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  • Writer's pictureAhtaram Shin

Threads of hope: A Rohingya girl's embroidered journey

2022 @ Parmin Fatema
2022 © Parmin Fatema

A teenage Rohingya girl finds solace in the art of embroidery, meticulously stitching her creation within the confines of her shelter. Though displaced, she carries on a long-standing crafting tradition among Rohingya women and girls.


'I am drawn to capturing scenes like this because they hold significant stories of resilience and tradition for our women,' says Parmin Fatema.

This talented young girl, silently devoting herself to stitching a pillowcase, mesmerizes Parmin. It reminds her of the craftsmanship she saw in her elder sisters back in Myanmar. However, Parmin is surprised to see such embroidery skills at the girl's young age when she should be focusing on her studies.


Among the over 1 million Rohingya refugees sheltered in Bangladesh camps, a large proportion are women and girls. Parmin notes that each of them possesses undiscovered talents and innovative skills, yet they lack the resources to fully explore their capabilities. Her advocacy calls for platforms to nurture the artistry and self-expression of these resilient Rohingya women and girls.


'We need support from the international community to create empowering opportunities to make a difference in their lives of women and girls,' Parmin notes.

About the Photographer: Parmin Fatema, originally from Northern Rakhine State in Myanmar, now she lives in the refugee camps of Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. She served as a female team leader with the Danish Refugee Council for two years. Currently in her final year at the Asian University for Women (AUW), Parmin has been a Local Coordinator for Students for Liberty since 2020. Presently, she works as a Research Assistant at AUW’s Center for Climate Change and Environmental Health (CCCEH).


‘I’m not just confined to academics. I’m also pursuing a Google Data Analytics Professional Certificate and participating in the Aspire Leaders Program,’ she notes.


A multifaceted artist, Parmin uses her talents in writing, poetry, and photography to articulate the experiences of her community.


‘My art is a window into the lives and struggles of my people,’ she says.

Her poems frequently appear in The Art Garden Rohingya, and she competes in various platforms like Oxfam and AUW Clubs. She also interned at Myatt Academy, crafting children’s stories. In 2022, she co-authored the article in Forced Migration Review 70, ‘Knowledge, Voice, and Power,’ representing the voice of Rohingya women. Whether it’s easing her mood through artwork or engaging in creative writing, Parmin finds solace and expression in her art.


‘When I witness the realities of my community, it stirs something deep within me, compelling me to create. I aim to contribute more to my community in the future, particularly in research, education, women’s empowerment, journalism, and environmental science,’ —she explains.

 

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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