By Jill Darken, Theresa Gibson, and Steve Lettic
Embassy Dhaka’s Resilience Working Group (RWG) is a team of employees, both American and locally employed staff, who brainstorm and enact ways to build resilience in their community. Recently they have focused on finding different ways to handle the new social lifestyle brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The RWG has sponsored exercise groups, virtual meditation sessions in Bengali and English, and virtual question and answer sessions by the embassy’s doctors. RWG has also held storytelling sessions by both adults and children and educational, interactive talks on meditation, nutrition, stress, child play therapy, and local experts’ pandemic advice.
One of the many ways that RWG engages with their community is through contests. In August, RWG held a face mask drawing contest, with the top three winners chosen by an embassy-wide vote. The winning creations were printed onto masks for the embassy community by a local company, Ella Mask. Winners were Visa Assistant Mohammed Tanvir Alam, International Criminal Investigative Training and Assistance Program Attaché Steve Lettic, and employee family member Mariam Howard (daughter of Information Programs Officer Lyle Howard).
On September 15, Ambassador Earl Miller met with Humphrey Fellow alumnus Mamunur Rahman, founder of award-winning social enterprise Ella Pad and Ella Mask—who assisted the RWG in their contest. The ambassador also visited one of the women-owned and operated home businesses tasked with producing the biodegradable masks. Ella Mask uses scraps from the ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh to make saleable items, hiring women who would otherwise be unemployed. In teaming up with the embassy, Ella Mask has produced and distributed more than 6,000 free masks to disadvantaged groups and those in need.
Jill Darken is a regional medical officer, Theresa Gibson is the deputy chief of mission’s office management specialist, and Steve Lettic is the international criminal investigative training and assistance program attaché at Embassy Dhaka.