In April, conflict in Chin State, western Myanmar, pushed villagers over the border into India where the Delta variant of COVID-19 was spreading rapidly. Soon after they returned, COVID-19 cases in Chin State began to spike. Due to Myanmar’s ongoing political crisis, the local public health system had little capacity to respond. Community Partners International (CPI) and local partner the Hualngo Land Development Organization (HLDO) mobilized to provide COVID-19 prevention and care to people in desperate need.
Living in crowded and cramped conditions, Rohingya refugees sheltering in Bangladesh are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. On August 10, 2021, amid a worrying spike in infections, the Government of Bangladesh launched the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccination campaign for refugees over 55 years of age in Kutupalong Refugee Camp. As the first line of health care, volunteers supported by Community Partners International (CPI) and local partner Green Hill mobilized to encourage and support eligible community members in Camps 1W and 4 to take up the vaccine.
When seven-year-old Samiyun first started to attend the Chakar Mobile School, he struggled to adapt. Growing up in Dhaka’s slums, he had never had the opportunity to enroll in formal school. Instead, while his parents were out at work, he spent his days running the streets of his neighborhood with older children. His mother, a garment worker, and his father, a day laborer, work long hours with few days off. As they struggle to put food on the table, they don't have much time to devote to Samiyun and his younger sister.
"I didn’t understand what a vaccine was. I just heard that they can leave permanent marks on the skin and cause fever." Tasmin, 24, pregnant mother of two children
Tasmin’s perception of vaccines is fairly common among her fellow Rohingya refugees in Kutupalong, Bangladesh, the world’s largest refugee camp. With limited access to accurate health information, misunderstandings and false rumors can travel rapidly within the community.
Mohammad Taher is a Rohingya Community Immunization Volunteer supported by Community Partners International (CPI) and Green Hill in the world's largest refugee camp in Bangladesh. Each day, he visits households in his neighborhood to help pregnant and women and young children get vaccinated against deadly diseases.
Noor Bahar’s family was killed during the violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State in 2017. The only survivor, she fled across the border to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where she now lives as a refugee in Kutupalong Refugee Camp. With no family members to help her, she relies on the support of community volunteers in her neighborhood. As an asthma sufferer, she has to take care of her health, especially with the threat of COVID-19.
One evening in March, Noor suffered an acute asthma attack in her shelter. A passerby saw her struggling to breathe and alerted Zainul Mostofa, a Rohingya Community Health Volunteer supported by Community Partners International (CPI).
Ayesha and Jannat are Rohingya refugees from Myanmar sheltering in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. They fled violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State in 2017 with their families, walking for many days to reach the Bangladesh border. Today, they live in Kutupalong, the world’s largest refugee camp. Both receive assistance from networks of Rohingya community health and water, sanitation and hygiene volunteers supported by Community Partners International (CPI). Here are their stories.
In Kachin State, Myanmar, nearly 100,000 people live in displacement camps. Some have been there for 10 years or more, forced to flee their homes due to the conflict that continues to rage in this restive and contested region. COVID-19 is now spreading rapidly in Myanmar and the country has one of the world’s weakest health systems. The cramped and crowded conditions in displacement camps make residents especially vulnerable.
"We have a real opportunity here to push back hepatitis B. With the right approach, we can free a generation of children in Myanmar from this debilitating and deadly virus.”
Seven years ago, Khin Aye went for a routine prenatal check-up while pregnant with her first child. The hospital staff conducted a blood test. “When the test came back, they told me I had hepatitis B.”
CPI Mask-Making Initiative Offers Income Lifeline to Myanmar Families in Need During COVID-19 Lockdown
The front room of Hla Hla Htwe’s home in Pyapon, Ayeyarwady Region, is a hive of activity. Family members are busy cutting fabric, sewing, washing, and ironing on a makeshift production line. They are making cloth face masks to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19. “On a good day, we can produce about 100 masks,” Hla Hla Htwe says. She and her family are part of a Community Partners International (CPI) initiative to help vulnerable families and communities who have lost work due to COVID-19 to generate income through mask making.
"I don’t know what I would do without this opportunity. I was afraid that no one would help me in these hard times."