About 65 million people in the world today are refugees or forcibly displaced according to UNHCR. The reality is grave for a person seeking refuge in another country, who do not have any guarantee of coming back to their own land, which they use to call home once.
Kutupalong in Bangladesh is the largest refugee camp in the world right now, sheltering over 800,000 displaced citizens of Myanmar, the majority of which are minors.
There were still inadequate facilitates to provide shelter and required lifesaving items to thousands of incoming Rohingya refugees. Children were roaming around everywhere in the makeshift camps, without a clue of what to do. Lining up and fighting for aid handed out by the host communities even sometime during the pouring monsoon rain in the chill of winter. This is not what a child supposed to do. It almost seemed like they have lost their faith in humanity. They narrated stories of what they have experienced on the other side of the border that can take away one’s peace and sanity, some say they are the lucky ones who made it to the other side of the river.
Children are the most resilient amongst us all. We could see them adapting slowly to their environment and to the camp’s reality as it was being gradually set up. We were able to see these positive changes every time we visited the camp. They started moulding into their natural habitat of being children and doing what children do. Flying kites made with plastic bags and playing hide and seek and chasing each other throughout the camps, it started to look more like a kindergarten rather a refugee camp.
The was possible due to the efforts made by all the different actors including the host community. The initial priority was immediate life-saving support but soon learning and recreation centers, child friendly spaces, safe space for women and girls with child corners were being set up.
Recently ActionAid arranged a Kite Festival to mark the international women’s day and the children took control over the sky, it was almost entirely covered with colorful kites. And on the ground, we could see hope in their eyes again while they flew their kites high in the sky.
A lot of effort has been made to make the lives of these innocent children worth living, since the time they first moved into these camps. The children are smiling again- that is the biggest indicator of change.