Sayeda, a mother of five, and her husband had lived in Myanmar for their entire lives. As Rohingya people, they were marginalized, excluded, and oppressed by others. Yet, for most of their lives they were at least physically safe. However, this all changed when the attacks by the Myanmar military began.
“My mother in law and husband were killed with a knife after he tried to protect us,” she shared. The depth of loss that she has experienced is impossible to express in words. It is heartbreaking to know that there are many others, like Sayeda, who have similar stories. World Renew is committed to ensuring that those affected by this crisis are safe and healthy, and its often women and girls who are the most vulnerable.
When her community was attacked and her husband was killed, Sayeda left everything behind in search of freedom and peace for the children. Now living in a crowded refugee camp, her worries have not gone away. For women and girls living in refugee camps, safety and security can be an enormous concern. Simple trips to collect firewood or use a communal latrine can be dangerous.
World Renew has constructed 20 community kitchens to give women and girls a safe space to cook meals, and a place to socialize with each other. These spaces can be transformative in the lives of women as they cope with and process the unimaginable tragedies that they have experienced.
“I would like to say to the people of the world that I would like citizenship in Myanmar and to move around with freedom. I want peace from the government. Here at least in Bangladesh they are being like parents to us,” Sayeda says of the support she has received from the Bangladesh government and humanitarian organizations.
“If we were to ever go back to Myanmar I would want to have a citizen identity card and the ability to live in freedom and not as a nomad.”
As we celebrate International Development Week, we stand together for gender equality. Countless Rohingya women and girls have been victims of sexual violence and rape during this crisis. We strongly oppose violence against women at all times and while we cannot change what has happened, we are working hard to help those in need where they are. Through creating safe spaces for women and girls to gather, and offering psychosocial support to those who have experienced traumas, we pray that the physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds of violence would begin to heal.
For the thousands of Rohingya refugees living in Bangladesh, this year will continue to be filled with uncertainty. Since this crisis began over half a million people have relied on the assistance provided by humanitarian assistance organizations, like World Renew. While this isn’t a long-term solution, we cannot abandon these families in need. Until there is a lasting solution, World Renew continues to stand up for those like Sayeda, ensuring that thousands can live a safe and healthy life as long as they remain in Bangladesh.