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  • Writer's pictureAhtaram Shin

Hope and dreams: The Rohingya artist's daughter yearning to look like a princess

Updated: Apr 9

2021 © Enayet Khan

Onaysa Khan is only 3 months old. Her name in Arabic means ‘Good Friend’, the

one who brings peace and calmness to the heart.

'She is my first beloved daughter. For me, she is a blessing of hope and dreams.' Enayet said

In the video below, explore Enayet Khan's artistic journey as he discusses his art, photography, and a cherished photo of his daughter Onaysa, while sharing his hopes and dreams for the future.

Enayet Khan, born in 1999 in Nwa Yong Thong village, Arakan, is a 24-year-old talented artist from the Rohingya community. His life and artistry are a testimony to resilience, creativity, and a deep-seated passion for shedding light on the rich cultural heritage and struggles of the Rohingya people.

His artistic journey began in earnest in class nine when he painted a portrait of his teacher, not only earning his teacher's admiration but also an award from his school for his evident talent. From that point on, his art became a force of nature.

"If I want to explain anything, the best language I can use is art," he often says.

Tragically, in August 2017, Enayet, along with his family, was compelled to flee Myanmar, settling eventually in the southern refugee camp near Teknaf. Despite the upheaval, his spirit remained unbroken. Today, he's not only a proud father of a baby girl and a husband but also an influential figure in the Rohingya community. He currently works at the Rohingya Cultural Memory Centre, sharing his skills and mentoring the next generation of artists.

Enayet's art has been featured in several exhibitions, reflecting both his artistic skills and the narrative of the Rohingya. Notable showcases include the 2021 Oxfam Rohingya Arts Campaign, the 2022 Genocide Survivors in Oslo, and 'We are Rohingya' at the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka. His work 'Rohingya lifestyle in Arakan' was awarded 2nd prize in the 2022 Remembrance Day Art Contest by the Art Garden Rohingya. In 2023, his art gained further exposure at the Dhaka Literary Festival as part of Artolution's 'Renaissance of Rohingya Culture', the Rohingya Centre of Canada’s exhibition "Picturing the Rohingya Genocide: Resistance, Resilience & Remembrance", and at the “Jasbaa: The Art of Rohingya Refugee Resistance” exhibition at the University of Waterloo in Canada. These displays underscore his commitment to using art as a tool for cultural storytelling and social commentary.

Beyond his individual achievements, what stands out is Enayet's dedication to his community. By conducting art workshops and mentorship programs like the Rohingya Art Club, he's nurturing a new generation of Rohingya artists, ensuring their stories, like his, will continue to be told.

Enayet Khan's art serves as a testament to the transformative power of creativity and the ability of art to transcend boundaries, amplify voices, and create meaningful change. With every brushstroke, he paints a picture of resilience, hope, and the enduring human spirit.

‘My favourite artist is Leonardo da Vinci. I like to think of art as a vehicle to try new things in the believe that nothing is impossible.’ - Enayet said.

Below is a selection of artworks from Enayet's portfolio. Produced between 2019 and 2024, this artworks depict traditional Rohingya livelihoods in Arakan, as well as scenes of life and the disasters refugees face in the refugee camps in Bangladesh.


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



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