Giving Rohingya children a reason to smile

By Dr. Maryam M.A.M

I have been working with the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s for over a year through #MedGlobal missions. During that time I have had the opportunity to work with veteran medical volunteers from around the world who have extensive experience working with refugees in different parts of the world. A statement made by one such experienced volunteer really stuck with me. He said, and I quote, “I have worked with refugee children in many parts of the world but I have never seen children like the Rohingya children.” When I asked him why he said: “the Rohingya children don’t smile.”

This would not be the last time I would hear this statement. A pediatrician from Canada once asked “Maryam, how do I get the children to loosen up and smile? It’s easy to get the kids back home to smile, but the Rohingya children don’t respond to anything.” My answer to her questions was “say Asalaamu Alaikum. Call them ‘Fu-to.’ Ask them ‘ken-aso?’” Fu-too is the #Rohingya way of calling a child “honey,” “dear” or “baby.” The next day she reported that the children were a little more relaxed if not smiling.

A Paediatrician from the USA used to like asking children what they wanted to be when they grow up. He said, “this is the first time I have met children who don’t have a career they aspired to.”

The Rohingya children have been through a lot. They have witnessed the persecution of their families, they have lost their homes, and some have lost their parents, and many have been forced to grow up before their time. They have been displaced from their country and forced to another. But it’s not just the children who witnessed a lot – their parents and caregivers have been traumatized as well.

So my question to you is, how do children heal from trauma when their caregivers don’t know how to process their own traumatic experiences?

We want to be a constant for Rohingya children and their families. We want to be there for them when they need us to provide the medical services they need. Please donate to MedGlobal to keep our medical missions available to Rohingya refugees in #Bangladesh.