The following is a first-person account from a 12-year-old Rohingya girl now living at the Cox’s Bazar refugee settlement in Bangladesh. All names have been changed. Story gathered by Annila Harris, World Vision.
We had a house and a bamboo garden back in our village. We raised seven cows. Father used to catch fish every day and bring it home. I like eating fish.
I remember going to school. I was in Grade 2. We studied Arabic and Burmese. My best friends Fatima, Menara, and I used to go together. We did many things together. We loved to play games.
There were different types of games like Ha-Du-Du, Gollachhut, and skipping. The jumping game was my favorite. For the jumping game, we had to sit down and join our hands and feet. Once we join our hands, then one person jumps over. Jumping high was fun. Playing with my friends made me happy.
Stitching was my pastime activity. I also liked wearing bangles. Back at home, I had many clips, bangles of different colors, and dresses. But I lost it all the day we left our village.
We were forced to flee. We couldn’t bring anything from our house. The day we left, I saw things I had never seen. Houses were burning. As we ran, I saw bodies. They were everywhere; some in the pond, some in the canal, and some on the road. I was scared and trembled in fear.'We were forced to flee. We couldn't bring anything from our house. The day we left, I saw things I had never seen.' Click To Tweet
On the journey here, all our relatives got scattered. They are now in different camps. We came here a month ago. My family and I live on top of a small hill. There are many tents close to one another. Our tents cannot be locked. There is no privacy.
My parents worry about our safety because this is a new environment for us. We are inside the house most of the time. Our parents don’t leave us alone in the shelter; there is always someone with us.
I really miss my friends. I don’t know what happened to them, whether they are alive or not, and if they are alive, which camp are they in. I want to talk to them and play with them. There is a desire in me to study again someday.
August 25, 2018, will mark one year since Myanmar’s violent crackdown that led about 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to Bangladesh.
We need to draw attention to this crisis. With no ability to yet return home, they desperately depend on the generosity of others for basic needs like food, shelter, clean water and protection. Will you ask your member of Congress to respond? Use the form below to contact your representatives and tell them that, as an American, you want the United States to continue our history of aiding and caring for the oppressed and vulnerable.
Photo: Two Rohingya girls play the “jumping game” inside a tent at Cox’s Bazar settlement in Bangladesh. ©2017 World Vision, Annila Harris.