Aikido Lessons in Bangladesh for the Rohingya Refugee Children

This message is from John Fox Sensei, the Director and Chief Instructor of the Aikan Aikido Dojo, with branches in Phoenix and Grants Pass, Oregon.

For many years I have been greatly saddened witnessing the news of people around the world having their lives devastated more and more by violence, creating more and more victims. Women, children, the elderly, and families have all been simply labeled as 
collateral damage. 

In the latter part of last year, I became aware of the horrific experiences that drove Rohingya refugee families out of Myanmar into refugee camps in Bangladesh. For me, this was the last straw. In November of 2017, I begin making plans to go there to develop an Aikido program for refugee children. I want to create Aikido instructors within the refugee camps so that classes can be ongoing during my absence. If my efforts there are well received and productive, regularly scheduled return trips will be planned which will allow me to continue growing the skills of the Rohingya Aikido instructors.

Some health issues created delays. Now I have confirmed travel plans and expect to be in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh in the early part of December, intending to remain there for one month. At this time, I am solely funding this effort myself, and organizing it with the help of a few friends.


My flight landed in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Dec 4, 2018, just past midnight. Due to poor planning on my part, getting through immigration took almost 4 hours, sometimes making it doubtful if I would be allowed into the country. 


Up until now, I have not been able to gain any affiliation with any NGO in Bangladesh, though I continue to work to create some partnership, or at least a relationship which can offer some guidance. I was able to develop an relationship with the Hope Foundation Hospital in Ramu, outside of Cox Bazar, in route to the refugee camps. It is headed by Dr. Iftekhar Mahmood. He is now well underway building a new 7 story birthing center next to the Hope Foundation Hospital which opened in 

Arrived in Cox Bazar on December 5th at 3:30pm.

I made my first visit to refugee camps Kutupalong and Bhalukali 1 & 2 on Dec 8th. It was a 90 minute ride in a small van which was arranged by my Bangladeshi guide/translator/fixer, Mustafizur/Jewel (age 23, a college student studying business). Once at the camp, we waited outside for Tofail, my Rohingya translator that I met on line, Osman came along.