Rohingya Children Need Support

1Evan Schuurman is part of Save the Children’s emergency response team in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

Nine year old Shawkat* has a bandage wrapped around her head and vacant eyes that suggest her mind and body are worlds apart. I’ve never seen a child’s face look so empty.

Her uncle Ali, who cares for her now—despite her being the eleventh mouth he must feed— says she rarely speaks anymore. That is, until dusk each evening. That’s when the terror returns.

“She starts to cry and scream out for her mother,” Ali says. “During the day she’s ok, but everything changes at nightfall. She feels a lot of pain. She cannot sleep.”

I learn that Shawkat’s mother, father and three brothers were all killed by the Myanmar military forces. Her entire immediate family wiped out in a few minutes.

Soldiers entered their village in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State and opened fire, setting homes ablaze and killing indiscriminately. In the chaotic scramble for life, people fled into the jungle, including Shawkat. There was no time to take anything or save her family.

It was a brutal, planned massacre, says Ali, whose parents were murdered too.

Thankfully a group of villagers decided to take care of Shawkat. Carrying nothing but the clothes on their backs, they walked for days on end, up and down mountains and through driving rain.

Battered and bruised, they eventually made it to Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district, which is now home to some 800,000 Rohingya, including over half a million who’ve arrived in the past seven weeks.

Most have taken refuge in the makeshift settlements less and an hours walk from the Naf River, which divides the two countries. They can still see the hills of Myanmar on the other side.

Ali tells me he searched everywhere for Shawkat, and eventually caught wind that she was in a local hospital. In a time of endless despair, this reunion was a rare joy.

The settlements themselves are a sight to behold. Once lush green hills have been stripped bare. Terraces have been cut into the clay to make space for more bamboo and plastic shelters. When it rains the ground turns into a series of muddy waterfalls, and dirty, contaminated water pools everywhere.

The roads inside the camps are a hive of activity, with large trucks plundering up and down carrying tonnes of aid. Shirtless men run large bundles of bamboo while lone children wander in search of food, money or something to do. Umbrellas are everywhere, protecting people from the harsh sun or heavy rains – it feels as though there’s nothing in-between.

This foreign place is Shawkat’s home for now, along with more than 300,000 other newly arrived Rohingya children, many of whom spend their days in a similar trauma-induced daze.

Over the past few weeks I have interviewed nearly two-dozen Rohingya women, men and children about what happened in Myanmar and what their lives have become in Bangladesh.

Every single one of them told similar stories of deadly attacks on villages and desperate escapes. The heartbreak is everywhere.

The interviews were raw and emotional. Women wept before my eyes as they recounted their relatives being killed and their homes being turned into a blaze of raging fire.

I’ve deployed to a lot of humanitarian crises over the past five years including places like South Sudan, Iraq and Afghanistan. But I’ve never seen anything like this, where so many people – especially children – are so visibly distressed or traumatized.

Dealing with this trauma will form a critical part of the humanitarian response. Already, agencies like Save the Children are running dozens of therapeutic playgroups for younger children known as ‘child friendly spaces’.

But what’s really needed is education. School isn’t just about learning; it provides routine and a sense of normality, a place where children can make friends, play and remember what it’s like to be children. It’s also a critical form of protection from exploitation and abuse like trafficking.

Yet right now more than 450,000 school-aged Rohingya children aren’t going to school.

Ensuring children can access education in emergencies like this saves lives. Seeing the haunted faces of so many traumatised children like Shawkat, I’ve never been surer of this.

 

The Joys of a Letter Shared with Friends and Neighbors

Author Portrait_Nazma Akter, Sponsorship Program OfficerNazma Akter

Sponsorship Program Officer

Save the Children in Bangladesh

August 23, 2016

“It’s for the first time. A letter to such a little child is not only a new experience for us, but also a great joy for us.” said Sufia, age 27. Her two-year-old son Sabbir has just received a letter from abroad, sent to him by his sponsor.

Sufia is a home-maker and her husband, Delowar, age 32, works as a day laborer. Sabbir is their only child. Together they live in a slum settlement in the Rayerbazar community of Dhaka North city.

Later, Sufia and Sabbir show the letter to Sabbir’s father
Later, Sufia and Sabbir show the letter to Sabbir’s father

Enrolling children between the ages of 1 and 3 in Sponsorship has been recently introduced in Rayerbazar, in 2015 through our new Maternal and Child Health programming. Despite that this is a new initiative for Save the Children, the team in Bangladesh has already seen Maternal and Child Health has made sponsors excited. Sabbir received his first sponsor right after being enrolled in Sponsorship in August, and received his first sponsor letter immediately after that, in September.

