I’ve kind of been avoiding this post for a few weeks now. My words fail me.
I visited the world’s largest refugee camp, a place that houses ONE MILLION refugees: the Rohingya people. They have been fleeing from Myanmar to Bangladesh for a few years because of ongoing genocide…GENOCIDE. Let that sink in for a minute.
One of the young men that walked with us (for HOURS) through the camp told us his experience. My dear friend, Carissa, recounts his story beautifully: “A kind young man was assigned to be our tour guide for the afternoon because of his ability to speak English, along with four other languages. You could say he was very smart. He told us of his previous life across the border and of the day his Buddhist neighbors ran to his house, yelling for them to leave quickly because of the military force sweeping the area, burning all Rohingya homes. He and a brother fled on foot, stumbling through thick jungle and swimming across rivers for seven days until they crossed the border and found themselves safe in a foreign country.”
His story is literally one of a million.
The Rohingya have been left with no country. They cannot return to their homes in Myanmar, for obvious reasons, but they also can’t enter into Bangladesh, or any other country for that matter. They are stuck in an actual limbo, a permanent state of uncertainty. This refugee camp is both a safe haven and a prison.
But here’s the crazy thing - We’ve all seen images or watched news reports of refugee camps across the world and they look horrific, right? I was prepared for that…as prepared as you can be. I expected to arrive into a place of complete and utter despair. The situations these people have experienced is indeed horrific and the trauma they are enduring is unimaginable but this particular camp is…well, it’s clean and organized. There are schools, medical clinics, and even jobs. There’s not enough but it’s a work in progress…and there’s PROGRESS.
So, what now? Good question. Honestly, I don’t know. I hope this sparks a holy discontent within us all. We live in an amazing, terrible, awesome world and I hope my experience helps to broaden our horizons and affect change somehow.