Poems and Photos from the Bhalukhali Rohingya Refugee Camp, Bangladesh

By Mohammed Faisal, 19, Bhalukhali Rohingya Refugee Camp, Bangladesh.

I’m Mohammed Faisal, a young Rohingya poet, living in the world’s largest refugee camp. We, Rohingya, fled from our country Myanmar in 2017 due to the forcible displacement of our civilian population. We were brutalized by the Myanmar military, and we were taken to the Bangladesh refugee camp where we still continue to face so many difficult obstacles in order to survive. We have struggled, and have also established a massive tent village. Unfortunately, there is not enough space in our tents, and we continue to have to downsize. Our family members continue to change with all the various circumstances that are also changing. We feel suffocated, and our parents, children, aunts, and relatives all have to stay together and sleep together in a very small tent shelter. There are not any playgrounds for children to play in, and children are not able to receive the formal education that they deserve. We are all flying around like birds in a cage, and we are not comfortable at all.

On Friday, March 22, 2021, a massive fire decimated thousands of our shelters here at the Bhalukhali camp. The fire was incredibly violent and killed hundreds of people including infants. Unfortunately, the people here were not able to escape from the camp, because the government of Bangladesh has created a fence all along the camp’s border, which is why so many people were not able escape the violent fire. There are still so many people who are without shelters and homes. I have also seen people sleeping on the ground wrapped in plastic blankets. This is a short introduction to the people I love, the Rohingya, and is also an introduction to our current state of affairs. I hope the Rohingya stories will live on in your awareness.

 The Fence by Faisal Justin
  
 When the fire caught our shelters 
 some people weren’t able to come out.
  
 They burned in the fire,
 couldn’t see their way out. 
  
 Many people could not climb the fence;
 they had to stay in this cage.
  
 There is no freedom in this burning cage,
 suffocated by heat. The fire leaps. 
  
 O, my government! 
 O, dear Bangladesh! 
  
 You are the thousands, rescued and displaced. 
 You are the kind-hearted. Take down this fence, this place. 
  
 Hundreds of lives ruined by this fence--we do not understand. 
 You eliminate words. You eliminate language.
  
 No End to My Sadness by Faisal Justin
  
 Many years of my life have disappeared from view
 Life continues, full of sorrow. I remain here, in the same position 
 My eyes, full of tears, at times, even oceans 
 My body becomes thinner, day after day
  
 Don't feel well wherever I go 
 This moment only makes me ache 
 The world is not the world, in my imagination 
 The sunny day looks like a cloudy day 
 My face even looks gloomy. 
  
 I have visited several places 
 Searching for peacefulness 
 The more I wander, the more morose I feel 
 Every second reminds me of one thing-- 
 Which remains my country 
 And which I hold in my warm heart . 
 Life feels as if it is falling, full of aching, full of sadness.  

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