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Arshia’s story: "A plastic container kept me afloat"

Arshia’s story: "A plastic container kept me afloat"
Story2 August 2019Tony Cuddihy

In Bangladesh, Concern is working closely with the Rohingya people within the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.

Mum-of-two Arshia is one of more than one million who have crossed the border from neighbouring Myanmar since August 2017, and knows first-hand the impact our team of nutrition experts can have when it comes to improving quality of life.

Seven months pregnant when she was forced to leave her village and journey by foot for almost two days, Arshia spent an entire month on the banks of a river without regular access to food before swimming over to Bangladesh.

“I was pregnant at the time. I had a plastic water container to keep me afloat,” she says.

When our outreach team visited the family’s two-room shelter in Cox’s Bazar, Arshia’s daughter Aklima – by now seven-months-old – was severely malnourished.

Arshia holds baby Aklima in Cox's Bazar. Photo: Darren Vaughan / Concern Worldwide.

“The family were very worried about Aklima,” says 30-year-old Arshia.

“She was very ill and was taken to hospital. She had a severe fever and wasn’t able to eat at the time. I was concerned for her health.”

Improved health

Arshia and her family now receive rations of 30 kilos of rice, 15 kilos of lentils and 3 litres of oil and little Aklima’s health is improving. Having only weighed seven and a half pounds, she is now gaining weight and is well on the road to recovery.

Despite the fact that things are getting better for Arshia’s family, she still hopes to one day return home to Myanmar.

“If things change, I will return. Life is better here in the camp, but I worry about my children. We are tense about our future in Bangladesh.”


Concern’s role in Bangladesh

Bangladesh has seen a reduction in poverty levels over the past few decades, but remains a developing country where the threat of both natural disasters and food shortages is never far away.

As part of our emergency response to the Rohingya crisis, we are delivering life-saving nutrition services to young children under the age of five.

Concern volunteers - comprised largely of people from the Rohingya community - conduct house-to-house visits over difficult geographical terrain in eight camps in Cox's Bazar to screen children for malnourishment.

Arshia and baby Aklima
Baby Aklima is doing so much better now. Photo: Darren Vaughan / Concern Worldwide.

The cure rate for treatment of children under the age of five with severe malnutrition at Concern's Outpatient Therapeutic Programmes (OTPs) is 97% on average.

We also undertake essential disaster risk mitigation measures, helping to reduce the damage that can be caused during monsoon season.

In 2018, this included the reinforcement and structural upgrade of six OTP centres and the relocation of one OTP centre to ensure all sites were cyclone-resistant and to alleviate flooding and landslide risks in the camps.

Help to support Concern’s work with the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar by clicking the button below.

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