“I had to rely on my husband since we married, so now I am happy to earn money. Now, we are saving for my son's future and it makes me feel so pleased.” Eindray
Eindray, 28, lives in Rakhine State, Myanmar, with her husband and five-year old son. She is one of 30 women enrolled in a livelihood project implemented by Community Partners International partner Precious Lady, that teaches sewing and handicraft skills, provides them with sewing machines and raw materials, offers basic sales and marketing training, and helps them to access markets where they can sell their products.
Voices From the Pandemic: “Thirty to forty people in our village died from a lack of oxygen, including my grandmother.”
“My grandmother’s blood oxygen level dropped to 80% and she couldn’t eat or drink. At the end, she was so weak that she couldn’t breathe from the oxygen tank. Losing a family member in front of my eyes really made me understand the danger of COVID-19.”
In early October 2021, Elizabeth’s whole family came down with COVID-19 in their village in Ayeyarwady Region, Myanmar. The country was in the midst of a devastating third wave that killed many thousands of people. The health system, already shattered by political unrest, was overwhelmed.
When the COVID-19 pandemic closed Myanmar’s schools in June 2020, Htar’s nine-year-old daughter Tweltar reacted as most children would. “At the start, she was happy that she didn't need to go to school and could play at home much more than before,” Htar explains. But, as school closures lengthened from weeks into months, Tweltar changed her mind. “Gradually, she realized that her school had been closed for a long time and she wanted to start learning again."
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.