BANGLADESH – One year ago, life forever changed for Rohingya families living in Myanmar. On August 25, 2017, the Myanmar military began a campaign of brutal attacks against thousands of Rohingya people.
These stories have brought light to immense suffering and injustices that are hard to fathom. Fathers and mothers have lost their children, and children have lost their parents. Entire villages have been burned to the ground.
“The most difficult part for me was to flee from my house, leaving everything behind. I still can’t sleep at night; I feel the pain in my heart,” shares Arafa, a 27 year old mother who is now living in the Cox’s Bazar region of Bangladesh with her family. Arafa is one of the 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled their homes in Myanmar last fall because of extreme violence.
In the midst of this crisis, hope is finding a foothold. Rohingya families are displaying incredible strength. Mothers and fathers are fighting hard for their children to have a brighter future, and boys and girls are still finding time and space to be kids – to laugh, to play, and to find joy. Through everything she has experienced, and the challenges she still faces, Arafa remains thankful. “We are doing well here,” she says.
During Jesus’ ministry, he treasured the innocence, strength, and faith of children. “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” he said to his disciples (Matthew 19:14). At other times, Jesus called those around him to have the faith and humility of a child (Matthew 18:1-7). Throughout the Gospels, Jesus reveals God’s tender heart for children.
Today, children are some of the most vulnerable people living in Cox’s Bazar, and 56% of the Rohingya refugees are under the age of 17.
When violence broke out, Arif’s daughter was just 3 months old. Suddenly one day, the military attacked their village and set their house ablaze. Together with his wife and newborn daughter, they fled into the forest. For sixteen days they walked, with little food, and no possessions. Finally, they arrived in Cox’s Bazar. While life is still difficult for them, at least it is safe.
Today, even with everything that has happened, Arif has a bright hope for his daughter’s future. “From the time my daughter was born, I’ve been dreaming about her becoming a doctor,” she shared. “I just want to do whatever I can to help that dream become true. I want to give her a better education than I ever had. I want her to live in safety as a citizen of a country that wants her.”
In the 12 months since this crisis began, World Renew staff and partners have been on the frontlines helping children and families in need, like Arif and Arafa. With your support: –
$1.3 million in assistance has already reached Rohingya families through local partners
80,564 packages of food have been distributed – reaching over 290,000 people
13,500 people have received supplies to stay warm and dry during monsoon rains
500 cooking stoves and 20 community kitchens are being built, providing families with safe spaces to prepare and cook food
Thank you for your faithful support of the work of World Renew in response to this crisis. We are grateful to have the resources to help the girls and boys, and men and women in need. World Renew is still committed to working with Rohingya refugees living in the Cox’s Bazar area as long as resources are available to do so.
Please pray for the families, like Arif and Arafa, who have experienced unimaginable trauma and are learning to process their experiences. Pray that the light of Christ would shine in the hearts of those who have experienced such darkness and suffering, that children would be protected from long-lasting effects of trauma, and pray for the work of World Renew and other organizations as they offer assistance to these families.