30 January, 2018
Story of one Senoara and a CARE Health Center
By Hillol Sobhan, Communications and PR Coordinator, CARE Bangladesh
I met one melancholic Senoara at the CARE-run health centre in Balukhali makeshift camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. She’s 6-month pregnant with her first child. But her face strikingly lacked any sign of happiness. She looked quite stiff and somber. I really wanted to know what happened to her. So I asked.
Senoara, her husband, mother and sisters, all had to flee from Myanmar. I asked her if she could tell me when they left. She struggled a bit, couldn’t give any date. She only mentioned, “It was after the Eid-Ul-Azha”. I had to calculate and figure out that it was sometime in September.
“Do you remember your last day there?”, my next question.
“It was very early in the morning” recalls Senoara, “and we had to run for our lives. The entire village was on fire. Armed men were constantly firing. They kicked open the doors of some houses. My parents’ house was not spared. The also took my father away. We still don’t know if he’s alive or gone!”
It took Senoara and her family fifteen days to reach Bangladesh. They had to walk and walk and walk through the hills and the jungles. That too only at night to avoid being caught.
I was shocked….and silent. Also the quasi-mechanical description of the incident made the whole atmosphere quite unnatural. By now, I somewhat realized perhaps she was still traumatized and trying to cope with her father’s disappearance.
To make her feel a little better I decided to change the topic and asked something entirely different that would momentarily drift her away from her ordeal.
“Have you been to this health center before?”
“No for the first time. My mother heard about this center from others. They said this center is good. They checked my blood pressure, asked me different questions. Then they gave me some medicines. I was told to come again after 15 days. They also advised not to climb the hills [the camp area is hilly].”, she shared.
I asked her about the medical facility in Myanmar where she lived. She told me there was no hospital in her village; only a pharmaScy with a village doctor. The nearest hospital was four hours away that needed a combination of walking and boat ride.
“But here in this camp it’s quite different. It’s [health center] not far. People [at the Center] are nice. Plus it’s free!”, she added.
In order to serve people like Senoara, CARE has already set up four health centres in different refugee camps. The Centers offer services related to pregnancy care, family planning, child health, general consultation, Gender Based Violence (GBV) counselling services, free medicine and contraceptives, referral services with ambulance support. Some of these centers also serve as immunization centers. By now, CARE has offered services to nearly 20,000 people through these Centers.
CARE is thankful to Bangladesh Government, SAFPAC, Glaxo SmithKline and FDSR for collaboration and funding.