Learning to accept cultural changes

19 August, 2018

"By Nusrat Daud Pritha"
It was drizzling and a group of men and a few women are cutting and adding mud to pave a walkway    from one block to another. During the monsoon rains, many of the walkways in the refugee camps in Potibunia, Camp 16 either became inundated.

Omar Faruk and others are working to elevate the old walkway. He fled Myanmar along with two of his brothers and a sister-in-law nearly eleven months back. He works for the cash-for-work program under CARE interventions for camp infrastructure improvement. CARE initiated the program in Camp 16, Potibonia, Cox’s Bazar and till date over 2,000 people are getting benefitted. CARE prioritized families with one person, elderlies, widows and pregnant women to help them cover any miscellaneous needs.

Omar got involved with the cash-for-work program through word-of-mouth. He was an active businessman in Myanmar. Leading an idle life here with no work was difficult for him. So when he heard of the opportunity, he immediately took it up. Less did he know that the cash-for-work program also employs women. It was his first time working with any women together. “In Myanmar, women don’t work outside at all, they stay home and do household chores”, said Omar.

It was definitely a cultural shock for him but when he learned most of these are working as they have no one to support them, he developed a new sense of respect for them. Now, he does not mind working alongside women instead he admires their resilience. “It’s good that CARE supports many women through cash-for-work intervention. Most of them don’t have a husband or anyone to support them. It really helps them.” he added.

Omar is single now and when he gets married, he wouldn’t want his wife to work outside. Not because this is socially unacceptable in his culture, but because he does not want his wife to take any extra work load, for as long as he is alive.

Omar hopes to go back to Myanmar one day and return to his old life. “We will go back if our homes are rebuilt like they used to be before they were burned down; if we are given citizen rights as Rohingyas and as Muslims, and if we are given the freedom of movement,” he says.

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