"By Nusrat Daud Pritha"
Carefully and quite meticulously, Noor Kajol was molding a flower with play dough at one of the CARE operated Women Friendly Spaces (WFS). This is her third stop for the day. In the morning she goes to a Madrasa to study Arabic and then goes to an NGOschool in the camp. She visits the WFS almost around noon and stays here until she goes home for lunch. Visiting the WFS makes her happy where she is able to play board games such as Ludo, Carom, and experiment with small play dough sculptures.
As part of Protection and GBV, CARE operates 2 WFSs and 2 information booths in Camp 16 and three more in other camps. The WFSs provide a place for women to find refuge, socialize with other women, seek counselling, often psycho-social, as required and attend various trainings. Women and children can also play indoor games there. The direct outreach till date is over 29,000 women across the 5 WFSs. Although mainly designed for women, the WFSs are quite popular among children and young girls as well. Most of them come here with their mothers, some come on their own. They play, eat, sleep here and stay for as long as the staff stay in the WFSs, usually late afternoon.
Noor Kajol arrived in Bangladesh mid-September last year and soon it is going to be a year of their arrival. She lives in Block A in the CARE managed camp in Potibunia, Camp 16 with her big family of three younger brothers and two elder sisters. Unlike many other children, both her parents are alive. Compared to Myanmar, their Living conditions are less than ideal in the camp; shelters are small, no electricity and no light. The shelters are hot and become weak after rains. But for Noor Kajol, this is a better way to live. She is able to continue her schooling, roam around freely, play, and draw whatever she likes. Despite being just a twelve-year old, Noor Kajol is quite wise for her age. She realizes that had she stayed in Myanmar, she may not have been alive; or worse, not fulfill her dream of becoming a pharmacist. “Girls who complete 10thgrade can work in pharmacies. I also want to work in a pharmacy, or become a doctor if possible.” she tells with conviction.
Having seen the atrocities in Myanmar with her own eyes, she shared, “I want to go back in Myanmar if possible. If the United Nations comes forward and helps resolve the unrest and killings, and help us go back with proper identity and dignity, then I will go back. We want to be assured by them that they won’t assault us anymore.”
Many young girls like Noor Kajol have seen horrible things back in Myanmar. Many have lost both their parents and now live as orphans in the camps. But life in Bangladesh gives hope to Noor Kajoland she still holds onto her dream of becoming a doctor, or working in a pharmacy at least.
”When we arrived in Bangladesh, we were very scared as this was a new and unknown place, but now I feel happy thatI can study and play here with no fear.”