Sabbir is still too young to understand what makes this letter so thrilling, but the happiness and excitement is greatly shared by his parents, despite that neither of them are literate. His mother explains, “We don’t know reading and writing. But we have loved reading the letter and replying to the sponsor with the help of [Sponsorship] staff. This letter has made us feel proud, as only Sabbir in our [entire] slum got a letter. We have shared the letter with our neighbors also. We are very thankful to the sponsor.”

In addition to making this connection with Sabbir’s sponsor, Sufia benefits from sponsorship support by attending early stimulation parenting sessions regularly. Our early stimulation parenting program is implemented through regular home visits or monthly group sessions with parents of newborns and toddlers. During these sessions, parents are taught how to aid in their young children’s development with playtime, language and communication, gentle discipline, healthy hygiene practices, feeding and nutritious foods. Parents and children alike learn with helpful learning materials, like illustrative cards and colorful picture books.

Sufia shares the letter with neighbors while little Sabbir is curious to join in the excitement
Sufia shares the letter with neighbors while little Sabbir is curious to join in the excitement

Sufia tells me, “Previously I didn’t know how to take care of a young child. But now, I have learned about the needs and care, including hygiene, food and nutrition required for Sabbir’s growth. Now, I can take proper care of him. We are happy to get Save the Children’s support.” Sabbir’s mother understands the importance of the Sponsorship program in helping her community, and how sponsors’ contributions directly benefit her child and family’s wellbeing.

Sufia wants Sabbir to have a good quality education. She wants his sponsor to keep writing to Sabbir, so that he too can learn from these letters and one day respond to them on his own. She is happy to know that her son has the opportunity to grow up with Sponsorship in his life.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Durga Puja, Worship of the Goddess Durga

Moazzam

Moazzem Hossain

Senior Manager Basic Education

Meherpur, Bangladesh

July 27, 2015

 

The culture of Bangladesh reflects the way of life for the people of the country. Festivals of different religions and cultures is one of these reflections. Durga Puja, for example, is one of the most important events in the Bengali society's calendar, meant to epitomize the victory of Good over Evil. This festival is widely celebrated in Meherpur, across the Hindu community. Relatives from different parts of the country or from neighboring India join this ritual each year.

The children at the third stage of Durga idol makingAt the beginning of autumn a rigorous preparation starts for celebrating this festival. The Puja committee hires the best clay artisans they can afford. Pals, or clay artisans, have an age old tradition of breathing life into images of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. For Durga Puja, first bamboo sticks are cut in various shapes and sizes to make the basic structure of the idols of the Goddess Durga, and the platform on which the colossal statue stands. Durga's figure is then shaped with straw tied with jute strings. The straw figurine of the Goddess is then applied with a first coat of clay solution with the percentage of water high. This helps to fill the crevices left by the straw structure. The second layer is applied with great caution as it is the most important layer, giving prominence to the figure. The clay mixed in this step is very fine without any impurities.

The lengthy and backbreaking process of constructing the idols is done diligently and methodically by the artisans, to create the most exquisite pieces of artistry. The perfection of idol making demands that the skeleton structure of bamboo and straw be done by one group of artisans, the clay mixing and applications are done by another group, and finally the head, palms, and feet are done by the highest graded Pals.

Durga

Goddess Durga ready for the worship

It is a popular belief that the Goddess Durga arrives and departs to predict the lives of people for the coming year. Durga reigns through her clay and straw figure for 6 days, standing on her lion mount, wielding ten weapons in her ten hands. At the end of the festival, the sculpture is taken in a procession, amid loud chants of, "it will happen again next year," and drumbeats, to the river or other local body of water. She is then cast in the waters, symbolic of the departure of the deity to her home with her husband in the Himalayas.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Interactive Hygiene, Water Safety, and Sanitation Classes for the Children of Meherpur Sadar

Bangladesh_dr

Dr. Asadur Rahman

Senior Manager, School Health Nutrition

Meherpur, Bangladesh

May 4, 2015

Earlier this year I traveled to Meherpur, accompanied by other senior specialists and managers of School Health Nutrition. The purpose of our travel was to observe our new Community Based Health Education sessions, and to visit some primary schools in Meherpur Sadar and the Gangni sub-districts.

