We have all been living in uncertain times. Hope that during this unnatural order of things we are experiencing, you have found comfort in your loved ones. Thanks to technology, we can minimize the effects of isolation and still feel a part of each other’s lives and worlds.
OBAT’s educational programs in Bangladesh have been closed as well as a preventative measure against COVID-19. So far, we have been lucky and no case has been detected. However, the potential for the disease to spread is high and can lead to disastrous consequences due to the cramped living conditions as well as the lack of hygiene in the camps.
In this grim atmosphere, we wanted to give you a reason to smile and would like to share with you many positive updates that have happened since we last shared news with you about the Rohingya projects:
Student Assessments Ensure Provision of Quality Education
During January, all OBAT students in levels 1 and 2 in the Rohingya Learning Centers, were evaluated based on their performance in the December examinations.
Our Education Team worked hard to adjust class lists accordingly, ensuring that children who passed the exams moved up a level for the new year of learning. Evaluation and assessments are vital to ensuring that quality education is provided and that the children's abilities have grown as a result of the education we provide. Our team held parent meetings for all our 23 Learning Centers, and parents were given progress cards that reported on last year's performance of their children.
Digital Learning assessments are being conducted at present as well, with the assistance of Teach the World Foundation (TTWF), OBAT's partner organization. The results will not only determine which students advance to the next level of study but will also provide useful data to the TTWF team, which they will use to continue studying the impact of a Digital Learning curriculum on students' learning outcomes worldwide. Learning Center 1's teacher, Ubaidua, proudly shared with us that all his students scored above 90 percent on their exam two weeks ago.
New Digital Learning Program for 84 Rohingya Youth
OBAT Helpers USA and Prantic Unnayan Society are partners in providing 180 children in the Rohingya Camp and Host Community with access to 'Digital Learning' education, with partnering organization, Teach the World Foundation. OBAT is now expanding the current Digital Learning Project to reach youth and adolescents. Youth and adolescents are a neglected and vulnerable demographic in the camp, with limited opportunities to access education, life skills sessions, and capacity building. This group is vulnerable to joining radicalized groups, child marriage, human trafficking, and child labor. Thus their engagement in programming such as our new project, will serve to minimize this vulnerability. Our new project will mean that 84 vulnerable youth and adolescents have the opportunity to engage in classes that will build their capacity in English, Burmese, Mathematics and Life Skills, as well as build their confidence.
Enrollment of adolescent girls and boys took place in January, and at present, nearly all the spots in this new project have been filled! We anticipate that classes will be able to begin in the coming weeks.
Rohingya Children Receive Psycho-Social Support Through Volunteer Initiatives
"Dear Child," is a letter to refugee children in picture book form, created by Jade, Founder of Humanitarian Picture Books. Jade is a humanitarian specialized in Program Design, Monitoring and Evaluation and holds a Masters degree in International Development and Humanitarian Crisis Response. Jade spent 10 days with us in the Kutupalong Camp, assisting with various areas of education and health programming, as well as researching for her picture book through dialogues and interactions with Rohingya children and adults.
Humanitarian Picture Books 'convenes crisis-affected communities, story tellers, humanitarian actors, and artists to deliver tailored, healing stories to children coping with crisis.'
They are an organisation on the forefront of what is needed most in the camps- psychosocial support.
Thank you to Jade for everything, and for gifting copies of her precious book, "Dear Child." The kids adore them!
Rohingya Projects Receive Teams from North American Universities
John is a Neuberger-Jesin Professor of International Conflict Resolution in the Faculty of Law, and Director of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre, at the University of Ottawa. He has held a professional career in the field of international human rights, diplomacy and security for over 30 years, having worked in the United Nations and serving as a current adviser to the UN and many international NGOs and human rights organizations. Professor Packer and his Research Assistant, Anne-Lise, visited the Health Post of OBAT Helpers, and spoke to a group of Rohingya community members there, as their visit coincided with the most recent International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on the Rohingya case put forward by Gambia. Professor Packer led a discussion about the ICJ case, asking the Rohingya community members gathered about their thoughts and opinions on the trial, and what it meant for their people.
A team of researchers from the University of Arizona led by Professor Simmons, visited the OBAT Office in Ukhiya as well, to learn about the projects OBAT runs in the camp and Host Community. Professor Simmons and his team recently received a grant from National Geographic to implement a study and project with Rohingya children. They are currently conducting a site visit to determine the scope and format of their future study. The team visited our Host Community Digital Learning class and was impressed by the level of community engagement OBAT and our partner organization Prantic ensure when implementing all projects. The University of Arizona team donated a framed picture to us, drawn by a student of a high school in Dhaka about the Rohingya Crisis- the picture was hung up in our office.
Art Project of Children Brightens up Clinic
In the bleak environment of the camp, especially in the somber atmosphere in the clinic, cheeriness is often missing and much needed. Volunteer Jade tried to add some cheer by bringing her art supplies and materials to our Health Post for days of art making and poster creating with the children in the Rohingya clinic's waiting room. The children had so much fun drawing on large colorful posters and were so happy to see their work displayed in clinic at the end of the day. Patients and staff love the new cheerful clinic décor and the children have since often returned to see their work on display.
