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.
I moved to Indianapolis from Texas and the second charity that I heard of, right behind the hugely funded Reconnecting to Our Waterways, was the much smaller Obat Helpers. Professor John Clark, Saima Hassan and the Obat folks began publicizing the plight of Muslim on Muslim violence in Bangladesh and suddenly, wham!, Bangladesh was in the news for gruesome machete attacks by one outlying Mulslim groups against blogging Muslims, secular Muslims and marginalized Muslims and basically any differing Muslims. Obat not only predicted this type of violence and this type of victim, but was already in Bangladesh trying to alleviate it. Bravo!
Since 2009 I have been working in Bangladesh with members of the camp-dwelling Urdu-speaking community, who OBAT Helpers serve. My encounters since that time with OBAT have been consistently positive, observing strong leadership and vision, enthusiastic and invested community-based staff, and youth who are just as enthused to get involved in activities and be empowered to become change makers in their community. Understanding the current needs of the camp residents and being in tune with global develop best-practices, OBAT has created the ''OBAT Think Tank" as a vehicle of youth activism and their "Clean and Green" campaign which emphasizes the role of the built environment in public health and safety. Well done OBAT Helpers and keep up the good work!
I visited the OBAT English school in Dhaka and was incredibly impressed by the work being carried out. The staff were well trained, the students were bright and intelligent and the experience was extremely positive. In fact, I'm not sure I've visited a non-profit before where I felt so much good work was being done. The organisation doesn't just run schools but also training centers, health clinics, and infrastructure projects in the camps. It is well run, efficient, cost-effective and makes a practical, tangible difference to the lives of those living in the camps on a daily basis. I only hope it can continue to do such good work, without which the residents of the camps in Bangladesh would suffer terribly.
I found OBAT's activities have been great in terms of targeting the unfocused groups in the society and developing a sustainable space for them to eradicate poverty, to establish social justice and entrepreneurship.
Wishing OBAT team good luck in their future endeavors.
OBAT Helpers is a wonderful collaborator with other like-minded poverty-fighting organizations in the Indianapolis area.
I have found, over the past three years, the individuals who operate OBAT Helpers to be caring people who work with extreme integrity and competence. Their mission and spirit transcends cultural and religious boundaries so that people of all faiths feel the urge to assist them as they help rescue these unfortunate, sometimes desperate, victims of oppression. No one does it better.