Bangladesh_1

Students of Gondhorajpur at the Handwashing Corner

We first met with Head Teachers and School Management Committee members. We observed classroom-based health education sessions and demonstrations of hand washing at the hand washing corner in the schools. The children participated in the health education class very attentively and enthusiastically. To increase attendance rates through ensuring good health, additional teacher-led health education sessions are being implemented at primary schools according to individual class routine, along with weekly sessions included in physical education for all grades.

To answer the need for more education sessions on water, sanitation, and hygiene on a community level, the sponsorship program has started a new Community Based Health Education (CBHE) initiative in the Sadar sub-district in Meherpur. The objective of this new initiative is to increase the knowledge and skill of children ages 5 through 12 regarding water, sanitation, and hygiene through community based education sessions. Groups consist of 12 to 15 primary school age children, and are facilitated by 2 of the older students, 10 to 12 years old, from the community. The CBHE session we participated in was very enjoyable and interactive. The facilitators always aim to include innovative methods in each session.

Bangladesh_2

Facilitator Conducting Sanitation and Hygiene Session

How do you think we can help emphasize the importance of water safety, sanitation, and hygiene to primary school age children? Sponsorship program staff always aim to make learning fun, please share your ideas with us!

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

We Built a School!

Reichman

Judy Reichman, M.D.

LA Associates of Save the Children

Gosu Kora, Ethiopia

March 16, 2015

 

Having traveled for 20 hours to reach Addis Ababa in Ethiopia at 3 AM on January 17th, I did not know if I could gather up the energy to get in a jeep and travel 130 kilometers that same morning to see the school that our group of LA Associates of Save the Children had funded. But when I and the three women who went on this trip arrived, we forgot our fatigue as we were met by hundreds of children, parents, village elders and horseback riders who sang and cheered as we traversed the dirt road leading to the village and school.

School_welcome

Students Welcome LA Associates of Save the Children

Until this year, in order to get to a school for primary education the children had to walk two hours each way from their village! The little ones could not do it, and the older girls were not allowed to attend school unless they had separate latrines. These children and their parents dreamed of their chance to acquire an education; they knew it was the only way they could break their existing bonds of poverty. Save the Children has worked for decades with the government of Ethiopia to help establish schools throughout the country.

Plaque

A Plaque Dedicated to Los Angeles Associates of Save the Children

Once a school is built and supplied the government then provides the teachers and together with the community continues to run them. The local school often becomes the center for democratic participation in governance, child health, child rights and community welfare. It was with this in mind that the LA Associates of Save the Children raised the funds to establish the school in this village. The opportunity our journey afforded us to experience the joy and gratitude of the children and their community was extraordinary. Save the Children is an amazing global organization and we now have a West Coast presence here on LA. I feel honored to be a part of it.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

A Visit to Harirampur

Rajee

N.A Rajee

Senior Sponsorship Retention Officer

Harirampur, Bangladesh

March 9, 2015

 

Unzila lives in the colorful and fruitful village of Harirampur. She is currently in the sixth grade at Harirampur secondary school and her goal is to continue to read and learn. She enjoys reading books provided by Save the Children to enhance her reading skills.

Unzila_book

Unzil in the Sixth Grade at Harirampur Secondary School

Unzila’s family is very supportive of her endeavors and dreams to one day obtain a career and become very successful. Her father is a farmer and her mother is a house-wife. She has one older brother, two younger brothers, and one older sister. Her mother wants her and her siblings to receive a good education. She feels an education can qualify her for a good job or future career and will help her rise in life. Her mother wants her daughter to be a police officer when she grows up.

Unzila knows that the importance of a Save the Children’s intervention is immense because this organization makes many services available in her community and that she as well as other children like her greatly benefit from them. She receives books, de-worming and iron tablets and health related information. February 21st marks International Mother Language Day celebration and the hand washing day organized by Save the Children. These are Unzila’s favorite events.

Unzila_class

Unzil During Class at Harirampur Secondary School

With the help of her sponsor, her family, and Save the Children services Unzila benefits greatly from being a sponsored child. For Unzila, receiving a letter from the sponsor and reading it is a lot of fun. She is a curious girl and would like for her sponsor to write letters about the school children, especially those who are her age, what kind of things they learn in school, and the birds and beasts found most in their (sponsor’s) country. Although Unzila’s sponsor, Michael, has never visited her, she thinks it would be much joy if he did. She nourishes the fantasy of introducing her sponsor-friend to teachers and friends at school, giving him flowers, showing the canals near her home, the barbed wire Bangladesh-India borders and entertaining him with biscuits and chanachur.

