When we first arrived in Bangladesh, we visited a camp in Adamjee where OBAT has not yet done any work. I was extremely disheartened to see the state in which people were living. Seeing all this made me feel overwhelmed, the situation was so bad and I felt as if it would be impossible to help resolve such an extreme situation. But in the following days, we visited other camps in the area where OBAT has helped establish schools, vocational centers, clinics as well as access to clean water and proper sewage systems. The difference was extremely motivating. Despite still living in these difficult conditions, the children in particular showed a huge amount of promise. Being able to attend proper schools will not only allow them to get educated and find good jobs, but also brings about a very important change in attitude. They are taking on initiatives to clean up their camps and help those who are even less fortunate than them. They are becoming better integrated into the greater society and will not allow themselves to be marginalized and live in these conditions for much longer. All of this made me realize that no matter how small of an effort we make, it can make an incredible difference in people’s lives. Despite the short amount of time and limited resources, the effect of OBAT's efforts is apparent and will change the generations to come. We heard many stories from orphans and widows that made me feel truly grateful for what we have been blessed with here in Canada. As difficult as it was to hear some of these heart wrenching cases, it was also amazing to see the resolve and determination of these people. Despite all that they have faced, they still have a positive outlook on life and are extremely thankful to those who are trying to help them. We met a successful local businessman who is also very involved in philanthropic activities, and he said something that has stuck with me: Helping others with the excess wealth that we have been blessed with should not be considered charity - it is our obligation. Those less fortunate than us are entitled to this wealth more than we are. I was extremely impressed with the work that OBAT has done, and would like to thank Anwar Uncle and the entire OBAT team for their tremendous efforts.
OBAT is amazing. We did a Iftar together that me and my friend organized. It had a good turn out. They learn and teach people of different religions and beliefs and beings people together. I would love to do more work with them.
For the past few months I have been consulting with OBAT and Saima Hassan, Director of Development & Comms. Working with Saima has been a pleasure-filled experience as she is very charismatic, organized, poised, and determined. OBAT is in great hands and will continue to do amazing things under the leadership and guidance of Saima and her staff.
OBAT is a very transparent organization that allows a donor to know where the money is going, where the effort is being placed, where the work is being done. The staff is effective and easy to communicate with regarding any questions or concerns. Happy to have been a volunteer!
OBAT Helpers is a great organization to be a part of as a volunteer and donor. The initiatives that they have started to empower the people in the camps have made a tremendous difference in many lives and will continue to do so in the future. The staff and volunteers are helpful and show pride in being a part of OBAT.
OBAT Helpers takes a uniquely innovative path to addressing the marginalized Urdu-speaking population living in Bangladesh. Deeply introspective, OBAT internally addresses the needs of this population in order to reestablish the basic necessities. Looking forward to see this population flourish and to see OBAT grow as an organization. Keep up the good work!
I worked with OBAT helpers in January and was remarkably impressed by the variety and depth of their programs.
What was most impressive for me was how OBAT Helpers took advantage of opportunities as they arose, making sure every resource was used to its maximum benefit.
I visited one camp and one school in Dhaka and two camps and one school in Syedpur in July this year where OBAT is working and trying to bring a positive change to the people who really need external support for a better living.
20 years back when I was a college student, I was very frequent near the market camp in Mohammadpur, Dhaka. I have seen the sufferings of the camp dwellers back then. Now I am really happy to see the changes that OBAT has bought to them. It is not adequate and a lot of work need to be done but I have seen hope in the eyes of the people specially the children. I met with the students and alumni of the OBAT English School in Dhaka, talked to them for hours, interviewed them and noticed the confidence that they have now which was not there before. OBAT helped to build this confidence by providing education and financial support to the deserving students.
I also met with the OBAT Think Tank – the youth group from the camp who are determined to bring change in their life. They took this opportunity to nurture their communications and leadership skills by engaging in volunteer activities inside the camps.
I went to the market camp and interviewed one women who is a beneficiary of OBAT Helpers. I have seen the clean water facility and the drainage system built by OBAT inside the camp.
My visit to Bashbari camp and Munshipara camp in Syedpur were exciting too. In Bashbari camp, OBAT established a Sewing Training Center, Computer Training Center and a Tutorial Center. It was surprising to see the number of women from nearby camps who came to learn sewing and basic computer operating so that they can work or find a job to support their families.
My last destination was Munshipara Camp where I attended a weekly collection meeting where OBAT’s microfinance beneficiaries and staff met to collect the weekly installments of the small business loan.
