Dubai-based students spend winter break at Rohingya camp

They distributed solar lamps to residents in the villages with no access to electricity.

 While many students used their winter holidays to rest and recharge, a group of Dubai youngsters brought smiles to Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

The students are part of an environmental organisation called Green Hope, a youth-led group consisting of pupils from the UAE, Canada and other countries.

They travelled to Rohingya refugee camps in the outskirts of Cox Bazaar, spent time with children during Christmas, and distributed solar lamps to nearby villages.

Since 2017, more than 725,000 Rohingya people have fled the Rakhine state in Myanmar across the border into southern Bangladesh to flee ethnic violence, according to the United Nations.

“Our mission was to realise the UN mandate of ‘Leave No One Behind’ as we march towards a sustainable future. It was an unbelievably moving experience. Our efforts were like a drop in their ocean of misery, but we feel that we have planted some seeds of change, which will surely bring about greater inclusivity,” the founder of Green Hope, Kehkashan Basu, said.

“It’s an unbelievably moving sight which no words or pictures can describe. The world seems to have forgotten them – yet they are also humans like us and have the same right to a life of dignity. Every day, 50 children are born – many unable to survive beyond the first week. Abuse, exploitation and trafficking add to the pangs of hunger and disease at every moment. None of these children has been to school and their smiles and joyous laughter were the best Christmas gifts that we could have asked for.”

Besides bringing smiles to refugee children, the group also travelled to villages located in the Sunderbans, which are under threat from pollution and deforestation.

They distributed solar lamps to residents in the villages with no access to electricity.

“Through our workshops and community activities, which included forest clean-ups and planting over 200 mangrove saplings, we engaged residents of three villages in caring for their environment and adopting sustainable lifestyles. We also distributed solar lamps to these villages, which have no electricity. The children in these villages will now have light to study at night and some safety from wild animals when they venture out,” Basu said.

“We spent a day with marginalised rural women, who were part of a social innovation enterprise, using microfinance to establish their own small businesses – selling vegetables, tailoring and weaving. Fishing is a major source of livelihood and we spent time with the coastal communities, engaging the fishermen on sustainable fishing.”

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