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.
It was through Obat Helpers Inc. staff, Professor John Clark and Saima Hassan, Director of Development and Communications that I learned about the plight of thousands of stateless people stranded in refugee camps in Bangladesh. I was impressed about how geared up they were when I was informed of the efforts being put to address the living conditions, education and economic empowerment of these populations.
I worked with the president of OBAT Helpers to coordinate the first San Francisco Bay Area event held on April 9, 2016. The organization was able to get very high quality speakers that were flown in from the East Coast and Midwest for a panel discussion that was very informative and in-depth for the audience members who had very little exposure to this crisis. The volunteer team that helped to put on the event was also very committed to its success and a lot of planning and work went into creating a very successful initial event for this region. I hope to see this turn into an annual event so that the improving conditions of the stateless people in Bangladesh can continue to be front and center in the minds of the Bay Area residents and they too can work with OBAT Helpers to hasten the closing of the camps.
I have seen this beautiful organization grow from its inception to what it is today, watching on the sidelines as a donor and I have to say, I'm amazed at the integrity, growth and difference this organization has made in the last 10+ years. I have witnessed and seen the lives changed, empowered and inspired by the programs this organization runs. I will continue to support as a donor and one-day as a volunteer to the best of my ability. Until then, i continue to watch on the sidelines and become inspired and awed at the wonderful work OBAT has enabled.
Our student organization reached out to have some of the partners from OBAT Helpers come and speak to our members about the displaced persons in Bangladesh. We were excited to have them visit, but the presentation exceeded our expectations. Saima Hassan, Katie Basbagill, and John Clark we're thoughtful, affable, informative and engaging. It was a truly enriching experience for our members and we are grateful that they took the time to share their message with us.
OBAT has a very practical and powerful approach towards helping humanity. They are taking one step at a time and moving forward very quickly.I am sure their support is creating positive changes in the lives of people who have been helped and those people will take the torch and bring light to more families around them. The Education/School and Micro financing Projects are the best.