Interested in joining our community of sponsors? Click here to learn more.

Kumro Bori – Sun dried small pulse dumplings

Tahmina Haider, Sponsorship Manager

 Tahmina Haider, Sponsorship Manager

Bangladesh

January 20, 2014

Food tells a lot about the culture of a people and place. In Meherpur, one scene is common from the beginning of winter until the end of spring – women busy preparing a traditional item called Kumro Bori. Using various kinds of fish, potato and other common vegetables, they prepare delicious curry, which is served with plain rice.

  Curry

To prepare the Bori necessary ingredients are pulse/grain legumes (Mash Kolai dal), white pumpkin (Chaal Kumro), water, salt etc. The housewives are competitive about preparing Kumro Bori. They prepare as much as they can keep in stock for use throughout the year.

 

Bori-making is a laborious process. Pulses are soaked in water the night before so their skin comes off easily. The soaked pulses are pestled to dough and mixed with grated, smashed white pumpkin, water and salt proportionately to achieve the sticky texture required. After completing this process, boris are prepared and dried on clean, rough cloth or bamboo sheets in the sun. It takes three to four days to make those usable.

 

Recipe: Fish curry with Bori (Bori Diye Machher Jhol)

 

Legumes (Daaler Bori/Hinger Bori)………..10 pieces            

Fish (Rui/Kaatla/aar)………………………………10 pieces

Nigella Seeds (Kalo Jeera)………………………..1 pinch

Eggplant (Brinjal) ……………………………………1 medium-sized

Potato (Aloo)…………………………………………. 2 medium-sized

Red Chili Paste…………………………………………½  tsp

Turmeric Powder…………………………………….  1 ½ tsp

Mustard Oil……………………………………………..4-6 tbsp, to taste

Green Chili………………………………………………4, halved

Salt…………………………………………………………..to taste

 

Preparation

  • Heat the mustard oil in a deep pan and fry the fish pieces. Put aside.
  • In the same oil, add the legumes, fry until golden and remove from the oil.
  • Add the nigella seeds, chili paste, turmeric paste and salt. Stir fry all well
  • Next add the vegetables (potato and eggplant cut into pieces lengthwise) and fry along with the spices until reddish in color.
  • Add a few tablespoons of hot water, cover and cook until the vegetables soften. Then remove cover and add the fish pieces, green chilies and the legumes. Add enough hot water to the pan to make a sauce and boil as needed.
  • Serve over plain steamed rice.

Preparing Kumro Bori on the roof of  a house

Round the Corner to the Children in Meherpur



Tahmina Haider, Sponsorship Manager

Tahmina Haider, Sponsorship Manager

Bangladesh

June 2013

Save the Children Korea CEO, Michelle Kim, and International Program Director, Jiyeon Kim, visited Meherpur on February 16th & 17th, to learn more about sponsorship programs in Bangladesh. They met many children and parents as they visited the activities we implement with kind support from our sponsors.
SCK CEO Michelle Kim with Pre_Primary School Children in Hasnabad Village in Meherpur_Original

During their short visit, our honorable guests visited an arsenic treatment plant that has ensured pure water for many families in Beltala village in Amjhupi Union. They observed a teacher-led Health Education session and a hand-washing demo by the school children in Jhaubaria Government Primary School. They also attended a grade I math class in Isakhali Government Primary School, where the teacher was using technology to teach children how to add.

Pre-primary school children of Hasnabad Government Primary School enjoyed the company of these guests and, in a Parenting session, their mothers spoke with Michelle. They told her their children do not want to eat vegetables, which they consider a problem. The CEO ensured them that this is not a problem only for Bangladeshi mothers, but for mothers all over the world.

The last stop was an Adolescent Center, where the children performed a drama about early marriages.
SCK CEO and International Program Director attended Parenting Session with the mothers of  Pre-Primary School Children in Meherpur

Before leaving Meherpur, Michelle and Jiyeon had lunch with some of the sponsored children at the Save the Children office. Sadia, Mohona, Sabina, Anamika, Sajib and Humaiyra came with their family members to meet the honorable guests. The children wanted to know from them how their sponsors are and were able to get an essence of their sponsors through Michelle and Jiyeon. Sajib sang a local song for the guests. One child brought a letter and two brought drawings, and they requested that Michelle and Jiyeon forward those gifts to their sponsors in Korea.