WHO Donates Two Truck-loads of Medical Supplies to Rohingya Clinic
The World Health Organization donates medicines for OBAT's Health Clinic from time to time. The medicines and supplies come in really handy for keeping our pharmacy fully stocked. The latest donation arrived in late January and comprised of two truck-loads of 24 different medicines and medical supplies. We are very grateful to WHO for helping us provide quality care to the patients visiting our clinic.
OBAT Institute Measures to Address Potential Spread of COVID-19
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we are thinking of all our OBAT family, our staff, supporters and beneficiaries, and wishing them safety and health. We are especially and deeply concerned about the outbreak’s potential devastating impact where we serve, in the displaced population camps as well as Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.
As a matter of safety and precaution, OBAT has been proactive in implementing measures, some of which include:
-Classes in educational programs suspended until April 15th until further notice
– Temporarily suspended hosting international volunteers while ensuring we are able to retain maximum capacity through the use of local resources
– In the Rohingya refugee camps, prior to the temporary closure of our Learning Centers, all education administration staff, teachers and monitoring officers underwent extensive COVID-19 awareness and prevention training, which assisted them in improving awareness in the Rohingya camp among the community surrounding our Learning Centers.
-All of our health team staff and staff from our partner organizations, MedGlobal and RCF, attended an Infectious Disease Prevention training. This training will be integral in ensuring our health facility can continue to run and support the Rohingya population in the face of this emerging public health reality. To ensure communication is maintained on key issues, the Clinic Team really stepped up in March, implementing more frequent meetings, and enforcing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protocols strictly. Our Medical Coordinator Dr. Sohel Rana is confidently leading the team and assessing the COVID-19 situation daily, in coordination with the World Health Organization, the Health Sector and the Bangladesh Government, and making urgent protocol changes in clinic as necessary
– OBAT is constantly in contact with the WHO, others in the UN health sector, and local Bangladeshi authorities for updates and guidance to protect the vulnerable communities we serve.
We are very grateful that as of now, there have been no cases identified. We are committed to continue to serve those in need as they remain most vulnerable to such challenges and will institute more measures if the situation evolves.
New Dental Chair Installed at Rohingya Health Clinic
OBAT's Clinic for Rohingya refugees just received a fully-equipped new dental chair set up for its facilities at the clinic. The dental chair was a generous donation from Refugee Crisis Foundation which has been partnering with OBAT since 2018 to provide much needed dental services for the refugees. OBAT's Clinic is the only clinic in the Kutupalong refugee camp to have this added facility for treatment of patients.
Our team is very excited about this addition! The dentists employed by RCF were already recognized all over the Rohingya camp as being the best dentists around, and this new addition will further improve the level of excellence of services provided. The dental unit is ready to go after addition of concrete flooring to the clinic to provide a stable surface to the clinic. Thank you to our partner, Refugee Crisis Foundation!
Visitors Continue to Bring Joy into the Projects
Mr. Hathia from France, was another visitor . He spent the day visiting projects in the Rohingya camps. Mr. Hathia was thrilled with his visit, which included seeing the OBAT Health Post and the Learning Centers. He was particularly enthusiastic about the Digital Learning Program that is operating in Learning Centers 3 and 4, and in two Host Community classrooms.A team from the Bangladeshi Red Crescent Society (BDRS), which included our previous Medical Coordinator Dr Bayezeed, also visited the Rohingya Clinic and met the team and patients at the Clinic.
Rohingya Learning Centers Hummed with Activity During March
Many of OBAT's Learning Centers in the Rohingya Camps were recently repaired by local and Rohingya volunteer laborers in the Kutupalong Camp. The repairs include re-daubing the mud-walls and strengthening the overall structure. The repairs are a very exciting development for our students, and were made possible by the generosity of OBAT Helpers' sponsors. The organization, Save the Children, repaired the fencing boundary surrounding 3 Learning Centers.
The children were also very enthused by the new materials provided to them to assist with their wellbeing and with their studies. The children in the Camp 8W Learning Centers received brand new reusable water bottles, provided to them by Practical Action, in coordination with the Camp in Charge. The children in our Host Community Digital Learning Educational Program were very happy to receive new drawing books by our staff, as gifts for their performance in recent assessments.
A meeting with the teachers was held in the OBAT Community Center, with positive feedback and reception by all camp residents and the management team.
UNICEF Provides Workbooks for At-Home Learning
Due to the COVID-19 situation, the Education Sector in the Kutupalong Rohingya Refugee Camp has stressed the importance of all children enrolled in Learning Centers in the camp to continue their studies from home while the closure of Learning Centers continues. UNICEF has delivered new workbooks for all OBAT students, which will be distributed to ensure minimal disruption to the education of our young learners.
We hope that the next time we get in touch with you, our world has gained some normalcy. Meanwhile, do keep the camp residents in your prayers. You will always be in ours.
Your friends at OBAT.
Student assesments- 2
Student holding a "Dear Child" Book
Visitors from Red Crescent
Eva with her art projects
Visitor, Mr. Haathia
Volunteer, Jade Hawes
Art project by the kids
Medical supplies donated by WHO
Medical supplies donated by WHO- 1
New dental chair
Students with their water bottles
Books provided by UNICEF
Repairs of learning center
Repairs of Learning Center 2