DBU Students Share Knowledge and Hope in Bangladesh

(Pictured left to right) Parker Wallace, Chris La, Angel Marrufo, Ryan Solt, Anastasia Widjaja, Jordan Andrews, Hannah Jones, Ally Stryker, Alyssia Sloan, J.D. Noyes, Dr. Ross O'Brien, Kaile Rawls, and Dr. Amie Sarker.
(Pictured left to right) Parker Wallace, Chris La, Angel Marrufo, Ryan Solt, Anastasia Widjaja, Jordan Andrews, Hannah Jones, Ally Stryker, Alyssia Sloan, J.D. Noyes, Dr. Ross O'Brien, Kaile Rawls, and Dr. Amie Sarker.

Dallas, TX - In Bangladesh, more than 40 percent of the population is underemployed, with many people working only a few hours a week at low wages. With so many living in hard conditions, there is a great need for help. Thirteen students from Dallas Baptist University, accompanied by three faculty members, had the opportunity to travel to this impoverished country over winter break and to provide aid through principles they learned in the classroom.

The DBU team partnered with Humanitarian Aid for Rural Development (HARD), a non-governmental organization established by alumni, Drs. Abraham and Amie Sarker. The trip combined a biology class taught by Dr. Deanna Noyes and a business course taught by Dr. Ross O'Brien. Each class contained a service-learning component, which allowed students to engage in ministry serving as a means of applying classroom knowledge in the real world.

"God moved mightily and was glorified through the team in many different ways," said Dr. Amie Sarker, assistant professor of education and program administrator for the M.Ed. in Reading and ESL Program and ESL Certification Program. "The biology and business students and faculty provided wonderful servant leadership that helped to advance the work in Bangladesh in practical, strategic ways."

On the trip, DBU biology students conducted tests on the soil for nitrogen levels as well as potassium and phosphates. Farmers in Bangladesh typically grow rice for three seasons each year, which has caused the soil to become severely depleted in nitrogen. Through testing, the students determined the soil texture and advised farmers on the best ways to cultivate their land. Using their research, they explained to the farmers how much and what type of fertilizer would be best to use and when to apply it for maximum benefit, saving the farmers both time and money. They also encouraged farmers to consider planting a companion crop for one of the growing seasons to add nitrogen back into the soil and produce stronger rice crops the next season.

Dr. Deanna Noyes, professor of natural sciences, shared, "Every student who came on the trip was hand-picked by God. Each one of them was sensitive to the needs of their fellow workers, serving each other, especially those who were suffering from physical limitations. They all had fabulous attitudes and did their assigned tasks willingly and well."

For the business students, time was spent meeting with individuals who received microloans from HARD to begin new businesses. The students examined how the individuals were using the money and the best ways to make their businesses profitable.

One family they met with were basket weavers. The father and mother used the money from their microloan to buy the supplies necessary to make and sell handmade baskets. The parents were having great success selling all of the baskets they were able to make, but recently had been shouldering the added costs of their grown daughter, who was forced to return to live at home. The DBU students met with them and analyzed their business model.

"We encouraged them to train their daughter in the business so that she could contribute financially, as well as gain independence and provide for her own family," said junior Ally Stryker. "This conversation turned into a time of encouragement for this young woman and showing her that she had so much worth."

After their meeting, the students prayed with the family, and each walked away from the experience changed.

"I think often we separate missions from development or aid," Ally continued. "When we are going on a mission trip we prepare our hearts and when we are going on a business trip or study project, we prepare our minds. It was incredible to see God work holistically. The Gospel was shared not only through our words, but through training businesspeople, testing soil, and holding babies. God moved so powerfully."

Written by Kalie Lowrie

Kalie Lowrie was the former Director of News and Information at Dallas Baptist University.

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