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  • Writer's pictureAhtaram Shin

Devoted son, daunting terrain: A Rohingya man's courageous care for his mother

Updated: Apr 29

2022 © Mayyu Khan

A Rohingya man carries his elderly mother up steep, rugged terrain to reach the nearest hospital in their overcrowded camp. The camps are not designed with accessibility in mind, making it extremely difficult for the disabled and elderly to navigate the hilly paths and countless stairs.

‘When I asked, he replied with a smile that he is very happy and proud to serve his mother.’ – Mayyu Khan said.

Watch the video below to hear Mayyu Khan discussing his photograph.

Mayyu Khan was born in 2002 in Anuk Pyin of Rathedaung, a coastal own in Arakan. His parents have been refugees twice and their citizenship was illegally taken away from them in 1982. He has been practicing photography and filmmaking with a small mobile since 2015. He likes to take nature and street photographs the most. He explained that practising photography contributes to his mental development.

'I think my pictures are part of our history towards a brighter future. Photography can helps us tell the real situation of our minds and society, to deal with chaos and discover ourselves; a testimony of our life for the future.’ — Mayyu explains.

In addition to his work in photography, Mayyu Khan has diversified his creative pursuits to include illustration, painting, writing, and historical research. In 2020, his artistic talents were recognised when he was selected as a winner of Oxfam's "Realities; Rohingya Futures" art competition.

That same year, he collaborated with Rohingya writer and storyteller Mohammed Rezuwan to illustrate and publish collection of traditional Rohingya Folktales. Building on this, a couple of years later he illustrated the book 'Will Justice Ever Prevail for the Ousted Rohingya?: Deen Visits Dunya,' a true story that he published as an educational resource for middle-school teachers of English, history, and social sciences.

Through his diverse creative output spanning photography, illustration, writing, and research, Mayyu Khan has made significant contributions to preserving and sharing Rohingya cultural heritage. One example of his devotion to this cause was his conceptual design of a Rohingya muffler that included several motifs based on Rohingya history, culture and geography. Below you can see some of this paintings and illustrations.

Kawalong was the site of a royal Rohingya residential area in Mrohaung. 2022 © Mayyu Khan

‘I try to highlight the beauty of our humanity and suffering. I use the pen, the brush and the camera as tools to explain my sharp feelings. From my arrival in Bangladesh, my dream is to end this refugee life. I want to be responsible for my people and help everyone who is missing the happiness in this beautiful world. I want to work hard to show the beauty of this world to all refugees. No more refugee life!’ —he said.

Mayyu Khan's creative abilities extend beyond just writing and visual arts - he has also developed a passion for music. He has recently taught himself to play the mandolin and guitar, and can now perform a diverse repertoire of over 20 different traditional Rohingya songs.


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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