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  • Writer's pictureAhtaram Shin

The chicken whisperer: Nurturing life in the Rohingya refugee camp

Updated: May 3

2024 © Md Zubair

Hasana, a 47-year-old Rohingya refugee woman, has a wealth of experience and skills in poultry farming and cultivation. In Myanmar, she raised various poultry, including hens, goats, cows, ducks, and pigeons. This diverse array of animals not only provided her with a sustainable livelihood but also allowed her to support her family without relying on others. With a spacious compound at her home, she had ample space to grow and nurture her livestock. By selling the poultry and produce, she could manage her household expenses and lead a self-sufficient life in Myanmar.

'In 2024, I had the opportunity to capture Hasana's story through my lens while visiting a Bangladeshi refugee camp. As she tended to her chickens at the doorway of her shelter, I knew this photograph would illustrate the skills and challenges faced by Rohingya women in preserving their traditions.' —Zubair explained.

Zubair's photograph of Hasana serves as a poignant representation of the hardships endured by Rohingya refugees, the loss of their poultry and farming culture, and the untold stories that lie within the confines of refugee life. Compelled by her story, he took this photograph to showcase her enduring interest, skills in poultry farming and cultivation, and the practical experience she had acquired over the years.

About the author: Md Zubair, born in 2004 in Alay Than Kyaw village, southern Maungdaw, Rakhine State, Myanmar, is a young Rohingya photographer and researcher. In 2017, he and his family were forced to flee to Bangladesh due to the genocide in Myanmar, abruptly interrupting his education. Despite the immense challenges of living in a refugee camp, Zubair completed his high school education at the community-led Knowledge Garden Academy (KGA) in Balukhali refugee camp, Bangladesh.

Zubair's professional journey includes working as a team leader for NGOs like Shushilan and Oxfam. His academic pursuits continued with studies in citizen journalism through online courses offered by Arakan Express News and Burma Academy. Currently, he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Health Studies from Yesbad University, India, through an online undergraduate program, alongside his research studies.

"Photography is the reason that allows me to express the stories of our people... to change our lives." —Zubair says.

Photography and research have always been central to Zubair's interests. Through his lens, Zubair captures the harsh realities faced by the Rohingya in the refugee camps, seeking to convey their suffering and resilience to a broader audience.

Zubair's commitment extends to writing, where he channels his voice to articulate the experiences of the Rohingya people in Bangladesh. His work has been recognised and published on various websites and exhibited in multiple locations, showcasing his dedication to bringing the Rohingya narrative to the forefront.


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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