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Alumni Spotlight

Determined to Do More

Tracey Evelyn Haslam, a 2001 BYU Marriott management grad, was shocked when she took her four children to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

Tracey Evelyn Haslam

Haslam learned how many people were sympathetic to the plight of the Jews during World War II—but did nothing. Haslam determined that if she ever heard about a group of people in a similar situation, she would be someone who did something.

Haslam’s resolve was tested only a few months later when she read a story in a news magazine about Rohingya refugees fleeing to Bangladesh because they were facing genocide in their home country of Myanmar. “As I watched YouTube videos about the horrible things that were happening,” Haslam recalls, “I knew I couldn’t just sit there living my comfortable life in Andover, Massachusetts, and do nothing.”

Haslam wanted to help in a personal way and was determined to go to Bangladesh to help. She reached out on social media to anyone working in the refugee camps, hoping to find out what the most pressing needs were, ultimately connecting with a man who worked for a nonprofit based in the United Kingdom; the two arranged to meet in Bangladesh in April 2018.

In the meantime, Haslam recruited a small group of volunteers to accompany her on the trip, including her husband, Sam; her teenage daughter; and her friend Melissa from church. Together, they raised funds to buy supplies and connected with a Church member who worked for the US Consulate in Bangladesh as well as the Church’s branch president in Dhaka. Armed with willing hearts and $10,000 in funds, Haslam’s group made the 20-hour plane trip to Bangladesh, not knowing exactly what their plans were but ready to use every penny and all their energy to help.

Once the team arrived in the country, Haslam’s British contact helped them secure passes to the refugee camps—some of the world’s largest that are home to more than a million people. Many of the refugees were children who had little to do during the day, so Haslam and her colleagues decided to focus their efforts on education. On that first trip, they commissioned a school and a borehole well to provide clean water, and left money to execute additional wells.

Immediately after that trip, Haslam started a nonprofit, Compassion Takes Action, which is dedicated to helping the most vulnerable people in the world. The organization still works with Rohingya refugees but has also expanded its reach to include all of Bangladesh as well as select projects in northern Ghana. The organization’s efforts focus primarily on schools, orphanages, and homes for elderly and disabled people.

The nonprofit is independently funded, with 100 percent of donations going to those in need. Overhead is paid by board members. Along with collecting 0nline donations, funds are raised through selling baked goods, hosting garage sales and car washes, and even challenging people to “skip a cup” and contribute their drink money to the cause.

The Haslams also continue to stay involved with feet-on-the-ground projects. “After our first trip, more and more people wanted to come to Bangladesh with us,” notes Haslam. “The next year we had 10 participants, then 20. We capped our numbers at 25 because having more in the group is logistically difficult.”

In addition to bringing much-needed supplies, trip participants take part in hands-on, personal interactions. For example, the group might go to an orphanage to sing, dance, and play games with the children. In a school, they teach STEM classes, and in a home for the elderly, they give foot massages and present musical numbers.

“I’ve felt guided throughout this entire experience,” Haslam says, “and our nonprofit continues to grow a little every year. We started with $10,000 and have grown steadily year by year, raising nearly $100,000 last year. My hope is that we continue to grow so that we can help as many people as possible.”

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