In 2016, we celebrated OBAT turning twelve years old. As I take a moment to reflect at these past years, I am filled with overwhelming joy and pride. It has been an incredible journey and I am so grateful to be a part of it.This rewarding journey began when I read an article about the plight of the forgotten Urdu speaking community. It left a deep and lasting impact on me. With the support of family and close friends, I collected $1,700 and made plans to go and visit the camps to adopt a needy family.
Once there, I was shocked by the magnitude of suffering I witnessed. I realized that picking one needy family from among thousands of destitute people living in deplorable circumstances was not going to be an easy task. As I was walking in the filthy, overcrowded camp alleys, I saw a group of children blocking one of the alleys. When I asked them the reason for not letting me through, I was told that it was the women’s turn to bathe by the water pumps in the alley. By blocking the alley, the children were creating a barrier to give them the privacy they needed. At that moment, I knew that I would use the $1,700 to build private bathrooms for the women. While visiting another camp, I was approached by an elderly lady, who took my hand and silently led me to where she lived. Her tiny, dilapidated home was on the edge of a river of raw, exposed, sewage. She told me about a six year old boy who had died just the week before, slipping into the sewage line and dying before anybody could see and save him. Before letting me go, she made me promise that I would help and wouldn’t let go until I did. After coming home to Indianapolis, I told my family and friends the story of my life changing trip. And as my friends told their friends this story, I had, by then, collected $20,000 in donations. That’s when OBAT was born. Our resolve was and is to bring hope to the forgotten camp residents, to provide them with the opportunities they need to empower themselves and to live a normal life, free of poverty and full of dignity.
The camp residents are like my extended family and even though the trials they face are endured by them and them alone, I experience their suffering and pain vicariously. I am proud of the several educational, health and self empowerment projects that OBAT has created in these twelve years for them. But, we are not stopping here. The need in the camps is immense and we still have a lot to do. In the coming years, we hope to achieve a lot more with your support. During my December 2016 trip, I had the good fortune of being accompanied by OBAT’s first Executive Intern, Sunny (also known as Abul Khayr, Sunny is a camp resident, an OBAT scholarship beneficiary, a volunteer and now an intern for OBAT’s Executive Director) who helped me blog about my trip during my busy time there. You can read all about how I spend my time in the camps here.
I want to extend my deepest gratitude to our hard working volunteers, employees, partners, and most of all our wonderful supporters, without whom all this could not have been possible. I hope that you will continue to walk alongside OBAT as it makes further strides towards its mission.
If you have any thoughts and ideas about how we can work better and smarter to serve the camp residents, I would love to know about them. You can share them with me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you all peace, health and love.
Founder & President, OBAT Helpers