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Review for Obat Helpers Inc, Indianapolis, IN, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

In August of 2017 I began to follow the story of the Rohingya and their forced exile from Myanmar. This was a big story in Canada, the first country to declare that Myanmar had committed a genocide. I am a professor in Canada and do research in the field of culture and child development. As I read the news and witnessed the heart wrenching photography of Paula Bronstein and other photojournalists who covered the exodus, I began to ask how the basic human values of compassion, altruism and fairness, those that we all share when we enter life on this planet, could ever survive treatment such as the Rohingya have experienced. How could a child grow from this early trauma into a person holding positive, prosocial values toward others? And so began my effort to understand and to share the story of the Rohingya in my scientific world, where very few of my colleagues were aware of the horrific events of 2017, and the Rohingya’s longer history of persecution. It was Jean-Nicolas Beuze, then UNHCR Representative to Canada and a partner in my research who put me in touch with Dr. Shujaat Wasty, Founder and President of OBAT Canada, when I was looking for a local partner in Bangladesh’s Rohingya camps. I visited the field offices of OBAT Helpers in December of 2019 and was welcomed into the world of their Rohingya Relief program. At so many levels this is an excellent organization. From their partnership with Rohingya community members and the Bangladeshi NGO Prantic Unnayan Society, to their first-rate medical clinic and inspiring women’s entrepreneurial project to the very touching personal connection that Dayna Santana had with children as we walked through the camps - I was, at every turn, deeply impressed by the accomplishments of this organization. Witnessing the children’s digital educational program in action confirmed for me that this organization has their finger on the pulse of what is needed in the Rohingya community. OBAT Helpers and I are working together now, in partnership to evaluate a program to foster prosocial behavior in children who have experienced extreme trauma that we will launch as soon as the pandemic concerns have subsided. As I remember the faces and happiness in the Rohingya children’s eyes from last December’s visit, I feel once again my admiration for the effective outreach that OBAT has accomplished in these few short years.

Role:  Professional with expertise in this field