Young Voices of the Myanmar Refugee Crisis

Young Voices of the Myanmar Refugee Crisis

Publication info

Kathleen Prior and Zia Choudhury

Roida, 10, and her family fled violence near their home in a small village in Myanmar. She now lives in a shelter within the Balukhali camp with her mother, father and her three siblings. Her brother Abdu — who has a wife and young baby — also share the tent. Roida and her family have received food and other essential supplies from CARE Bangladesh.

Roida’s story in her own words:

“Men ran into our village, shouting and shooting at us. They were killing us and burning our houses. We had to run away. We rushed back to our house at the edge of the village. We had to hurry. I only had about an hour to get ready and pack. So all I was able to bring with me was a small bag of clothes. Everything else was left behind. When I looked back, the village was burning.

It took four days to get here. It was very tough. We had to go without food and we just slept on the roadside.

We have been living here for 20 days. The worst thing about life here is the toilets. There are only two toilets for this whole area of people, and they are always dirty and full. It takes me 10 minutes to walk there, and then we have to stand in line. Maybe we have to wait for 20 minutes, even if it isn't a long queue, we still wait for about 10 minutes.

The other thing I hate is getting water. The tap is at the bottom of the hill, and then I have to carry the water up and it's heavy and I am scared to spill it. Here, there is nowhere to wash, nowhere private at all. I have two meals a day. Usually rice, and sometimes we have some dried fish, and some vegetables. I will save this [CARE provided cooked rice meal] for dinner. I like it, but I would rather plain rice.

I went to school three or four years ago. But then some armed men entered the school building and took them over. So the school is closed. I haven't been to school since."


Roida's brother, Abdu:

"When the armed men took over, they started using the school as a place to work and sleep. So the children are prohibited from studying. 

All day here, we just think about how we can try and make life better. And how we can go back with our rights to live in Myanmar. Once we are fully registered here, I think things will get better.

Our message to the world is to ask them for freedom of movement. We want to live our lives in the place where we were born, and our parents before us. We want our rights and our dignity. We want our identity to be recognized. Please give us this.”

To respond to the most urgent needs, CARE is appealing for $10 million to assist more than 150,000 refugees until the end of the year. Less than half of the funds have been secured so far. 

In total, more than 800,000 people from Myanmar have now fled to Bangladesh. 

Roida, 10, with food package. CARE Bangladesh has been distributing cooked food - often door to door - to over 3500 people, especially women and children, living in different makeshift camps. Credit: Kathleen Prior and CARE