Thursday, March 29, 2007

Arnob to visit the BNWLA Hostel

Arnob, the star of the Bangladesh music scene, described by many as the finest musician of his generation, has agreed to visit the hostel with me. We've recently begun to collaborate musically (see the BlueNote blog for info) and are playing a concert tonight for the British High Commissioner. Photos will appear here soon. He is unquestionably a musical genius and it's a privilege to be able to work with him.

As I've got to know him, I've also seen he has a strong social conscience. He immediately offered a percentage of tonight's fee for example to the hostel. So when I suggested coming, he agreed straight away. We'll perform our new set for the kids, and they will in turn put on a song and dance show for us. This will bring huge publicity to the hostel - as his presence will guarantee media attention. Salma Ali (head of BNWLA) is delighted. A couple of TV interviews with any of us will further bolster the cause.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Music News

Meanwhile, over at BlueNote, there have been some interesting developments which will certainly keep us in the limelight and help bring attention to the cause. Click on the link (bottom right on this page) to see the growing list of gigs plus news of an extraordinary collaboration in the making.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Incredible Offers No. 2

My very good friend Aaref - a successful architect here - has offered the use of his ubercool urban pad as a venue for a dinner party in April, where we will play as BlueNote. He will invite 60 contacts and associates, charge them £10 per ticket, pay for all the food himself as a personal donation, and contribute the entire proceeds to our appeal. This is the sort of immense gesture which is coming to characterise this campaign, even in these early days. I wish to record here my personal gratitude to Aaref for this amazing contribution to the appeal.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

First target

Good news - we've reached £1000! Only another £329,000 to go. Or a month's salary for your average football player. We will get there. Target remains £10,000 for this first year- until December 2007. Between the various proceeds from gigs, the photo exhibition mentioned in a previous post, and the talk in the air of big charity music events, it's looking very likely that we'll reach it. Thanks to all who have donated so generously already.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Introducing BlueNote

Ladies and Gentlemen, would you please now put your expensively manicured hands together for BlueNote.

BlueNote: a piano and sax duo playing all of your favourite jazz, blues, swing numbers and ballads. Smooth, edgy and sophisticated, BlueNote are the ideal ensemble to create an atmosphere for cocktail evenings, dinners, corporate events, club nights and private parties.

For photographs, click on the logo
BlueNote In The Mood

BlueNote supports the BNWLA Hostel Appeal ( with proceeds from its performances. We will be working hard over the coming months to build up a reputation, and get booked to play more and more venues here. There is a real dearth of live music in Dhaka and it shouldn't be too difficult to get noticed. Besides, we are GOOD! (Even if I say so myself...)

For more information, news and details of performances, visit our blog at:

Contact BlueNote at

Inspiring Images

Whatever else you have planned for today, please take ten minutes and check out the photographs of life at the current BNWLA Hostel taken recently by the excellent Snigdha Zaman of Ikon Photos here in Dhaka.

Positive, compassionate, movng and inspiring, this is a stunning collection of images. If you want to make a contribution as a result of what you see here, go to

Alternatively, write to me at to discuss how you can help out in other ways.

You can find the images by clicking on the picture below:
BNWLA Hostel by Snigdha Zaman/Ikon Photo

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

An incredible offer

Met our Hostel Appeal photographer, the excellent Snigdha Zaman, at the Ikon Photo Agency for a photo session to launch our new musical venture (more on that later). She brought her friend and boss Ron along, to help with the setting up. While in the car driving to our session location I outlined to him how we came to be involved with Madhabi and BNWLA. On the spot he offered to hold an exhibition in the autumn from Ikon. Each of his associates would contribute up to 2 prints - we'd sell them at a gallery in the heart of upmarket Dhaka and keep ALL the takings. As they'd go for approx Tk 5000 (£40) each we could be talking about well over a thousand pounds from one exhibition. Is that amazing or what? It's the kind of gesture that makes me believe in humanity again.

We downloaded all the shots Snigdha took at the hostel. They are out of this world - simply breathtaking, full of compassion and dignity. I'll be uploading at least 50 of them to my own blog this week and urging you all to look at them.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Introducing the BNWLA Blog

Welcome to the BNWLA Hostel Appeal Blog. In these posts I'll be updating you on what's been achieved, what's in the pipeline, and what ideas might be worth pursuing for fundraising in different parts of the world. Please make this one of your favourites, and please offer comments and contributions of your own.

The good news is that this initial week of the campaign has raised over £800, amongst other succcesses. A member of the Bangladeshi Human Rights Pressure Group Drishtipat produced a wonderful logo, free of charge, now on display here on the blog and on the Appeal website at

In addition to launching the website, I commissioned an excellent local photographer to do a whole series of pictures of the survivors: both portraits and action shots from classrooms and training rooms. I'll be displaying these soon here on the blog. They will also be used in our brochure, which will be used largely to sell our cause to some of the bigger donors, so that we can follow up initial phone calls with professional-looking literature. It was free to produce, and inexpensive to print.

The musical side of fundraising is looking very promising. Entertaining people with sax and piano rather than a begging bowl. Quid pro quo. Watch this space on that one.

So it's been quite a week, and has generated a lot of momentum and offers of support. One idea that stands out already is trying to get Tesco to make a contribution. They have a lot of interest in Bangladesh as they source many of their cheap clothes here. They have grand statements on their own site about corporate responsiblity and child labour. I will soon put together a proposal to send to them. Does anyone have experience of that kind of approach to big retailers?

All for now. Past midnight. Tune in again soon.