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  • Writer's picturekwankew

Back to Cox’s Bazar

This morning I rose early to run on the beach. There were people playing soccer, a few runners and many walkers but the hazy sky hid the sun.

I have planned to return to volunteer in the Rohingya refugee camps in the Monsoon months as I wanted to see for myself firsthand what it would be like for the refugees. Predictions of devastating landslides from the Monsoon rains thankfully have not happened. The rains had caused some landslides and casualties but the fearful cyclones have not occurred but the Monsoon months are not over.

Yesterday while walking on the beach of Cox’s Bazar, my former translator, Russell caught sight of me among hundreds of people thronging the beach; it was Friday, a day off for Bangladesh. That was quite amazing.

We were warned of a three-hour car ride to the clinic instead of the hour and a half some months ago, essentially because the road conditions are bad, partly due to the rain but also the heavy trucks and traffic of the relief agencies have played a toll. Congestion and bottle-necking at Ukiah become a common occurrence.

The refugees have since stopped coming across the border from Myanmar some months ago. Most refugees are quite settled in the camps. From the road, the Kutupalong, Bhalukali and Hakimpara camps seem intact but it would be good to walk into the heart of the camps to see what the conditions are really like now after some months of rain.

Today it took us a little over two hours to reach the clinic. It looks as though it is buried at the bottom of a slope. The big banner with the name of Hope Clinic is gone. Cement stairs now lead to the entrance likely built to resist the torrential rain. Many patients gathered in the waiting area.

My translator has been in the clinic for two months. My first patient was a year-old boy brought in by his father for a cough and fever. A few young ones had diarrhea. Malaria has not been rampant despite abundant puddles and paddy fields.

It was a humid morning, the generator failed and we were sweating in the heat. Around noon, the rain came and offered some relief.

Many patients continued to have aches and pain, weakness and dyspepsia. A middle-aged woman who complained of pain all over the body when asked if she were happy in the camp, stated in no uncertain terms that she was but proceeded to cry. Her tears were not over losing her house from burning, and thankfully all her family members came to camp safely; it was because her oldest son, the most important member of her family got married three months ago and moved to Kutupalong camp. To her it might as well be in Siberia, it was too far away from her. She could not believe that her family ran away from Myanmar to be together in Bangladesh only to be separated again.

A sixty-year-old man came in with his wife and grandchild in a Tom Tom. His right leg was amputated after he was shot by the military For three days, he reached the border alternatively being carried by his family and crawling. My translator carried him to a Tom Tom after he was seen.

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