For Rohingya living in the camps of Bangladesh, life consists of hand outs. Restricted to their camps, their rights as refugees are not recognised. They are prevented from receiving education much beyond primary level, and also from employment in the formal sector.
The distress of fleeing their home country in the circumstances they did is exacerbated by the conditions Rohingya face in Bangladesh. Hopes of rehabilitation and attempts to rebuild their lives are therefore severely constrained.
Starting with one small group, the survivors of the Tula Toli massacre, we are exploring ways to support this community in putting itself back together, by helping meet its needs for health, education and well being.
We are keen to support initiatives that may lead to their own self-sufficiency and attract investment to help develop skills. In doing so, we aim to feed into discussion regarding what a sustainable solution for refugees could look like.
We want to project a vision where Rohingya refugees are not kept dependent on aid and are able to lead meaningful lives, engaged and integrated in to the local economy and working alongside local Bangladeshi people.
Some projects that we have in the pipeline are: the building of a sewing network, providing machines to women in their homes and helping the Rohingya to train each other; the distribution of 'shoes that grow'; the establishing of a network of teachers for the home schooling of children who can't attend school, including an emphasis on ensuring girls get access to education; assistance for budding entrepreneurs in starting their own community based enterprises; a language and skills apprenticeship program.
#HANDS4Rohingya is a project of the UK registered charity HANDS International. The project is being coordinated by UK based activist Jamila Hanan and is overseen by Samad Billoo, founder and trustee of HANDS International, both of whom work as volunteers on this cause.
Our aid work for the Rohingya started on a small scale, as personal attempts to meet urgent calls for help, passed our way by journalists and others. When documentary maker Shafiur Rahman began to work closely with victims of the Tula Toli massacre, there were requests for assistance from the survivors. The #HANDS4ROHINGYA project was born out of this tragedy. We have seen this community rekindle hope that we would never have imagined possible after what they have endured. This project is inspired by the hope of survivors.
Working with a close knit and trusted team, our network is made up of both Rohingya and Bangladeshi locals, living in or around the refugee camps in Bangladesh. Funds are currently raised on a case by case basis through crowdfunding. Everything achieved so far has been made possible through the support of many ordinary people around the world with their encouragement, donations and ideas. We are excited about what we might help the Rohingya achieve together. We hope you might feel inspired to lend your support too and become a part of this growing project to help bring a far better future for the Rohingya.