Priyanka Chopra shares stories of Rohingya refugees through social media posts | bollywood | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Aug 16, 2018-Thursday
-°C
New Delhi
  • Humidity
    -
  • Wind
    -

Priyanka Chopra shares stories of Rohingya refugees through social media posts

Priyanka Chopra shared the harrowing stories of young girls and babies who had to suffer through death and rape before they made their way to the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

bollywood Updated: May 24, 2018 20:07 IST
Press Trust of India
Priyanka Chopra,Priyanka Chopra Bangladesh,Rohingya Refugees
Priyanka Chopra with an 8-month old baby in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh.(Instagram)

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra, who is on a field visit here, has shared her on-ground experiences from the Rohingya refugees shelters - from stumbling upon “calmness” in the conflict-stricken zone to urging global community to come to their aid.

The 35-year-old actor took to Instagram to document her visit - day-by-day - through posts, pictures and videos at various camps.

“As I walk into the Women Friendly Space at the Jamtoli Camp, I am instantly struck by a certain calmness. These camps are loud & crowded, actually overcrowded, and so to find a quiet oasis, in this case a small hut with a tarp roof and thatched bamboo walls, is surprising.

This is little Shohida (8 months old), who stole my heart with her infectious smile. It’s a poignant reminder of the dichotomy of life...here she was getting all the help she needed, when just a few months before, her mother, Alada (who was only 19 years old at the time) walked for 15 days, while 6 months pregnant with her ,to get across the border. It shows us that there is hope left in this world. When you’re dealing with a mass exodus of thousands of people, who have been displaced from their homes and are desperate for refuge, the need for proper health and nutrition takes center stage...especially for women and children. On the various Unicef Field Visits I have taken, I am always surprised by the simple yet effective solutions that @unicef and their partners develop to deal with the most dire and pressing situations and issues. This is something I experienced again today during my visit to the Nutrition Centre at the Jamtoli camp in Cox’s Bazar. More than 60,000 babies have been born in the camps over the past 8 months, so this center is an essential resource for new mothers to learn about proper feeding and nutrition. It all begins with the MUAC, a process where the child’s middle upper arm is measured to ascertain their nutrition level. From there, aids create a program for the child and a nutrient rich, ready-to-eat peanut paste is portioned out for each child based on the severity of malnutrition. At the Center mother’s are also taught basic hygiene and good health practices when they are in their homes. The world needs to care. We need to care. Please lend your support at www.supportunicef.org #childrenuprooted @unicef @unicefbangladesh

A post shared by Priyanka Chopra (@priyankachopra) on

“But for the girls in this camp, this is what they call their ‘house of peace’. It’s a place they can come and just be. A place to interact with friends, seek counselling, learn about hygiene, or learn life skills like art and music,” Chopra wrote alongside a photograph in which she can be seen having a ‘tea party’ with a refugee girl.

The Quantico star added there are approximately 50 Women Friendly Spaces in the camps, which give shelter to 50-70 Rohingya girls on a daily basis.

As I walk into the Women Friendly Space at the Jamtoli Camp, I am instantly struck by a certain calmness. These camps are loud & crowded, actually overcrowded, and so to find a quiet oasis, in this case a small hut with a tarp roof and thatched bamboo walls, is surprising. But for the girls in this camp, this is what they call their "house of peace." It’s a place they can come and just be. A place to interact with friends, seek counselling, learn about hygiene, or learn life skills like art and music. There are approx 50 Women Friendly Spaces in the camps, just like this one, that on any given day see 50-70 Rohingya girls seeking these safe havens. The centers open at 9am, but there is seldom a day when the women aren’t lined up early, waiting for the doors to open. It is here that I met three 18 year old young women, in particular, who’s stories really shook me - their names have been omitted to protect their identities. They recounted lives of pain and suffering so horrifying...it’s difficult to fathom. One scarred with memories of houses in her village being burned - she and her parents traveled for two days to get here, passing hundreds of decapitated and dismembered bodies along the way. Another shared stories of young girls being pulled from their homes to be raped and tortured. They even tried to kill her and cut her with a knife, but she fought back. How did you manage to be so brave, I asked her...she replied, "If you’re born you will die, so I’m not scared of dying today." In what world is it normal for an 18 year old girl to have this perspective on life?! The third young woman traveled for nearly two weeks on foot through the forest, where her youngest brother died along the way. There was lots of rape and torture back home she told me, and some women’s breasts were even cut off. While their lives are safer now, they are all still struggling. They know that with an education they can get a job and create better lives for their family, like buying protein for their meals, and clean drinking water. It’s literally as basic as that. Please help however you can, no donation is too small...go to www.supportunicef.org #childrenuprooted @unicef

