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  • Writer's pictureAhtaram Shin

Microcosms of Resilience: Capturing the Unseen Biodiversity in the Rohingya Refugee Camp

Words by Ahtaram Shin. Photo-essay by Ro Anuwar Sadek

Macro photography is not just a hobby; it's a portal to the hidden worlds within the Rohingya refugee camp's environment. This bustling community harbours a sanctuary of biodiversity, often overlooked amidst the challenges of daily life. Through the detailed focus of a macro lens, the smallest inhabitants and the intricate beauty of nature come to the forefront, unveiling a story of resilience and wonder

"Macro photography is more than a passion for me; it's a gateway to reconnect with the joyful memories of my childhood in Arakan's kitchen gardens," Anuwar reflects. His early fascination with nature began in the lush gardens he explored with his grandfather, where curiosity and wonder grew as freely as the plants. "Asking my grandfather about the names and stories of insects and plants sparked a lifelong curiosity," he recalls, emphasizing the roots of his photographic journey.

For Anuwar, the act of capturing images in the camp serves as a personal retreat, offering moments of joy and solace amidst the confines of refugee life. "In a place where access to mental health support is limited, macro photography provides a much-needed escape, grounding me in the beauty of the natural world," he shares.

Anuwar's commitment to his craft is evident in the sacrifices he makes, including missing significant opportunities. "I once missed a job interview because I was engrossed in photographing an elusive insect. The challenge of capturing its beauty was irresistible," he admits, highlighting the depth of his dedication to macro photography.

As a secondary school science teacher, Anuwar leverages his photography to enhance his students' education. "Each photograph becomes a practical lesson, revealing the complex beauty of nature to my students," he explains.

Aware of the environmental challenges facing the camp, Anuwar aims to use his photography to shed light on issues of pollution and habitat degradation. "The camp faces serious environmental challenges, from trash accumulation to water pollution, which threaten both human health and biodiversity," he acknowledges.

Despite the technical challenges and the elusive nature of his tiny subjects, Anuwar's determination is inexpressible. "The difficulties of getting the perfect shot are part of the story I want to tell through my photography. It's about perseverance, both my own and that of the community around me," he concludes.

Anuwar's photo-essay serves as a powerful testament to the unseen beauty and resilience within the Rohingya refugee camp. It invites us to look beyond the surface, to discover the rich tapestry of life that flourishes against all odds, and to appreciate the enduring spirit of both the community and the natural world they inhabit.

This story is sponsored by Sahat Zia Hero from his Prince Claus Seeds Award 2023



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