I visited Kutapalong camp in February 2017 and in Februay 2018 and September 2018. The visit in 2017 was a real eye opener physically witnessing for the first time how approximately 400,000 displayed Rohingya people are living in the Kutupalong camp in scantly conditions since 1992. In my first visit I visited the office of the UNHCR and met the senior officer Mr Iktaruddin Bayzid with whom I have kept in touch and continued to meet on my subsequent visits. In 2017 I also met Rohingya comrades Md Shafi and Md Hossain for the first time, just 2 of the Rohingya activist helping various NGO’s and Charities alike in ways possible!
Both comrades since have been and continue to be of great help and support for RANE and we often rely on their local knowledge and support in all our aid distributions thus far. If I am brutality honest then what I witnessed in my first visit was both painful and heartbreaking seeing and meeting orphaned children’s, men who lost their wives or daughters and women who have been raped, survived rape and or lost their husbands and sons! It was heartbreaking listening to their shocking individual and personal stories of how they fled, what they have lost and the conditions that they are now living! They are safe from harm, however living a life scavenging for everyday necessities. This visit led to the formation of RANE.
My second visit was post the mass migration of 25th August 2017 when almost a MILLION Rohingya people entered Bangladesh within days and weeks fleeing the persecution and the ethnic cleansing of this minority group of people of Myanmar (Burma). The visit in February 2018 was organised and arranged with the CAP Foundation whom RANE financially supported to establish the Maternity Centre at the Kutupalong Camp. The Maternity Clinic was officially opened during this visit and on the very first opening day a number of babies were safely delivered at this clinic. I also met with our Rohingya colleagues on the ground and delivered aid, sporting and education supplies for the young people in the camp. This was also an opportunity to research and take stock of the needs of the people and where RANE could have an impact. At this visit I met up with one of the Camp Officials who provided me with the shocking stats; that there are now a staggering 34 camps in total accommodating around 1.5 million people.
It was at this visit that I first met the wounded 15 year old Umme Salma who survived molestation attempt, however was shot in the thigh as a result of her fight. It was difficult to hold on to the tears listening her harrowing tale, how she spent over a week travelling on foot fleeing her persecutors without food and medical attention! Salma’s wish is to study so that she can help the Rohingya people. I was so emotionally drained listening to this young girls story, yet felt inspired listening to her plea that she wishes to continue with her studies which led me to do the #LungiChallenge – Lunghi is a piece of clothing sarong like which is popularly worn by men in Asian Countries. the fund raising challenge was that I travel back to the UK in freezing minus weather wearing the Lunghi, sandals and T-shirt; this fundraiser rasied around £700 with which we started to provide private tuition for Salma and 15 other young girls.
Two of RANE’s main focus is to establish ‘Safe Centres for Women’ and to continue to offer ‘Education’ opportunity/provisions for young people. Please support RANE and donate as much as you can.