OBAT Helpers Inc

OBAT Helpers works for the welfare, support, and rehabilitation of displaced and stateless people by providing programs to alleviate the daily suffering and burdens of thousands of Urdu speaking people (known as "Biharis") who are stranded in makeshift camps in Bangladesh. OBAT Helpers implements projects in education and vocational training, self- empowerment through micro-financing, health care with clinics, drinking water, proper sewerage, and emergency relief projects. The Biharis have been stranded in Bangladesh since it achieved independence from Pakistan in 1971. Referred to as, “stranded Pakistanis,” this community was supposed to be repatriated to Pakistan after the t...

OBAT Helpers Inc
1100 W 42nd Street
Indianapolis, IN 46208
United States
317-203-0603
http://www.obathelpers.org

Board of Directors

Ayaz Malik, Afshan Khan, Anwar Khan, Rezwan Khan, Tipu Ahmed, Saima Hassan, Carey Craig, Maarij Syed

Project Leaders

Saima Hassan

Mission

OBAT Helpers works for the welfare, support, and rehabilitation of displaced and stateless people by providing programs to alleviate the daily suffering and burdens of thousands of Urdu speaking people (known as "Biharis") who are stranded in makeshift camps in Bangladesh. OBAT Helpers implements projects in education and vocational training, self- empowerment through micro-financing, health care with clinics, drinking water, proper sewerage, and emergency relief projects. The Biharis have been stranded in Bangladesh since it achieved independence from Pakistan in 1971. Referred to as, “stranded Pakistanis,” this community was supposed to be repatriated to Pakistan after the two countries separated but most of them could not due to political complications. They are presently citizens of nowhere, unclaimed by either country and marked by the UNHCR as refugees, yet deprived of the rights of refugees. They still live in the camps/slums that were supposed to serve as their temporary shelter forty years ago. This population is scattered across sixty-six camps which house around 300,000 people. Anyone visiting these camps would see a family of 7-10 people sharing a living space of 8x10 ft.; open sewers and overflowing drains; a single toilet or two for one hundred or so people; innocent six or seven year olds who should be in schools, working for a living; high-infant mortality rates due to absence of medical facilities; lack of clean drinking water; terrible or no sanitation facilities and nothing but abject poverty. OBAT Helpers is the only organization in North America which is committed to helping the Biharis to become self-reliant and empowered through proper education, health care and micro financing projects. OBAT started with providing help to one camp in 2004, and now, it is improving the lives of people in more than 30 out of the total 66 camps, after just six years. This is almost half of the total number of camps in Bangladesh.

Programs

The following programs are run by OBAT Helpers in Bangladesh:  Educational Aid and Scholarship Program • 7 different schools in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna & Rangpur. • Tutoring centers in Rangpur, Dhaka & Mymensing. • 2 computer training Centers in Dhaka and Rangpur • Education scholarships for continuation of studies, distribution of books, uniforms etc. to thousands of students.  The Micro-Financing Program With the help of ISDCM, a local non-profit in Bangladesh, OBAT initiated a pilot micro-financing program in 2006. The families in the camps received micro-financing loans for small family/individual business projects. The businesses are now up and running. Presently, more than 1500 hundred families (almost 50% of the camp population) are being self-empowered through our program. OBAT thus provides opportunities for self-sufficiency, and empowers individuals and communities rather than sustaining their dependence on external assistance.  Construction & Improvement Projects Some of these projects are: • Housing project in Mirpur camp, Dhaka. • Deep tube well motorized drinking water projects in Dhaka and Chittagong. • Improvement and construction of drainage/sewage system. • Construction of community bathrooms in Dhaka, Rangpur and Chittagong.  Health Care Program OBAT runs 2 health care clinics in Rangpur and Syedpur and sponsors cataract eye surgeries. These clinics help thousands of patients every year.  Family Assistance Program OBAT carries out food distribution to thousands of families every year. It also distributes Zakat (an annual tax on Muslims to aid the poor in the Muslim community) on behalf of others as well as meat (on the annual Muslim festival of Eid-Al Adha when Muslims sacrifice cattle and distribute its meat to the needy.) Besides these, monthly monetary help is extended to deserving families on a regular basis; financial assistance is given for marriage ceremonies and funeral arrangements; and legal assistance is also provided.  Emergency Relief Projects Relief projects are undertaken by OBAT in case of a disastrous situation, for instance a camp fire or a natural calamity such as floods or cyclones.

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