We have established this page to tell you about our trip in November 2017 to volunteer as a small team of Australians, (a nurse and two teachers who may be joined by several others - young women who are experienced volunteers from Greek refugee camps) to Coxs Bazar, Southern Bangladesh.We are heading into the centre of the Rohingya crisis at the Bangladesh/Myanmar border. In the last two months, over 600 000 refugees have crossed this border!
I will be volunteering with MedGlobal, a new medical NGO started by the senior doctors who were the last ones out of Aleppo as the bombs were falling.Dr Zaher Saloul recieved an award a few nights ago at the American Red Cross Gala Ball in New York for "Heroes Amongst Us".They previously headed the Syrian American Medical Society , but wanted to start a new multi-ethnic, multi- national medical NGO.They are fundraising to build a field hospital.At the moment, we will still be traipsing the mud with backpacks, and working under a somewhat temporary shelter for a clinic.They are seeing 260 patients a day. Polio, AIDS, and other cases have been found, and they are expecting a cholera outbreak.And a million refugees by Christmas! Sometimes, 10 000 arrive in a single day.
UNHCR and UNICEF are endeavouring to supply food and wells...other smaller NGOs are coming in to assist in other things.Medicine is greatly needed ..still high on the list of priorities.
Last week, it was reported 500 women had gone missing, and they disappear ... sold kidnapped or raped..so we are starting a pilot project supplying 1000 rape alarms for young vulnerable women..some of whom have already been raped by the Myanmar Army.
Someone also counted one thousand children alone..their parents probably murdered, and most Rohingya children have recieved little education. So as teachers we hope to help support a learning centre...temporary at first.We are most likely going to join with the Moonlight Society, a Bangladeshi NGO whose focus is health care, nutrition and safety.
So far, we have a few teaching supplies, and $750 for soccer balls, kindly donated again by Mac Millar, a wonderful young local boy with a soccer website .We hope to deliver safety and hygiene education to vulnerable women and children alone, the rape alarms with personal safety instructions, the soccer balls, and other childrens activities.
The Burma Task Force states that many Rohingya children suffer from severe malnutrition, so we are also hoping to be a scout for a nutrition team, who may follow. So we are doing a bunch of things in a small way...but hopefully creating a safe, clear corridor for others volunteers.
Contacts have been established on a previous trip to this region, among the young English speaking refugee leaders in Kutapalong Camp. It is the largest camp, and most of those young men have been there from infancy.They will be invaluable as translators, and local guides.We are grateful to Reza, a kind Canadian businessman who has created a wonderful Assistance Team to guide us in all the local details safely through the country.
I hope this gives some insight, and we hope to illuminate the journey that others may want to take after us.
Thanks for your interest!
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