Stories

We Live in Hope

Surviving a pandemic in the world’s largest refugee camp

Ever since 57-year-old Amina* and her husband Asif, 63, fled violence in Myanmar, they have only had one wish: “I want to go back. I was born there, it’s where I have lived my whole life.” says Asif. “I am here, but my soul is still beyond those hills,” adds Amina, referring to the hills bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar.

Now settled in Kutupalong Refugee Camp, life is, even in the best of times, incredibly challenging for the couple. Asif’s health has deteriorated to the point where he is rarely able to get up and now has to spend days lying on a mat on the floor. Amina dedicates all her efforts to helping him get by.

With the arrival of COVID-19 in the camp, there is little cause for optimism: “I have heard rumours that the virus could spread across the whole camp. If it does, I don’t want to imagine how this could affect us,” shares Amina.

Asif and Amina, pictured in their shelter. © Medair
Asif and Amina, pictured in their shelter. © Medair

To help them through this particularly difficult time, Amina and Asif, as well as many other vulnerable families like them, have received support through the distribution of household items provided by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and distributed by Medair staff and volunteers. Each kit contains blankets, tarpaulins, solar lights, rope, a sleeping mat, a mosquito net, and face masks.

During the distribution volunteers talk to families about preventative measures to help contain the spread of the virus. “This information has also been useful to us, as volunteers” shares Hasan, a 23-year-old Rohingya Volunteer with Medair. “I am washing my hands multiple times a day, especially when entering my shelter. I have also taught these measures to my whole family.”

Hasan, Medair volunteer, shares information on items being given to a Rohingya family. © Medair
Hasan, Medair volunteer, shares information on items being given to a Rohingya family. © Medair

The kit of items has helped provide some relief for Amina and Asif: “The materials are not only helpful to protect us from the virus, but also to keep us safe from mosquitos. The solar light has helped us move at night, especially my husband as he is unwell and frequently needs to use the latrine. I am grateful for this help.”

While so much uncertainty surrounds their future, Amina and Asif are determined to press on: “We live in hope that we will get through this pandemic and be able to go home safely one day.”

Medair is an international humanitarian aid organisation that provides emergency relief and recovery services to families made vulnerable by natural disasters, conflicts, and other crises. Medair is currently active in 12 countries. In Bangladesh, Medair works in partnership with World Concern.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and Global Support Office staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.

*For security reasons, first names have been changed.