Sixty years ago, when Association of Baptists first entered Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), our pioneer team saw many needs. People lacked health care, education, and hope. AOB began targeting those lacks, and our motto became “pointing people to our Provider”. Of course, Almighty God is our Provider, knowing all our needs and graciously meeting them. From the overflow of His grace, we in turn want to help meet the needs of those around us.
We’re not alone in this project. As AOB has been working specifically in Bangladesh, World Health Organization (WHO), working within the United Nations system, directs and coordinates health policies worldwide. It sets standards and monitors health trends. Across the country of Bangladesh, WHO collaborates with non-government organizations (which AOB is) and with medical colleges (which AOB has). Though Association of Baptists does not officially partner with WHO, we value their updated research and statistics. We continue to work to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of Bangladesh.
On WHO’s website, http://www.who.int/countries/bgd/en/, it lists Bangladesh’s current needs. By God’s grace, AOB’s programs are working to alleviate many of these problems. Glance at the underlined phrases below. They come from WHO’s list:
Access to Health Care is an on-going lack in Bangladesh. Memorial Christian Hospital’s OB-Gyn department stays busy, 24-7, intervening to reduce child and maternal mortality. All new mothers receive teaching from trained midwives in infant care and feeding.
We also offer extensive immunization services. By participating in the government program, MCH is able to offer life-saving immunizations to over 150 infants every month. In addition, we are able to provide tetanus prophylaxis to women of child-bearing age. Rabies continues to be endemic in Bangladesh as well; maintaining a supply of anti-rabies vaccine is an important part of the care which MCH provides. Memorial Christian Hospital also has expanded our detection and treatment of TB.
But MCH cannot treat all the millions of people within our district; hence, AOB’s Malumghat Hospital project offers both permanent community clinics and mobile clinics. MCH’s midwifery teams also go to villages throughout our district; they provide advanced training and give basic kits to traditional-birthing-attendants.
MCH sets health standards for clean water and sanitation. Within our hospital we have several ultraviolet filter setups, so that we can provide safe drinking water to our patients and staff.
There is an obvious link between nutrition and agriculture. AOB’s community-health-care training and agriculture programs both were initiated due to the malnutrition our medical staff saw. Now our health-care-training includes a 3-month course on nutrition, emphasizing improving nutrition with affordable foods. AOB’s traveling Community Health Workers provide packets of micro-nutrients, and they deworm village children.
People naturally wonder about how to cope with climate change. So AOB’s agriculture program helps boost agricultural and fishery productivity, in addition to meeting villagers’ economic and nutritional needs.
Gender Equality is a current concern internationally. We know God’s love for each individual, regardless of gender. So through all of AOB’s training programs - for example, Memorial Christian College of Health Sciences - males and females are empowered to do the work for which God has called them. And interestingly, MCH’s largest hospital department, which is devoted to care of women in-patients, employs 50 women in various capacities.
AOB’s Woman-and-Child Protection policies and training also address potential issues with abuse and violence.
Many Bangladeshi children lack access to quality education. Through our Human Resource Development programs, we seek to increase the number of years that children can remain in school and to improve the quality of education for all our students in both our formal and non-formal education centers.
Learning is a life-long, joyful responsibility, so we provide on-the-job training through annual workshops and seminars for our staff. Qualified individuals with sufficient education are sometimes trained on the job at MCH. For example, MCH’s pharmacy technicians take part in extensive classes in order to explain the medicine orders to the patients. Part of our health care training programs is a basic computer course too, assisting students to become more computer literate and proficient.
Poverty Alleviation. Jesus Christ once said, “You will always have the poor with you.” His comment remains relevant in every land. That, however, does not stop our responsibility to reach out in love and make that suffering less severe. Heart House Handicrafts continues to offer training and livelihood for widows and for physically challenged women.
In all AOB’s programs, we want to help lift burdens and offer hope. As God so abundantly provides for us all, we want to point to our Provider. Our hope is in Him.