Myanmar refugees: The story of a 10-year-old girl

By: 
CARE
Roida, aged 10, holding cooked food that she collected from a CARE food distribution to take to her family

Roida is 10 years old. She fled to Bangladesh with her family from their village in Myanmar. Now she lives in a makeshift shelter at Balukhali camp with her mother, father and her three siblings. She told us her story when she was collecting cooked food for her family from a CARE Bangladesh food distribution.

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 [cooked rice meal provided by CARE] for dinner.”

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 holding cooked food boxes at Bangladesh refugee camp

Roida’s brother, Abdu, is married with a young baby. They also share the tent. He said:

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 recognised. Please give us this.

Interviews and photos by Kathleen Prior.

Please donate now to the Myanmar Refugee Crisis Appeal and help families like Abdu and Roida’s:

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.