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  • Writer's pictureAhtaram Shin

Exhausting footsteps: Elderly Rohingya's struggle highlights lack of refugee camp mobility

Updated: May 5

2023 © Jaitun Ara

Last December, as Jaitun Ara made her way to teach at school, she came across Md Hashim on the road returning from Kutupalong hospital. The 78-year-old man clutched a stick in one hand and carried a bag in the other. Older individuals often use umbrellas for shade in the heat, but both of Md Hashim's hands were occupied, leaving him exposed. The elderly man seemed exhausted from walking. Since there was no transportation within the camp, this 78 years old man had to walk on foot.

'Life has become so difficult since we lost our land. Our crisis is almost forgotten. I wished to die in the land of Arakan and have my funeral there, but now it is unlikely to happen,'' —the old man expressed.

She deeply sympathised with the older man and understood his struggle while he was walking back from the hospital.

'If vehicles were not restricted in the camp, and if NGOs provided support for elderly individuals to move between camps or locations in this hilly area, it would greatly benefit them. Additionally, having a helpline to transport patients from home to the hospital would be an invaluable asset.' —she remarked.

About the photographer: Jaitun Ara was born in 2006 in Taung Bazar, Rakhine state of Myanmar, She was nurtured in a family environment that prized unity and support. Her parents, Abdu Rohim, a committed educator, and Nur Jahan, a devoted homemaker, have been her pillars of support. Growing up in a bustling household with four sisters and a brother, Jaitun was never short of encouragement or companionship.

"I've completed my matriculation from a private centre. Currently, I serve as a facilitator at CPJ Brac University for the LIT program. My passion lies in guiding others through their learning journey, creating engaging environments where knowledge can flourish. Additionally, I bring valuable experience in research, allowing me to approach education with a critical eye and a thirst for discovery. Together, these skills and experiences shape my profession, driving me to empower others through education and exploration." —she explained

From her formative years, Jaitun was drawn to the subjects of education and photography. This dual interests led her to be a passionate photographer and to become a facilitator for Brac University’s Community Policing Journal (CPJ) program. Through her role, she not only educates but also actively involves and interacts with her community, working to cultivate a more cohesive and unified society.

"I find immense satisfaction in disseminating knowledge and catalysing positive change," she says.

Jaitun has a strong foundation in education, a natural talent for photography, and a deep appreciation for nature. With these valuable assets, she is well-equipped to pursue her aspirations. Jaitun envisions a future where she can combine her passion for teaching and her skill in photography to create positive impacts, both on a personal level and within her community.


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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