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  • Writer's picturekwankew

Mature Beyond Her Age

I abandoned my run this morning because of a planned early start to the clinic but it turned out not to be. It has been difficult to have to wake up the doorman to open the gate for me. I could hear the loud droning fan emanating from his room while I knocked on the metal door.

Again it has been dry all day.

My first family was Shakha with her three and two year-old children; Anuwar and Enan. She has been in the camp for a year and has pretty much settled down. Her husband was shot in the leg and he was carried by various people for four days to Bangladesh. She did not wish to go back to Myanmar.

Nur was sixteen and brought in her three-year-old brother. Her parents were shot by the military and she escaped with her three sisters and her one brother. She is the oldest and is now the head of the household. In the refugee camp she would be labeled as among the vulnerable groups. However she told me that she carries her 30 Kg of rice by herself up and down the slopes for close to two hours every month. Her house is far away from the distribution center, in Block 53 while the center is in Block 1. She has no porters to help her. She looks older than 16, more like in her twenties, perhaps the burden that she has been made to carry for this past year has aged her.

I asked her since her parents are dead now, who will provide her with the dowry she would need to get married. She replied matter-of-factly that she would not marry, she has her siblings to raise now! She has grown up beyond her age.

While she talked, her three-year-old brother leaned against her, his t-shirt spotted the words: EAT, SLEEP, GAME. Then we met Muhammad a spritely boy who when asked what his journey was like to Bangladesh, he was beaming and recounted his seven-hour journey as being a fun one, walking, riding a buffalo and swimming through water. He loved the camp! His days were filled with religious education and he had to get up at three in the morning to start his day.

We finished clinic very early today and left for the town of Cox’s Bazar. We were hoping to drive to the Myanmar border but the driver obstinately refused to comply. The only Bangladeshi in our vehicle was a woman, and I have noticed that he seldom accedes to her request.

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