Posted by Dr. Honora Norton
The Rotary Club of Scottsdale welcomed Jack Fresquez, Yale College ’21; B.A. Ethnicity, Race & Migration, as keynote speaker during the Club’s weekly Zoom meeting.  At Yale, Jack is former Vice President International Projects of the Yale University Rotaract Club.  Jack, a native of Phoenix, helped start the Interact Rotary Chapter at Trivium Preparatory Academy in Goodyear, AZ.  At Yale, Jack is a Yale President's Public Service Fellow and a member of the Yale Prison Education Initiative. 
Jack talked about the emergency medical relief effort going on in support of Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.  Cox's Bazar is the largest refugee camp in the world and the UN has declared Rohingya people one of the most persecuted minorities in the world.  Several years ago when extreme violence erupted in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, hundreds of thousands of civilians fled their homes to the refugee camp.  
Given the advent of COVID-19, the Yale Rotaract Club has found that the densely packed Rohingya refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar are especially vulnerable to coronavirus outbreaks. During his talk, Jack provided an overview of the medical relief project currently in progress,  The project is aimed at combatting the spread of the novel coronavirus in the world’s largest refugee settlement. Jack shared the following:
Historical Background – The Rohingya people are an ethnic minority living in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.  The persecution of the Rohingya goes back as far as 1948 when Myanmar declared this an ethnic cleansing.  The Lowenstein Clinic at Yale Law School found strong evidence of genocide in 2015.  
Geopolitical Context – Approximately one million Rohingya refugees have fled and sought safety from an ethnic genocide in the Rakhine State of Myanmar and have taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.  The Rohingya is one of the largest stateless populations in the world. Of these refugees over 400K are children.  Despite ongoing efforts to relocate people to safer places, Cox’s Bazaar remains extremely overcrowded. 
Public Need (COVID-19 Aid) – There are only an estimated 2,000 ventilators in the entire country of Bangladesh with a population of 160 million people.  There isn’t a single intensive care bed in the Rohingya Refugee camp, home to nearly a million people itself.  The World Health Organization warned that refugees are particularity at risk.  If the coronavirus spreads in what is now the world’s largest refugee camp, a humanitarian catastrophe would be imminent. Speed is of essence to prevent the exponential spread of COVID-19 in the especially vulnerable Rohingya refugee population
Global Grant Funding Proposals- Plans are in place through a Rotary International Global Grant to procure $40,000+/- in medical supplies, such as - air purifiers/ventilators, testing kits, personal protective equipment, such as PPE coveralls, safety goggles, disposable masks and N95/R95 respirator masks. Project partners in Bangladesh will handle procuring and getting the supplies to the refugee camp.  
Fundraising – Jack stated several in-progress global partnerships are in place, as well as, social media fundraising strategies. Key supporting partners are: Bangladesh’s Dhaka Mavericks Rotary Club, Rotary Club of New Haven CT, Rheingau Rotaract Club in Eltville am Rhein Germany, Boston University’s Sargent Rotaract Rotary Club, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh, Rotary International Foundation, other supporting organizations, as well as, Rotary Club of Scottsdale.
For more information about the project and how you can contribute, please visit website:
The Scottsdale Rotarians were highly moved by the refugee camp’s urgent needs.  During the call, individual gifts totaling $1,000 was collected.  It is likely the Rotary Club of Scottsdale’s Board will approve an additional $1,000 from the Club’s Foundation Fund.