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An Orphan From the Camps Finds His Way to Montreal, Canada

I received a gift on Friday night, one unlike any gift I’d ever received before featuring a very special visit by someone not just from kilometers away, but from another world altogether: Mohammed Irfan Khan.

I’d met Irfan twice previously under different circumstances. Our first meeting was in 2009, while he was teaching kids at an OBAT tutorial center in the camps. I visited the classroom he was teaching at and had fun interacting with him and the students.  I met him again three years later, when I had the honour of inaugurating a cricket tournament for OBAT students and staff in the camps.

Irfan’s journey is a script waiting to be written in Hollywood.  He was born and raised in a displaced population camp. His father passed away when he was only three years old, leaving his mother with the responsibility of raising Irfan and his two sisters. She worked difficult jobs not earning much; the family lived in an 8′ x 8′ shanty and didn’t have much to eat, but Irfan’s mother exerted great effort to send him to school.

Irfan dreamed big: his goal was to get a good job so he could support his mother, make her proud, and give her a better life. But dreams can only go so far if they’re not rooted in reality, and the reality of financial pressures would have forced Irfan to drop out of school if OBAT wasn’t there.

With OBAT’s support, Irfan continued his studies in marketing while also working part-time as an English teacher in one of OBAT’s tutorial centers in Dhaka. He eventually completed his BBA and then his MBA and secured his first job, as a true professional.

As we dined together and caught up, I kept thinking about how beyond grateful and proud I was of Irfan’s journey. Once a young orphan from the camps with no citizenship or prospects but big dreams and a smile, I was now sitting with a smart, confident professional who was meeting with top executives of major corporations in Canada and abroad (but with the same smile!).  Irfan has progressed but is still very much connected to his roots; he continues to support OBAT’s work and gives back to his community.

Irfan represents much more than an improbable story of success of an individual; it is actually a giant leap for an entire community.  It is a living example that The OBAT Ecosystem is not only getting people out of the misery of the camps, but empowering them to fulfill their dreams and thrive!
The OBAT Ecosystem has already produced superstars like Irfan – and the best part is there are many, many more to come like him.  All they need from us is to grab their hand.  Join us by extending your hand and being part of this generational transformation!

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