As the CEO and program director said goodbye to Meherpur, they expressed their wish to visit again, sharing that they love the children, people and food in Bangladesh.

If you are not already a sponsor, become one today!

Round the Corner to the Children in Meherpur



Tahmina Haider, Sponsorship Manager

Tahmina Haider, Sponsorship Manager

Bangladesh

June 2013

Save the Children Korea CEO, Michelle Kim, and International Program Director, Jiyeon Kim, visited Meherpur on February 16th & 17th, to learn more about sponsorship programs in Bangladesh. They met many children and parents as they visited the activities we implement with kind support from our sponsors.
SCK CEO Michelle Kim with Pre_Primary School Children in Hasnabad Village in Meherpur_Original

During their short visit, our honorable guests visited an arsenic treatment plant that has ensured pure water for many families in Beltala village in Amjhupi Union. They observed a teacher-led Health Education session and a hand-washing demo by the school children in Jhaubaria Government Primary School. They also attended a grade I math class in Isakhali Government Primary School, where the teacher was using technology to teach children how to add.

Pre-primary school children of Hasnabad Government Primary School enjoyed the company of these guests and, in a Parenting session, their mothers spoke with Michelle. They told her their children do not want to eat vegetables, which they consider a problem. The CEO ensured them that this is not a problem only for Bangladeshi mothers, but for mothers all over the world.

The last stop was an Adolescent Center, where the children performed a drama about early marriages.
SCK CEO and International Program Director attended Parenting Session with the mothers of  Pre-Primary School Children in Meherpur

Before leaving Meherpur, Michelle and Jiyeon had lunch with some of the sponsored children at the Save the Children office. Sadia, Mohona, Sabina, Anamika, Sajib and Humaiyra came with their family members to meet the honorable guests. The children wanted to know from them how their sponsors are and were able to get an essence of their sponsors through Michelle and Jiyeon. Sajib sang a local song for the guests. One child brought a letter and two brought drawings, and they requested that Michelle and Jiyeon forward those gifts to their sponsors in Korea.

As the CEO and program director said goodbye to Meherpur, they expressed their wish to visit again, sharing that they love the children, people and food in Bangladesh.

If you are not already a sponsor, become one today!

Cyclone Mahasen Moves Toward Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar Districts of Bangladesh





Mahasen authorKhaza Uddin – Communications Manager, Save the Children

Bangladesh

May 16, 2013


Cyclone
Mahasen hit the coast of Bangladesh near the southern district of Patulkhai early
Thursday and is now situated 130 miles from the ports of Chittagong and Cow’s
Bazar. Warning signals have risen to seven out of a possible 10 and one person
has already been reported dead.

Mahasen photo
Damage from Tropical Storm Mahasen in Kalapara Sadar Upazila , Patuakhali district Thursday morning. Trees were uprooted and homes significantly damaged. Photo by Save the Children.
Communication
and transportation have been disrupted, cutting off several communities in the
south of the country. At least 25 villages in Patuakhali District were flooded on
Wednesday due to a storm surge that washed away the flood control dams built to
protect the people behind them. This storm surge was reported to be at least
five feet height damaging 500 houses in its wake. In another southern district,
Jhalokathi, heavy rainfall is ongoing as water levels of most of the rivers continue
to rise. Cyclone shelters are packed with vast numbers of people and it is
feared current dry food supplies are insufficient to meet demand.  

The
Government of Bangladesh has ordered 1 million people in a total of 15 coastal districts
to take shelter in safe places including cyclone shelters. However, the number
of shelters available is not believed to be adequate enough to accommodate all
the evacuees.

It
is predicted that at least 8 million people will be affected during the course of
cyclone Mahasen, 4.1 million in Bangladesh. Save the Children have already
initiated our response targeting the districts of Barisal, Patuakhai, Barguna,
Khulna & Bagherhat, Satkhira, Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar in partnership
with 8 coastal based implementing partners. We have mobilized 1,500 ready to
use food packs and 500 lifesaving non-food items, 5,000 Disaster Risk Reduction
trained youth volunteers and 700 Village Disaster Management Committees who are
all ready to respond. Damage assessment teams are also ready and will start
work alongside national and international NGOs. Save the Children also has on
standby four speedboats ready to respond to the needs of the communities – and
particularly children  -in each sub-district
affected by the storm surges and flooding.

 

How You Can Help

Children affected by Cyclone Mahasen need caring people to
support our relief efforts. Please give generously to the Cyclone Mahasen
Children in Emergency Fund. Donate now.