Changing lives at the age of 91

Fred Hyde.
Fred Hyde. Contributed

AT 91 years of age, Fred Hyde could be forgiven if he decided to sit back and relax.

But Mr Hyde said he had other plans - which included heading back to his second home of Bangladesh again next month to continue work on his Co-Operation in Development (CO-ID) schools, which helped thousands of Bangladeshis receive an education over the last 20 years.

From his Warwick office, Mr Hyde said he was designing a storage space for the thousands of text books which would arrive in the coming months for the CO-ID's 12,000 students.

"I'd like it to be ready by the end of December," he said.

"It's a big job to sort them into lots for the 41 schools - it's a shockingly big job."

Mr Hyde said funding was still a constant concern and the organisation relied on donations.

"Each school costs about $8000 to $10,000 to build and furnish and then about the same to run," Mr Hyde said.

"We have to pay the teachers and we don't just give the students teachers, we give them everything.

"We give them books, pencils, clothing, food and medical care if necessary."

Mr Hyde said while he had seen Bangladesh move forward in leaps and bounds since his first stint there in the 1970s, there was still a need for more educational facilities.

"We are starting to build pre-schools because we found many of the students were bringing along younger brothers and sisters," he said.

"We need sufficient funds and it's not the big givers, it's the regular smaller givers.

"Whatever people can afford each month.

"What I'd like to see in Warwick is about 200 people paying about $20 a month," he said.

Mr Hyde said travelling to Bhola Island in the south of Bangladesh, where CO-ID headquarters was based, was more rewarding than ever.

"It's 20 years since the first school and some of those students have gone off and come back and now teach," he said.

"They had no prospects until we went there. It's the biggest reward you could ever get.

"It's different now, with more schools I don't get to know the children as well."

Mr Hyde said he would most likely return to Warwick in May next year.

"It's more of a culture shock when I get off the plane here than when I get off the plane in Bangladesh," he said.

Mr Hyde said while he often received the praise there was a hard-working committee responsible for raising funds and he couldn't do his job without them.

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Topics:  bangladesh education

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