Ayesha’s story: “Please help us”

Ayesha and her children in their makeshift shelter at Balukhali camp in Bangladesh

It was a regular, everyday morning in Ayesha’s village in Myanmar. Ayesha was doing household chores and her husband Abdur Rahim was getting ready to open his small grocery shop.

“We were solvent and happy,” says Ayesha. “We had a shop to do business, lands to grow crops and poultry. Our earning was not huge but was enough to live well.”

But suddenly, there was chaos. The village was being attacked; homes were being torched and set alight. Ayesha and everyone else ran for their lives.

They escaped from their village, but later, they were chased by people with guns. Ayesha heard gunshots and saw that her husband was hit. “I wanted to go back but my husband waved hands to go ahead with the children and not stop,” says Ayesha. She breaks down into tears as she talks about it now:

My kids are traumatised and often cry out of fear. They always want to stay closer to me and hold me tight. I still don’t have any idea if their father is alive or not.

Ayesha says: “With many other refugees, who were mostly unknown to me, we walked to the [Myanmar] border. We took a boat. The boat was very risky and not strong. Like other passengers and children, I was also crying.

“Finally, we reached the [Bangladesh] border and had to walk six-seven miles to reach Balukhali. Some people showed us the way to the camps. We drifted here to there for a day and didn’t even get a tent. Finally, we managed to get this shelter in this [Balukhali] camp.

I am starving. I can’t breastfeed my child properly. My other three kids are also constantly asking for food. But I can’t go out leaving them alone here [in the makeshift shelter].

“I don’t want to run anymore. Who knows next time I may lose any of my children. I don’t want to lose them.

My children are scared and tired. They need food and water. They need to play and laugh. But I doubt if they will ever get back to their normal life. Will they ever be able to go back to school?

Two of her children are now sick, with fever and skin disease. The conditions in the camp are terrible. This is not the life that Ayesha would choose. She says:

“I want to raise my children properly. They need a home and education. I want to make them educated so that they could work for the people around the world who suffer like us.

We are innocent. Our children are innocent; they don’t have any idea what is going on.

Ayesha says many children have lost their parents: they need protection, education and sufficient food. She says, simply: “Their lives are at stake.”

As she talks, Ayesha breaks down crying again. “We are very much thankful to Bangladeshi people,” she says. “They are very kind and helpful. We are grateful to them forever.”

We want to end this journey and our sufferings. Please help us.

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