I interviewed a couple of people who took small business loans and started their business. They paid back timely and took a bigger loan to expand their business which is really inspiring. I have seen the eagerness among families to be financially solvent and get out from the camp to live a better life. They are grateful to OBAT for helping them to become integrated into the mainstream.
OBAT has surely made an impact with its limited resources in these camps but still a long way to go. I hope that OBAT would be able to increase its footprint in all the camps in Bangladesh soon. I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart the OBAT team here in Indiana and the team who are working hard in the camps in Bangladesh.
Very few organizations have the sort of cross-generational impact that OBAT Helpers has had. From the young volunteers who gather to help with events and mailings to entire communities who sponsor schools, clinics, and other projects - OBAT has inspired countless individuals around the world. The staff, volunteers, and donors perfectly embody the organization's mission of empowerment.
While the population living in the camps have lived without basic means and necessities for decades, I have personally witnessed their true hope and trust in OBAT Helpers as the organization begins to slowly transform the quality of life for thousands.
If you are looking for an organization to support, volunteer with, or work for - you will not regret your contributions for even a moment!
I had the honor of working with about 40 young people who are participating in a think-tank run by Obat Helpers in the Fall of 2014. I was blown away by their enthusiasm and optimism for their future, the clarity of vision that they were making a difference for themselves and their community, and a deep commitment to improving the lives of those around them. My experience was one of the most memorable and enjoyable in my 28 years of living in and traveling around Asia.
I am so thankful for OBAT Helpers for giving the opportunity and the resources to spend time in the camp-dwelling Urdu-Speaking community. My main purpose was working with women and trying to understand maternal care access and use. I spoke with women of varying ages, backgrounds and camps. I was fortunate to spend time in various camps in Dhaka, Chittagong and Syedpur. Immediately, I understood that various factors and problems the women faced on a daily basis intersected with their access to proper maternal care. The conditions were appalling: the cramped quarters, limited access to bathroom facilities, and cooking fumes that filled the tiny alleys. However, I was thankful to see the amount of work OBAT Helpers is putting in to address these factors and access to maternal care itself. The importance of clean water for babies who need to be bottle fed is essential for their health. The multiple deep water wells and water point OBAT was working to provide for clean water came as a relief.
There were specific problems women faced and it was inspiring to see OBAT taking into consideration their specific issues and working to address them. Being able to talk to OBAT’s directors who had experience in this field and explained how the plans they were implementing would be the most effective in the long run was immensely educational. The workers were some of the most hard-working, compassionate and patient people I have ever seen. I can only hope to do half of the work they do and be half of who they are as human beings. I was overcome by the love the children would show at every OBAT school I visited. You could see in their eyes that they were grateful for the opportunity they were being given and were motivated to work hard and overcome their conditions. The investment OBAT is putting into the children of the camps in absolutely necessary for the growth of the communities, they stand as a hope out of the devastating conditions. This organization is one of the most organized and dedicated I have ever seen and believe that they will continue to do amazing work. Their changes to the community were apparent in the way the community members would speak about the changes and the hope they had. I am looking forward to continue working with OBAT Helpers and offering any help I can.
I spent three weeks in Bangladesh, volunteering with OBAT in the camps for stranded Pakistanis. I was impressed by the dedication of OBAT's field staff and walking through the camps with them I observed how they were well liked and appreciated by the community, with many people coming up to greet us with smiles. Although, camp conditions were really shocking for me to see (a Canadian visiting such place for the first time), it would have been absolutely horrendous if OBAT was not doing such great work. I saw the water points and deep tube wells that OBAT had established and was operating, the repairs and construction of public toilets and sewage systems, operations of a medical clinic and pharmacy (dispensing subsidized medication) and how all of these were vital to the community. The camp residents we met were so thankful to have these facilities and mentioned how it made their lives easier especially the water points where previously they had to walk far, wait long and the water quality was not as good.
However, for me the best part was seeing a generation of children that were educated through OBAT schools. The young students we met in OBAT run schools were so positive and seemed so motivated to study. The older students who were volunteering with us had so much confidence and hope in their future despite the difficult living conditions and this is where I feel OBAT has really left a mark. They have provided a generation of kids hope that they can dream of good jobs and better living conditions due to their education. In particular, the girls were so brave and told us that with the help of OBAT staff they had convinced their parents to let them pursue their education and not marry them off at a young age. The social change brought by education cannot be represented in numbers and dollars, but it is such an important intangible in reversing the trend of impoverishment in these communities.