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Review for Obat Helpers Inc, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I climbed into an ambulance on January 14, 2020 with 20 pounds of brightly colored poster board, markers, watercolors, color pencils, and three copies of "Dear Child," a picture book for Rohingya children. This was how OBAT Helpers and I greeted each other in Cox’s Bazar, and it’s how we started every day for the next two weeks. Each morning we woke up to fresh roti and milk tea in the OBAT house in Ukhiya, a village in South East Bangladesh on the border with Myanmar. OBAT's committed team of local doctors, nurses, and dentists piled into the ambulance together and road each day into the largest refugee camp in the world.

After a short hike up a steep hill we made it to “the famous clinic.” That’s what the Rohingya community calls OBAT’s health center, which sees between 200 and 300 patients a day. Many of the visitors are children who wait long hours while their parents seek care. OBAT Helpers invited me to create a child friendly space at their clinic where, with the help of OBAT's kind and empathetic Rohingya interpreters, we made artwork and read "Dear Child." Children decorated OBAT's health clinic, bringing bright color, traditional designs, and cheer to the whole community. I am grateful to OBAT for enabling me to learn from the Rohingya children and their community, who provided invaluable feedback on "Dear Child" as they shared their own stories, challenges, illustrations, aspirations, and innovations.

OBAT enabled me to apply me experience in M&E and communications to support their programs. I conducted interviews with OBAT teachers at temporary learning centers, students, and health clinic staff, to understand the challenges, accomplishments, and aspirations of the OBAT community. This data, along with photos from the field, went into OBAT's regular reporting, and I was impressed with OBAT's receptivity to observations and recommendations- a true testament to OBAT's interest in learning from the Rohingya as their needs evolve and to their accountability to meeting the needs of the crisis-affected population.

Having been so impressed by OBAT's work, I was happy to create three short videos to support OBAT's fundraising efforts for education and health programs. After spending time speaking with and observing OBAT's team and programs, both in the camps and with the host community, I am truly amazed and moved by their commitment to improving health and education outcomes for the entire crisis-affected population- to listening, to empathizing, and to empowering Rohingya team members as leaders within their community. It was a true honor to spend time with the OBAT team.

-Jade Hawes, Humanitarian Picture Books (L3C) Founder. Masters in Global Human Development and Humanitarian Crisis Response, Georgetown University.

Role:  Volunteer