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Happy 20th Birthday to BHP!

John Richards, MOHFW Minister Hoque, Karen Lund, Alex Berland at a 2014 meeting

The Bangladesh Health Project began at the invitation of IUBAT Founder, Dr. M. Alimullah Miyan to BHP Director John Richards. In November 2003 BHP Director Alex Berland visited the university for a feasibility assessment with stakeholders and officials; several months of preparation followed. Then the first College of Nursing Coordinator, Dr. Karen Lund, arrived in Dhaka and enrolled the initial batch of nursing students. In the following years, due to the shortage of local nurse educators, over eighty individuals, mostly Canadians, traveled to IUBAT as visiting faculty volunteers. Today that volunteer effort is unnecessary because local nurse educators provide all leadership and instruction.

In a journal article, 'A do-it-yourself approach to international nurse education', Alex Berland describes “lessons learned” in supporting the IUBAT College of Nursing from complete start-up to an independent, high-quality training program. He recommends that social entrepreneurs conduct research before committing to a project and rely on their own resources if necessary. Being an “audacious optimist” is also a must!

Berland's article concludes, “Although DIY projects won’t always work, inaction achieves nothing. In the time we might have spent preparing proposals for the unpredictable demands of funders, we have graduated well-educated nursing leaders in Bangladesh. It may be a drop in the bucket, but I believe our carefully nurtured graduates will amplify the impact of this small effort for decades. As anthropologist Margaret Mead wrote, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’”

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