Of the 742,000 Rohingya refugees who have fled brutal persecution in Myanmar, over half are children. Sadly, the number of girls and boys who have lost one or both parents exceeds 35,000. Day after day, these children open their eyes in a Bangladesh refugee camp feeling completely alone.

Sufira, a resilient 17-year-old Rohingya orphan, remembers how it felt to leave her home behind: “We cried all the way.”

Life can be lonely for Sufira, a 17-year-old orphan, who lives in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. Credit: World Renew/Lisa Nightengale

Forced to flee by mass killings, arson and sexual violence against her ethnic community, Sufira departed Myanmar with her family by her side. Yet, her mother fell ill and died shortly after they arrived in Bangladesh. Her brother soon ran away.

Most days, Sufira sits in the bamboo house where she lives, joined by her grandmother’s sister or by other women from back home. She relies on this community to keep her spirits high and a few men who fetch provisions for her with food vouchers. Thankful for their support, Sufira comments “I hope the food will continue.”

PWS&D, through Canadian Foodgrains Bank, is one of several organizations responding to need in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp. Here, most refugees are completely reliant on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. While the World Food Programme is providing rice, lentils and oil, other food is difficult to access. As a result, many people’s diets are deficient of various nutrients.

To meet the need for healthier and more diverse foods, PWS&D partners with World Renew at the Foodgrains Bank to  provide food vouchers to families in great need. These in hand, Sufira and others can feel the dignity that comes with the freedom of choice, as they make purchases of nutritious food that contribute to the local economy. In this project, the Government of Canada matches funds 4:1, enabling us to help more people like Sufira.

While Sufira continues to deal with the emotional aftermath of her flight from Myanmar and the loss of her family, the support she has received makes her life is a little easier. Unfortunately, there are many more stories like Sufira’s and the need of Rohingya refugees is immense, with no end in sight.

Please support Rohingya refugees and continue to pray for an end to the violence and human rights abuses taking place in Myanmar.

You can make a donation to PWS&D through your church, by mailing a cheque to the office, donating online or calling 1-800-619-7301 x 291. Please mark all donations “Rohingya crisis.”