Amina Kathun: You cannot live like this, being scared all the time
Amina Kathun is an 18-year-old girl who lives in a makeshift shelter in Kutupalong camp with her parents, two brothers, and a sister. Here, Amina Kathun recounts how the family fled, what life is like for her family in Bangladesh, and her hopes for the future.
It was so painful
We arrived in Kutupalong camp in August 2017. We were oppressed in Myanmar; the situation was no longer tolerable there. Deciding to leave your home, your village, your friends is the most difficult decision you could take in life. But when we heard the violence was reaching our village, we had no choice. We had to flee.
We ran up the hill and saw our village being burned down. It was so painful. So painful.
The journey from Myanmar to Bangladesh was not an easy one. We had to walk for 10 days. It was difficult for me, and even more for my little sister.
Life in the camp
When we arrived in Cox’s Bazar we had nothing. People from Bangladesh helped us; they gave us wood and bamboo to build a temporary shelter. And, even more important, they tried to comfort us during these difficult moments when the memories of our life in Myanmar were still so present and our new life here so uncertain.
I feel safe here. I can move around, I am happier, I have friends now. I know I am not alone. But the beginning was very difficult. I was feeling so sad and nervous all the time; I was always thinking about my relatives there and all the bad things that happened to them.
In Myanmar I was always scared. I had freedom to move around but I didn’t enjoy it because I was always afraid. You cannot live like that, being scared all the time.
Helping my people
I am now working as a Nutrition Volunteer for Medair. I love this job. I can go to the nutrition clinic, play with the children, and meet people. I have friends now.
I am proud to help my people, explaining to women and men the importance of hygiene and the right way to feed their babies. I promote the services available at our clinic, encouraging pregnant and lactating women and families with children under five to register at the clinic to access to the nutrition programme.
I’ve seen mothers and children getting stronger with the nutrition supplements provided by World Concern and Medair, and this makes me happy—makes me feel useful. I am also proud to be able to help my family and bring in some money.
What I miss the most about Myanmar? I miss my school. My favourite subject was English. I would love to become a teacher. Myanmar is my country, but I cannot go back because there is no peace. I cannot live in fear anymore.
In Kutupalong refugee camp in Bangladesh, World Concern and Medair work together to offer life-saving services to Rohingya refugees. Three nutrition clinics provide pregnant and lactating women and children under five with nutrition supplements. Medair works closely with nutrition volunteers. The volunteers are paid a small stipend to visit refugee families, let people know about the clinic, explain to families how to make and conserve food, and how to prevent severe malnutrition.
Photos by Medair/Tam Berger