Woman Headed Households
It took us an hour and a half to get to Obat, riding in a van (an improvement over the bouncing Tom Tom) and walking through the Kutupalong Camp with Jasim, a volunteer. We walked passed a learning center with about twenty children reciting their ABC.
Men, women and some children were diligently digging up gnarled roots of trees which had been chopped down to accommodate the huts. Without the roots, the slopes would be even more vulnerable to erosion when the rain comes.
We immediately started to see patients with Faruq as my translator. I was given a bucket filled with hard boiled eggs, tiny Mandarin oranges, bags of groundnuts and small bottles of fruit-flavored drinks. These were to be given to the patients who looked malnourished, almost all of them received their little gifts with wonder and surprise.
A 25-year-old woman came in with four children ranging from 7 months to 7 years, so many children at such a young age. Her husband had gone missing and she had to take care of her children and now lives in the camp with them; a whole load of burden on her young shoulders. I gave her a whole bag filled with eggs, oranges, groundnuts and juice, her children flashed me their wonderful smiles but she remained stoically quiet, holding the bag and her baby and walked out.
Two patients were referred out, one was a middle-aged man coughing up blood and sent to a TB center to rule out pulmonary tuberculosis and the second one was a two and a half-year-old baby with trouble breathing, she was sent to MSF hospital.
After clinic we took the up and down winding dirt path through the camp, the last time I would be walking this way. We were joined by a group of children chorusing, “How’re you? Bye.” Words they had learned by heart through previous volunteers. Men and boys carrying heavy bags of food passed us, WFP was distributing food at the center right across from the entrance of the camp. I asked Jasim who would carry such a heavy load for household headed by women, he said they would have to pay someone to do so.
As we walked over the last bridge to the street, we heard the happy loud croaking of a frog but could not detect it in the murky water.
The setting sun was an orange glowing ball hovering in the hazy sky, looking down on the camp. We stopped at Marina Drive and had some coconut water. It had been a long day. But for the Rohingya, all their days would be long and weary, without hope of returning to a safe place in the near future that they could call home.