A Rohingya child in harm's way 1

A Rohingya child in harm’s way

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8 year old Nasima* plays leapfrog with her friends in the camp, laughing and smiling when it’s her turn to jump. In a place overshadowed by hopelessness, her vibrant personality stands out. But as soon as she begins to recount her escape from Myanmar, Nasima’s smile disappears.

Nasima escaped from the violence surrounding her home in Myannmar with eight members of her family. Desperate to get to safety, they got to the banks of the Naf river and got on a crowded fishing boat. They stopped only to  call her Uncle Kashem, to let him know they were on their way:

“They told me there was 76 people in a small boat. Later that day I got a phone call to say that their boat was stuck and they needed help. Big waves were coming and they were getting separated. I heard them yelling on the phone. Then I lost contact. I went as fast as I could down to the beach to see if I could see anything but I couldn’t see them. The coastguard were on their way to get to them. Of the 76 on board, 60 died. I lost 7 members of my family that day and only one survived – my niece, Nasima. She held onto her grandmother’s dead body to keep afloat when the waves crashed over them. She was 8 years old and she lost everyone she came with.”

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A Rohingya child in harm's way 2

“When I saw Nasima she was sick and scared. She told us that she lost everyone when the big wave came. It was very sad for me of course, but in that moment I was crying for her and what she had lost.” Kashem, aged 50

Nasima’s suffering has already been almost unbearable, and sadly there is another potential disaster coming her way.  The annual monsoon season in Bangladesh typically brings torrential rain, flash flooding and devastating cyclones – right to the area where over 700,000 Rohingya refugees have set up a makeshift city of tarps and sticks, with no services, no clean water and no toilets.  Nasima’s temporary shelter, perched on an unstable hillside will not withstand the onslaught of rain and flooding. The overburdened toilet facilities in the camps are at very real risk of overflowing and increasing the risk of disease and death for everyone living  in the camps.

Thanks to our compassionate supporters, Tearfund has already helped provide rice, beans, cooking oil, salt and sugar, to 64,000 Rohingya families every month since last August, but there is so much more that needs to be done. In order to avoid more suffering during the coming monsoon season we have committed to doing these three things in one camp of 45,000 people:

  1. Install safe drinking water and sanitation systems. In a recent test, 81% of water samples in the camps were found to be contaminated with e-coli. $195 is the cost for each Rohingya family to have access to a clean water source.
  2. Supply safe stoves and fuel to Rohingya families for cookingWith monsoon flooding, thousands of refugees will not be able to get to food distribution centres which keep 91% of Rohingyas from going hungry. $35 will provide a stove and fuel to ensure a family can safely cook food  if they are flooded in.
  3. Install heavy duty outdoor solar lighting in camps to keep, women, children and their families safe. With violence and rape on the increase in camps, lighting is essential for the safety and dignity of girls especially at night. It costs $425 to install a heavy duty solar powered outdoor light in the refugee camp.
Please join us to save lives and reduce suffering for Nasima and thousands like her by making a gift today at tearfund.ca/RohingyaCrisis.

*name has been changed for safety and privacy
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