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  • Writer's pictureAhtaram Shin

A lonely tree sparks memories of home for Rohingya refugees

2019 @ Md Hossain

In 2019, while in Balukhali, Md Hossain spotted a lonely tree standing in the middle of the camp 25, surrounded by shelters – the last tree standing. The sight of the tree flooded him with memories of his village in Arakan , where they had many bayan trees. People of all kinds, including farmers, woodcutters, and travelers, would gather under those trees to rest during the summer. Smiling at the familiarity of his land, he realised he could share his village story through this tree, making it meaningful for his future life.


While the scene before him evoked nostalgic memories of his homeland, he couldn't help but notice the stark contrast between the vast and picturesque village he once called home and his current reality as a refugee, filled with hardship and uncertainty. Seven years had passed. It had been long enough, and they refuse to remain as refugees indefinitely.


'We have a home, Myanmar, with our own villages where we were born, and we enjoyed a life of luxury with ownership of our belongings in Arakan. We are dying to return to our homeland. We're seeking international attention to facilitate a possible repatriation as soon as possible.' —Hossain explained.

About the photographer: Md Hossain, born in 1999 in Maungdaw Township, Arakan State, Myanmar, is a Rohingya genocide survivor. His journey from Myanmar, where the Rohingya community faces severe restrictions and persecution, led him to seek refuge in Bangladesh in August 2017.



Hossain's passion for photography emerged as a response to these hardships. His work is a powerful testament to the resilience and plight of his community, offering a window into their daily lives in the refugee camps.


"I chose photography to tell the world how the Rohingyas are living in the camps in Bangladesh." —he explains.

Despite spending several years in these camps, with the hope of returning to their homeland still unfulfilled, Hossain continues to use his camera as a tool for advocacy. His photographs serve as a narrative of survival and a poignant reminder of the ongoing struggles faced by the Rohingya people.


 

This feature is part of The Rohingya Experience, an exhibition 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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