasena Bhikkhu to lead the ceremony. The funeral ceremony was held on 26-27 January in line with traditional, cultural, and social norms of the local region. A high honour was given to him, not only because of being a monk but also because of being a donor of Lotus Children Home. The Funeral implementation Committee spent £8000.00 (eight thousand) for foods, woods, lighting, cultural shows, singing, cleaning, and dana for the monks. Coffin displayed two days for public events where over 50000 people attended. Each day is incorporated with a series of agendas such as prayer, chanting, traditional and cultural performances including free food for devotees and guests over 5000. Lotus Children’s Education Trust spent about £2500 for the event. The rest monies were raised locally by the effort of Venerable Dr Nagasena Bhikkhu.

6) After the funeral ceremony, Venerable Nagasena Bhikkhu made a trip for two weeks to India. He joined with Milind at Calcutta airport from which they started pilgrimage- tour to the Buddha’s holy places. Milind is one of our trustees who has been looking for this visit for many years. They flew to Varanasi together where Buddha delivered his first sermon to his former friends. The journey ended at Bodhgaya where Buddha became enlightened.   Megha and Ariya, wife and daughter of Milind also joined us at the end of trip.

7) As he arrived at the Lotus Children Home from pilgrimage, Venerable Nagasena started to build the second storey of the girl hostel. The size of the building is 35 feet wide and 50 feet long. The first floor was completed last year, jointly sponsored by Firefly Mission and Lotus Children Education Trust.  The estimate of this hostel is over £12000. It could have been higher if we built concrete roofs, but we decided to build with tins with angel bars for the roof. The decision was mainly carried out by thinking of the weight of the building. According to our builder, we can build two storeys with concrete roofs, but we did not take the risk because the area of the building is a dumping soil area.  By the time of writing this report, all materials are already purchased except window glasses, painting, ceiling, and staircase. By the end of this month, we will see clear pictures of all expenses. As for now we have already spent about £10000.00 (ten thousand). We need another £2000.00 to complete the whole building, which we need send within this month.

These expenditures are funded by the LOTUS CHILDREN EDUCATION TRUST.  According to our plan, these funds were intended to build Lotus International Pali College and library. However, the Pali college and library building were estimated at over £80000. The foundation alone would cost over £20000.00. Due to the shortage of money, the project did not go ahead this year. Dr Oo who was the original sponsor of this project. Dr Oo agreed to postpone the project this year. This money has been well-used as girl accommodation urgently needed for the newly arrived students.  We still need to spend another £2000 for the girl hostel project to complete the glasses and painting of the hostel.

8) the existing high school is no longer effective to provide seats for the newly arrived students. There are already 216 students at Lotus Children’s Home in 2023, which is more than the reserved space.  The demand exceeded the original plan because we cannot ask the children to leave the premises after their junior school year. They need to complete SSC/GCSC or HSC/AL education before they become adults.  Therefore, we agreed to provide education including accommodation, and food up to SSC (secondary school certificate), which is 16 years old.

9) As the number of students increases, the existing classroom cannot accommodate the current students. Therefore, SSC students are required to take their class in a temporary bungalow, which was built three years ago with tin and bamboo. The condition is inadequate to use it as a teaching room.  We converted this unused open bungalow into a half-wall classroom for SSC students in 2023.  There are 20 pairs of low and high benches required for these classrooms, two pairs of which are donated by Ramona and the rest are funded by Lotus Children’s Education Trust.

10) You can see photos of the classroom displayed below. The condition is extremely poor, but we do not have any other option to replace it due to lack of funds.  We really need a proper and permanent school building for all junior and high school children. The land for this school building has already been outlined and levelled by bulldozer in early January 2023. We are now raising funds for this building. Our initial plan is to build four storey buildings. This may cost over $100000 dollars to complete it with all required materials fully. Once this building is completed, we should be able to run classes properly and this could even serve to run AL or 12 classes.

11) Food prices have gone up 30% recently. We used to buy one KG rice with 40 BDT (Bangladeshi currency) last year (2022), but a KG rice is now over 50 BDT. A better quality of rice is up to 60 BDT this year. The price may go up again later in the year.  A KG of chana dal was 49 BDT last year but the price is now 66-70 BDT.  Vegetables, oils, or other foods’ items are not exempted from soaring prices.  

However, we cannot cut down students’ numbers as the demands for a place have never been higher. People in Chittagong hill tracts are poor and uneducated, but they are now aware of the meaning of education for their survival. Their population has doubled recently, and their lands are no longer enough to supply the need. They saw education, the only option for their future.  Parents are thus looking for a place to educate their children, but they are extremely poor to meet the required money. The primary reason is being the location where they live, proven to be very difficult to build and run a proper school, partly because of the inaccessibility of the location. 

12) Our compassion starts from this question: where will they go for their education? Are they not entitled to become educated? If we do not offer a place for these children, who will do it? The intention of the trust is to serve the needy children with education and knowledge. These mountainous children are appropriate to receive our sympathy. We provide them, not only with education but also with the required requisites such as food and accommodation. With these supports, we aim to address the issue of immorality, dishonesty, corruption, violence, conflict, which are routinely visible in many developing countries. We believe that through a systematic lesson plan, understanding the law of nature, knowledge, and compassion we can transform children’s minds for better cognitive development.  

13) Modern children need modern ways of thinking and planning for the future world. What this means is that we have developed tools, technologies, social media, or digital technologies by which we have connected one another, no matter where we live in this world. This provokes our desires unstoppably and endlessly, but we are not aware of the side-effects of this development. On the other hand, we are still not aware of the growth of the population and how this will impact on the demands of resources when the limited lands remain under immense pressure. That’s what Lotus Children Education trust thinks and works with the new generation of the world.

Everything is connected through business, workforce, electronic devices, social media, foods, wearing or household requisites. A man told in a paper recently, they cannot afford to buy Ilisha fish because the price has gone up to an international standard. The businessman, who exports to foreign countries, gives a better price to the fishermen who catch fishes from the sea. Ordinary local people must pay the international rate if they want to buy it. This is one of many examples of globalization.