To date, there are over 900,000 Rohingya refugees fleeing genocide.
There are many challenges to their journeys.
Escaping death is one part of this story. During my 16 days volunteering at a rohingya refugee camp, I heard horrific stories and bared witness to the best and worst of humanity. As a disaster relief medic, I asked 5 basic questions to understand their state of health (urgency). How old are you? What are your symptoms? How long have you been at the camp? How long did it take you to get here? When was the last time you ate or drank something? These questions, gave me a better understanding of their likelihood of survival. The least amount of time it took someone to walk to the camp was 5 days, the longest amount of time was 17 days.
Every patient that I treated was starving to death. There is no nice way to say it. Every single person I saw, was SEVERELY MALNOURISHED. See, escaping genocide is one dynamic, survival upon arrival is another.
Believe it or not, there is no collaboration between organizations working within the camp. I was able to build a makeshift clinic during my time there, but found it challenging to refer patients who needed additional treatment (surgery, diagnosis confirmation). There were some areas of the camp where refugees could register, find food or clothes, or basic medical care. But the camp is ALWAYS changing. Changing with new arrivals, centralizing existing communities, development of basic human needs (water wells, toilets).
With that, it is important to note, that resources are scarce.
It is difficult to follow up with a patient, when survival tops their priorities. How are they expected to come back for a follow up when they have to stand in line all day for food, which isn't guaranteed! And with the numbers continuing to increase, even as I write this, the instability continues.
It can be overwhelming to think of where to begin. For my first trip, it was at a clinic, treating 50 to 200 refugees a day (per physician). That clinic, is still operating and treating refugees on a daily basis.
My next project is providing sustainable food. My plan is to privately purchase land to farm on. We will teach the local communities about compost, companion planting and rain barrel irrigation. This will be welcomed in Bangladesh as most of their imported food is GMO. This is the third influx of rohingya into Bangladesh, and by far the world's fastest humanitarian crisis to date. Since October of 2017, local farmers markets have drastically increased food prices for many reasons. One, to incentivize the rohingya to return to Myanmar. Two, profit.
By providing farms, we are able to provide organic food to a growing population, AND provide relief to local efforts trying to make an impact. This will also reduce the need for human trafficking as a means of survival.
Deworming the rohingya at the refugee camp