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Working With Refugees in Bangladesh: One Day at a Time

Photo: Nusrat Daud Pritha/CARE

Photo: Nusrat Daud Pritha/CARE

Photo: Nusrat Daud Pritha/CARE

With nearly a million Rohingya people living in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, every day is a challenge for CARE staff

Ananya Nandy is a reporting, documentation, and monitoring officer for CARE Bangladesh.

The best part of my job is helping refugees. Rohingya refugees have experienced many human rights violations in Myanmar. As a law graduate, this is an opportunity for me to work to protect them from harm, and make sure they have a dignified standard of living. I am also an advocate at Chittagong Judge’s Court. At court, I witnessed that women and adolescent girls do not have adequate privacy to express the violence committed against them before the court. I learnt the importance of maintaining the principle of confidentiality even in court.

My most memorable day at work was when I referred a pregnant refugee widow woman to the Community Health Centre for delivery. I accompanied the woman to the health center as she was afraid to go alone. The woman gave birth to a baby girl that day. That moment was very memorable for me and made me more determined to work for these vulnerable refugee women in the future.

My work can be difficult – in the very beginning working with refugees was very hard for me. I was working with them from the early days of the influx and it was overwhelming as I had to visit almost 50 households in a day to identify their needs at that time. Women and girls were in very a vulnerable position. Most did not have clean clothes or hygiene items, such as soap and sanitary towels. They were traumatized from everything they had faced. Such issues made me very emotional and I became fully dedicated to the wellbeing of the refugees.

Falguni Das leads on gender-based violence and protection for CARE Bangladesh’s humanitarian response.

My job involves designing and budgeting of programs to support survivors/victims of gender-based violence (GBV). To do this, I identify and analyze the GBV-related concerns of the refugees to effectively design programs. I ensure that protection issues faced by women and adolescent girls in the refugee camps and host communities are mitigated. For instance, we learnt that a lot of women and girls felt insecure at night in the camps, so we prioritized installing solar streetlights so they could move about safely.

I used to work for the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs as a clinical psychologist. From that experience, my interest in working with vulnerable groups developed. It was during the same time that I found out about the violence Rohingya women experienced in Myanmar. I learnt about the systemic rape, torture and brutality these women had faced. I realized that these Rohingya women who had managed to flee were going through immense psychological trauma. So, I applied to CARE International, to work with Rohingya women in the camps to support their mental well-being.

The best part of my job is supporting women to eradicate GBV from their society and create opportunities for women’s empowerment. In my daily work, I try to encourage Rohingya women to be strong and help them understand their rights.

Samapti Chakma is a technical coordinator on gender-based violence and protection.

My job involves making sure all areas of the humanitarian response take gender, and the protection of women and girls, into account.

On a typical day I travel to the camp, and the children welcome me, and ask me lots of questions. In fact, that is part of my work: I have to consult the community women, girls, men and boys about our services and I assess their needs.

My favorite moment was working on an initiative to provide communal laundry with Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) facilities, which is essential considering the poor menstrual hygiene practices and lack of privacy for women and girls in the camps.

I am very satisfied with my role as it meets my life goal to work for justice and equality. I do in-depth basic gender training with the staff from different sectors, to help them understand gender harmful practices and beliefs which not only helps them at a professional level but also at a personal level.

Staff photos: Assafuzzaman Captain/CARE

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