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Munem Wasif is an international award-winning documentary photographer from Bangladesh who has been published worldwide and has exhibited in France, Iran, Japan, the Netherlands, Cambodia, London and Bangladesh.

“I have been visiting the Rohingya camps since 2008. When I stand on top of the hills now, the magnitude of the camps is unbelievable. The amount of people living in such a congested place is alarming. The proportion of Rohingyas and host communities are unbalanced, which could create a lot of other problems in the long run if we do not take proper steps.

One of few places where I felt there is still hope is the child friendly spaces, where Rohingya kids write, draw and sing in their mother tongue. They plan with each other and develop friendships. The amount of violence and trauma they have undergone is shocking. Their experiences are reflected in some interviews and drawings, but these kids need proper counseling and protection. I was amazed to see how quickly they have adapted in a new environment after losing loved ones, leaving homes, crossing the sea and jungle without any food. They have built their houses, helped each other in most difficult times. Their strength and resilience touched me. …


Sarah-Jane Saltmarsh, with contributions and photos by Kamrul Hasan

Bird’s eye view of Kutupalong camp in August 2017.

I was hiking through Teknaf Wildlife Sanctuary on August 25, 2017. Located on the banks of the Naf River, the sanctuary was one of five protected areas where the Forest Department had put into place a co-management approach to eco-tourism, and it was home to herds of wild elephants, abundant medicinal plants and forgotten caves. The entire sub-district had an estimated population of just over 250,000 people. It was right next to Cox’s Bazar, which with the world’s longest unbroken sea beach, was Bangladesh’s favourite holiday destination.

Spending the better part of that week there, we were some of the first people who saw the usually calm sea alive with the reflections of a burning coastline. No one knew what was happening.

Then they started coming.

A new group of people arriving at Shah Porir Dwip. Fires are still visible on the other side of the river.

Slowly at first. Then hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of tiny tired feet. Wide eyes staring upwards out of boats in confusion, fear, desperation. Some had mothers, others just blindly followed the person in front. Almost none had fathers. The new arrivals had lost their houses, businesses, land, friends and each other. At the height of the crisis, up to 10,000 people were crossing the border daily. A border made up on both sides of forest, beach and rice-paddies. …


Kumari Joyonti Mohonto and her mother

Our Graduation approach has proven that it’s possible to bring about an end to the worst forms of human poverty. For 24 months, participants receive productive assets through grants or interest-free loans, training on life skills and financial management.

75,658 households have graduated out of ultra poverty in Bangladesh in 2017, guiding the way for the 20 million people who still survive on less than USD 0.70 a day.

Poverty has been identified as the second most common reason for children leaving schools in Bangladesh. One of our graduation criteria is that the children of the household attend school. …


Changing the story about people living with a disability

Monoara lost her leg in a train accident almost a decade ago. She remembers the incident as clearly as the sky that morning in February. She was rushing to work when it happened. The accident altered the direction of her life, violently, in just a few seconds.

Today, at the age of 47, Monoara is going strong. She wakes up every morning at the crack of dawn for her trip to one of the busiest wholesale fish markets in Dhaka. She typically purchases about 20 kg of dried fish there, and then hauls it on a rented rickshaw to her shop, where she sells it along with assorted groceries.


Stories of women who graduate from the worst forms of poverty into sustainable livelihoods.

October 20: Meet Agnes from Kenya

Photo Credit: BRAC/Upoma Mahbub

Agnes Kalimi Munywoki lives with her husband, Daniel, and their seven children in a remote village in Kitui, Kenya. Their modest home barely fits the family of nine. They leave their belongings outside to take advantage of every inch.

Agnes has a temporary job as a cook in local restaurants and Daniel works as a day laborer, digging holes for latrines and fencing yards. With the ongoing drought in Kenya, both of them have not found as many day jobs.

Without a steady source of income, Agnes and her family live in extremely poor conditions. On a good day, they eat corn and beans for lunch and drink tea for dinner. Because of the drought, Agnes recently had to borrow from a local lender to pay for her children’s school fees. …


Darkness comes early in the makeshift shelters built by people from Rakhine State of Myanmar. BRAC is distributing solar lamps so life can continue after the sun goes down.

“Our friends come over after dinner again now. Lights are helping us get some sort of normalcy back.”

Tahera is eight months pregnant. She and her husband, Salam, got married two years ago. They conceived last year, but their unborn child died before birth.

Tahera and Salam crossed the border with Tahera’s mother, Salam’s brother, his wife, and their four children. They were all guided by their friend Rahmat, who is originally from their village in Myanmar, but left eight years ago and has been living in the registered camps in Bangladesh ever since.

“It was a brutally long, hard and dangerous journey across the border. It took us eight days. …


The Government of Bangladesh has opened its doors to close to half a million people from the Rakhine state of Myanmar in the last four weeks. Now comes the difficult part — managing the crisis inside Bangladesh.

People begin the long walk off the boats from Myanmar into the shelters in Bangladesh

When a humanitarian crisis of this scale hits, it can be easy to overlook the local players — especially as large, international aid groups step in to respond.

But on the border of Bangladesh and Myanmar, where UNHCR estimates state that 501,000 people, a population larger than the city of New Orleans, are seeking shelter, a Bangladeshi organisation is playing a seismic role.

BRAC is not a typical NGO. Based in Bangladesh, it has an annual expenditure of more than $1.1 billion, with the majority self-financed from its enterprises. …


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Bookmark this story for continued updates on BRAC’s emergency response efforts.

September 28 Update:

BRAC is scaling up its humanitarian assistance activities every day, focusing on maternal and child health, water, sanitation and hygiene and keeping children safe.

Please visit response.brac.net to donate and follow our work. This story has been archived.

A boy from the Rakhine State of Myanmar plays inside one of BRAC’s child friendly spaces in Cox’s Bazar.

September 27 Update:

Nearly half a million people have now arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, from Myanmar since August 25. Of these, more than 1,500 children are separated from their parents or arrived unaccompanied.

According to UN estimates and BRAC field staff:

  • Most families face sever food shortages;
  • Housing and temporary shelter materials are in short supply;
  • Communities face inadequate or a complete lack of primary health care services, including maternal, neonatal, and child health…


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“We have lost it all. Our elders say that they have never seen this kind of damage in their lifetime, and neither have I,” says Phool, a Bangladeshi farmer.

Not all human disasters garner media attention. Unknown to many in the international community, in late March a flash flood unexpectedly hit northeastern Bangladesh, destroying 500,000 acres of crops that farmers were about to harvest. Now, five million people have no food, no livelihood, and no resources until next year. Twelve months of grit washed away in a moment.

Flash floods are a yearly phenomenon, but the water came three weeks early this year. …


A handful of coding clubs in Temeke district of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania are providing young girls a whole new window of opportunity and interest that they did not have a chance to explore before. Coding develops computational thinking. It transforms the way problems are solved and decisions are made while working in a team.

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19-year-old Aisha from Temeke, Dar es salaam.

Aisha wants to be a fashion designer. Dressed in a bright orange, breezy dress with her hair neatly tied back, she shows off the three badges pinned to her dress with pride. ‘Girls + Code = Future’, reads the small, green badge.

The teacher begins the session with an ice-breaker, asking the girls why they joined the code club. Aisha explains that she wants to learn how to send e-mails and messages online. You can see the excitement in her eyes as she waits for the lesson to begin. …

About

BRAC

World’s largest non-profit organisation, dedicated to empowering people living in poverty around the world.

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