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johnpacker

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Review for Obat Helpers Inc, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

A year or so ago, I had never heard of OBAT. Such has been the burgeoning of the global humanitarian and development sector around the world. But I have been involved with the Rohingya since I was a UN staff member in the early 1990s and first visited Burma/Myanmar and Rakhine State in the shadow of the 1992 exodus. I have remained involved ever since, and become an advocate for Rohingya rights including especially their own voice being heard in corridors of power where decisions are made about them. Nothing about Rohingya without Rohingya!
Last autumn I received a call from OBAT (Canada) to address a fund-raising event. I was happy to do so. I learned then how well-organised and serious this group is. It was an impressive event with enthusiastic participants and a highly capable organising committee. I was moved to make a donation.
In January, I visited Bangladesh for meetings in Dhaka and then to the refugee camps near Cox's Bazar. I pursued my usual contacts. On-the-spot, I also reached out to OBAT - interested to see their operations on-the-ground. This proved to be an important decision. It wasn't as easy as in the past to visit the camps, so the assistance of OBAT - immediately and ably provided - was crucial.
My visit coincided with the announcement by the International Court of Justice of its decision on Provisional Measures imposed upon Myanmar in the case brought by The Gambia for violations of the 1948 Genocide Convention against Rohingya (especially in 2017 which resulted in what is now the world's largest refugee camp that I was about to visit). This was, of course, of tremendous interest for the Rohingya themselves, and I was able, through OBAT, to meet and to hear and discuss the decision with them. I had already spent the better part of the day in the camps, where I got to see the OBAT Clinic and programmes in operation, and in the evening I met OBAT staff at their office cum residence outside the camps. I saw a dedicated and professional organisation, with knowledgeable people and nimble operations. I witnessed the effort made for, and the trust enjoyed with, the refugees. This was an efficient and effective organisation - clearly keeping true to their declared aims and their promises both to donors and to beneficiaries. I thought to myself "small is beautiful" (in operational terms)... except that the enormity of the needs made me wish OBAT had many more resources so they could scale up their operations and achieve so much more!
Having 30+ years of experience in the field, it is always encouraging for me when I meet new (to me) NGOs filled with wonderful people practising their beliefs in support of humanity, welfare and plain decency.
The world needs more of OBAT! I encourage those who can to support OBAT. I shall be doing so.

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field