A post shared by Priyanka Chopra (@priyankachopra) on

She said she met three 18-year-old women whose stories “shook” her up.

“One scarred with memories of houses in her village being burned - she and her parents travelled for two days to get here, passing hundreds of decapitated and dismembered bodies along the way. Another shared stories of young girls being pulled from their homes to be raped and tortured. They even tried to kill her and cut her with a knife, but she fought back.

“How did you manage to be so brave, I asked her... She replied, ‘If you’re born you will die, so I’m not scared of dying today’. In what world is it normal for an 18-year-old girl to have this perspective on life? The third young woman travelled for nearly two weeks on foot through the forest, where her youngest brother died along the way. There was lots of rape and torture back home she told me, and some women’s breasts were even cut off.”

Chopra also shared a video cradling eight-months-old, Shohida and narrated her difficult journey to the camp.

“It’s a poignant reminder of the dichotomy of life... Here she was getting all the help she needed, when just a few months before, her mother, Alada (who was only 19-years-old at the time) walked for 15 days, while six months pregnant with her, to get across the border. It shows us that there is hope left in this world,” she wrote.

The actor again visited Nutrition Centre at the Jamtoli camp in Cox’s Bazar.

I was quite literally knocked off my feet...a spontaneous, unfiltered moment with these amazing kids, who I spent a couple of hours with laughing and learning. It was as if for those few hours we all forgot where we were, and let ourselves be kids again (me included). One of the last stops on my field visit was at a @unicef Learning Center in the Balukhali Camp. Here, children are given a basic education of math, English, and Burmese through a colorful and engaging curriculum of song, drama, role playing. The age of the children in this classroom ranges between 7-10 years old, and for many of these kids this is their first school experience. There are over 400,000 children at these camps, but currently only 1/3 have access to education because of the lack of space and teachers. Given everything these kids have been through, their was no shortage of excitement or hope when I asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grow up. Whether it be a journalist, doctor, school teacher, or in the military, receiving an education means they’re getting a chance to create the future they aspire for themselves. The children are also taught basic hygiene, which is very important in a camp such as this, because of wide spread diseases like cholera and watery diarrhoea. Basics, like how to properly wash your hands, has actually helped to significantly reduce illnesses, and what’s amazing is that these kids go home and teach their parents and siblings the good health practices they’ve learned. Its initiatives like this that are setting these kids up for a brighter future. As I sit amongst them, singing along, the lyrics have more meaning than ever... "deep in my heart, I still believe, we shall overcome one day! ." I know they will. For those who’ve asked how they can contribute, here’s the answer... help every child get an education by logging on to www.supportunicef.org #childrenuprooted @unicef @unicefbangladesh

A post shared by Priyanka Chopra (@priyankachopra) on

“More than 60,000 babies have been born in the camps over the past eight months, so this centre is an essential resource for new mothers to learn about proper feeding and nutrition,” she said.

“While their lives are safer now, they are all still struggling. They know that with an education they can get a job and create better lives for their family, like buying protein for their meals, and clean drinking water. It’s literally as basic as that,” the actor added.

Chopra urged people to send in donations and lend their support through UNICEF.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

Follow @htshowbiz for more

First Published: May 24, 2018 20:06 IST