Profiles from Zakat Foundation’s Personal Interviews in Balukhali Camp 2
We meet some very special people while delivering urgent relief and medical treatment to the sea of Rohingya refugees surging across the border into Bangladesh. Here are just a few stories of survival from Zakat Foundation’s younger beneficiaries in Balukhali Camp 2.
Meet Mazeda and Safayet—Two Muslim Children
Mazeda is 9. She has no answers but these.
Mamun is her older brother. He’s 12. Safayet is her younger brother. He’s 3. Her mother is Fatema Khatun. Her father is Nurul Islam. She has a sister. They lived in South Mondru, Haishurpata Para, Myanmar.
It is Eid Al-Adha, September 2nd. They are happy. They are always happy. Then the Myanmar army is in the village.
They kill her father with a bullet, in front of Mazeda. They kill her mother with a bullet, in front of Mazeda. They kill many people with bullets. Mamun runs away. Mazeda does not know where he is. No one does. The army leaves.
Mazeda is alone with Safayet.
A neighbor takes them. Then all the neighbors leave. They bring them over the river to Bangladesh, in their Eid clothes. They have nothing else.
They are in Balukhali Camp 2. They do not live anywhere. Children are not given their own “camp.” They are minors. Camps are bamboo and tarp. They do not have anything to eat. Children are not given their own food. They are minors. Each day, they stay with a different family.
No legal process exists to bring Mazeda and Safayet out of the camp. They have no valid status. They are children. They are Rohingya.
Meet Ismail and Ansarullah—Two Brothers
Ismail is 8, his brother Ansarullah, 7, two of Gani Meah and Julekha Begum’s three children. Suman is their daughter. They come from Mondru village in Merullah, Myanmar, a happy family of means.
On 27 August 2017, the Myanmar army enters the village at night. They slaughter Gani before his family’s eyes. Julekha hides the children in their grandmother’s home. The army comes. They sneak away beneath the army’s very watch, flee for days to the River Naf, the border of Bangladesh. It runs deep and strong.
Muslim riverboat men are there. They will carry them to safety. For money. The family has nothing but their clothes. The boatmen see Julekah’s gold necklace. They will ferry them for the necklace, her last possession in the world.
The family enters Bangladesh in the chaos of twenty thousand scrambling new refugees. A human deluge sweeps Suman and Ansarullah from their mother. They are lost.
In a miracle, she finds both four days later in the bamboo and plastic melee of Balukhali Camp 2 in Ukhia, Cox’s Bazaar.
They were happy last week, in plenty, festive with the promise of Eid. By Eid Day, they are orphan refugees in a bare mud camp, stilled beneath a tarp. They have lived little of life but beheld its savage enormity. To no future do their downcast eyes look.
Meet Mohammad Osman—Looking for Father
Mohammad Osman is 7. He sits with his mother, Chenuara. She is very young. His grandmother tries to look after her. She is old. Something went wrong during Osman’s birth. Chenuara is now mentally impaired. Osman awaits his father, Foyez. He too is young. Osman is Foyez’s and Chenuara’s only child.
Osman cannot tell his story. The neighbors tell it for him.
Osman’s village is in the Phullung area of Myanmar. The army came to Osman’s village one night. There was no warning. They shot some to death. They wounded others. Then they left. Some villagers stayed. Some fled. The army came back many nights. They tortured the ones who stayed.
Osman’s father took him, his mother and grandmother to the mountains. Many hid there. The army knew this and attacked the mountain. They executed Foyez in front of Osman, Chenuara, and the grandmother.
Osman, Chenuara and the grandmother walked. They had the clothes they wore. Nothing else. They walked without food. They walked without water. Pain was all. They walked to Bangladesh. They had lost everything.
Osman, Chenuara and the grandmother live in Balukhali Camp 2, Ukhia, Cox’s Bazaar. Osman cannot vie with the thousands for food aid. His grandmother is too old. His mother insane. There is no guardian. Osman cries for his father. Osman cries for him often.