I started my journey as a humanitarian worker some 5 years ago. There are stories to tell, things to remember and sometimes memories to ponder. Yesterday (20th June)was world refugee day. The day took me some 5 years ago to a specific event I have witnessed.
It was mid-February or maybe the beginning of March. A flash rainfall of windy Kalbaishaki (A weather event in Bangladesh) showered the newly established makeshift settlement camp. I joined an international medical humanitarian organization some 4 months ago. In those days, I was supporting the international and national medical teams with everything outside of medical purview to let the medical life-saving activities run smoothly without any external glitches. In those days, I came across an event that still has a vivid presence in my mind.
In the early days of the Rohingya exodus to Bangladesh, we had to meet with people from different backgrounds. Officials, peers, other actors, and of course, the people in distress. We met with a father of a 12-year-old child who was raped by a soldier in her country of origin and became pregnant. In the congested camps of Bangladesh, a camp in Cox’s Bazar where they took shelter, the father never let her out of their tent. The shame brought on to the family because of sexual violence and pregnancy was reason enough for the father.
When the child was born, he and his daughter left the baby behind. When we wanted to check with him, he simply told us he is not taking the baby with him to his family. It was my first job, and I didn’t have any previous exposure to such events.
The father said something, maybe from the core of his heart. His words still buzz in my ear, and I can still recall that day like today. His words kept me paused for a moment, and I needed a great effort to hold myself up. Finally, I couldn’t and burst into tears. His words just made me think about how would I be if I was in his situation.
He simply said,
“𝑶 𝒃𝒂𝒋𝒊, 𝑲𝒆𝒏 𝒈𝒐𝒓𝒊 𝒍𝒐𝒊 𝒋𝒂𝒊𝒕𝒂𝒎. 𝑩𝒐𝒓𝒎𝒂𝒕 𝒂𝒕𝒕𝒊 𝒃𝒆𝒈𝒈𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒂𝒔𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒍, 𝒈𝒉𝒐𝒓, 𝒗𝒉𝒊𝒕𝒂 𝒃𝒆𝒈𝒈𝒊𝒏. 𝑨𝒊 𝒃𝒆𝒈𝒈𝒊𝒏𝒐𝒕𝒕𝒊 𝒎𝒂𝒉𝒓𝒖𝒎 𝒐𝒊𝒚𝒊. 𝑨𝒓 𝒆𝒅𝒆𝒚 𝒂𝒓 𝒈𝒉𝒖𝒓𝒂 𝒋𝒆𝒓𝒇𝒖𝒂𝒚𝒂𝒓 𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒆 𝒆𝒊 𝒃𝒊𝒑𝒐𝒅. 𝑨𝒊 𝒇𝒖𝒚𝒂 𝒊𝒗𝒂 𝒍𝒐𝒊𝒋𝒂𝒊𝒍𝒆𝒚 𝒂𝒓𝒂 𝒃𝒂𝒄𝒉𝒊 𝒕𝒂𝒌𝒉𝒊𝒐 𝒏𝒉𝒐 𝒇𝒂𝒊𝒋𝒋𝒖𝒎”.” My son, how could I take this baby with us. We had everything in our country. House, land, everything. We lost everything there. And here, my daughter now had to go through this experience. If we take the baby with us now, we would lose our lives as well.
This is one of the millions of stories that make it a refugee, people flee their homes. Nobody simply leaves their home and life behind and seeks shelter if they have any choice left.
In the event of #worldrefugeeday2022, I honor Rohingyas’ resilience. And also, I would like to remind you that, the Rohingya crisis may have been categorized as a protracted one. The suffering has yet to be alleviated.