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  • Writer's pictureIshrat Bibi

A 10-year-old's green revolution: Nur Asma's mission to reforest the refugee camp

Updated: Apr 29

2022 © Ishrat Bibi

Nur Asma is 10 years old. She lives in the refugee camp with her family. She loves studying and being creative crafting utensils out of mud and bamboo. She is very introverted and plays silently by herself. She wants to create something new by herself and doesn’t want to copy others. She loves nature and cares for the earth. She hopes to have many trees in the camp because after the fire incidents many trees burnt down and people suffer a lot with the unbearable heat, especially in summer. She was inspired by her grandmother who also plants trees near their shelter, so she is doing the same though it seems like she is playing.


‘When I took this photo, I was amused seeing her playing like this with the trees. Can you imagine she collected all these water bottle tops to plant trees in them?’ —Ishrat said.

To learn more about Nur Asma and see her tree-planting efforts in action, be sure to watch the full video interview with photographer Ishrat below.



Ishat Bibi was born in 2001 in Boli Bazar, Myanmar. She recalls her joyful moments with her family in a home with views of the ancient Mayyu mountain and very close to the high school she attended in 2017 before she was forced to flee to Bangladesh on August 25th.


‘It was a horrible day, people were screaming and running without a destination but to find a safe place.’ —she explained.

Despite the suffering crossing the jungle and the Naf river she managed to document with her mobile phone the exodus until she reached safety in Bangladesh. She has been living in the refugee camp with her family ever since.


‘I miss everything, the sounds of sparrows at sunrise over Mayyu mountain, the morning frost around the football field in front of my home, playing with my friends after school at the ancient swimming pool.’ —Ishrat recalls.

 

To stay connected with her dreams helping her community she taught Burmese and English to over 100 Rohingya students. She also worked as a Burmese language teacher’s training volunteer at a BRAC learning facility for two years. She uses photography to document the life of her community in the refugee camp and shares their stories in social media. She is a regular contributor of the Art Garden Rohingya, a platform showcasing the work of young Rohingya poets and artists. Her photography work won her a prize at the Oxfam Art Campaign in 2021. In 2022 her writing and photos were published in The Guardian. In 2023, she curated the photo-book 'Unseen Courage', published by Rohingyatographer, it is the first monograph with artwork by 10 female Rohingya photographers.

 

‘Sadly my father passed away in 2021, yet I’m on my way to make his dream come true and graduate from university to become a health professional to serve those in need in my community and follow the path of becoming a Rohingya female writer one day. I believe my hopes will take me as far I want to go.’ —Ishrat wishfully explained. 



 

This feature is part of The Rohingya Experience, an exhibition set in St Helier, Island of Jersey during July 2024, developed by Rohingyatographer, a collective of Rohingya refugee photographers in partnership with Jersey Overseas Aid.

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