• kwankew

At the Obat Clinic

Four of us were dropped off at an intersection and five of us including a worker from Obat, another NGO squeezed into a Tom Tom to travel for 20 to 30 minutes to the entrance of the Kutupalong Camp. I was sitting at the edge with no safety guard to prevent my falling into the road; I felt as though every bump was attempting to expel me from the bouncing vehicle. On the tarmac road, it was not as bad until we turned into a brick/dirt road when it became more precarious.


We were then dropped off the entrance of the camp. Crossing a bamboo bridge, we walked uphill into the camp. Tarp houses held together with bamboos scattered haphazardly over the slopes. There were shops selling snacks, bananas, vegetable and fruits. The hills had been deforested to accommodate the flimsy dwellings, only dirt surfaces remained. Through the doors of some houses, one could catch a glimpse of dirt floors, women hunching over cooking fires inside smoke-filled rooms. Children in dirt-covered clothes, running, staring or following us, yelling in chorus, “How’re you, bye!”. Latrines and water pumps scattered here and there among the houses, community and learning centers.



More dirt steps carved regularly into the slope led us to the clinic on top of the tallest hill. The Obat Clinic was made of mostly bamboo, bright and airy near the entrance with 4 clinic rooms, some of which were dimly lit, a diphtheria command room, a big reception, a waiting room with plastic rocking horses for children, a meeting room ad a spacious treatment room. I was assigned to a smaller room with a table and three chairs and my translator was Faruq. Here in Obat, I was seeing more children with diarrhea, respiratory infections, it also had its shares of aches and pains.


Around Obat was a relatively new camp. In the distance more hills had been denuded with a backdrop of forest nestled in the haze. The trees there were in danger of being sacrificed. Many latrines had been strategically built awaiting more new refugees.



One of my last patients was helped in with his woman relative. He was 45 and shuffled in, bending forward, a scarf over his head and a gauze pad over his right eye. He had just arrived in the camp. He was beaten up in Myanmar 3 days ago, right eye blinded and front teeth avulsed. He had to pay two Rohingya carriers 23000 Taka to trek three days to the border where he received medical aid. Miraculously the carriers had contact with his relatives in the camp and he was able to rejoin them. Tragically he lost everyone in his immediate family, his wife and five children. He cringed when touched in obvious pain. His right eye looked cloudy and he could not see through it. He was still bleeding from his broken teeth.



AB, 20 yo woman, married at aged 12 as second wife to her husband then 32 yo whose first wife divorced him. She said he was a bad man and often beat her and their 2 sons, ages 4 and 6. They have been in camp for 2 months now.


We finished clinic late in the afternoon, children gathered at the entrance and cried in their usual chorus of “How’re you?”


We walked through the camp, men and women congregated in front of their temporary huts without much hope of a reprieve from their recent exile.

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