A Day in the Life of a Rohingya Survivor
Sakina [names have been changed], 30, lives in Cox’s Bazar with her 7 year old daughter Dolana. In August 2017, Sakina’s husband, her three young sons, and her mother were all killed in Myanmar.
This is a day in the life of Sakina, in her own words.
Every day at 9am, I wake up, and wash myself and my little daughter, Dolana. I wake up late, because it takes me a lot of time to go to sleep at night. We have breakfast together – usually rice and chillies. Dolana doesn’t like it, but we can’t afford much else.
After breakfast, I take some medication for my injuries. I was raped and burned during the violence in Myanmar. My scars have still not healed.
Our hut is very small, but it’s enough for the two of us. It has one room for sleeping and I use the other side for cooking. My little girl is growing up fast, so soon I’ll need to think about arranging a separate room for her.
After breakfast, I clean the floor and the kitchen, and then prepare some things to cook later on. Dolana usually helps me – she’s a very kind and helpful little girl. She goes to school in the camp twice a week.
Later on, I go to the nearest market and buy a few fresh foods, like green vegetables and fish. I usually take Dolana with me, but it’s very difficult – she always wants to buy many things we cannot afford. I don’t have the money to buy her any snacks, or new clothes, or any other essentials. She doesn’t blame me for that. But she often asks for extra things to eat. I promise her that we will buy more tomorrow – but deep inside I know I can’t keep this promise. It makes me very sad.
I’d like to be able to go to the market alone, but I worry that it’s dangerous to leave her in our shelter on her own. Like me, she was hurt in Myanmar, and her health isn’t good. At least here, we’ve been able to access medical treatment. But I’m worried about her future.
It’s very hot outside, so at lunchtime we usually stay inside our little hut. Dolana helps me to do my hair, and then we busy ourselves with cooking. We gossip and laugh together as we wash rice, fetch water, and clean the vegetables and fish we bought from the market. On other days, we might go to a relief distribution centre to collect more rice. The two of us alone often struggle to carry the heavy bag back with us.
While the food is cooking, I help Dolana to take a bath, and after she’s done that I take mine. This hurts me, as my scars haven’t healed. It feels painful when I wipe my body.
The afternoon is the best time for both of us; it’s our time to have fun together. After lunch, we might lie down on our bed for a bit of rest, or visit our neighbours. Or we might go to the women-friendly space [a place for women and girls only, run by Penny Appeal and ActionAid, where women can access counselling and medical referrals, and socialize together]. I received a dignity kit [with sanitary products and fresh underwear] there. We don’t have any relatives here, so I sometimes feel quite alone. I worry that other people are judging me because of the scars all over my body.
When it gets dark, I’ll I take my daughter back to our home and light it up a little using the solar light we’ve received. Before bedtime, we eat some rice and vegetables. Dolana hates eating the same food all the time. She loves milk, and she keeps asking for it in the evening – but it’s impossible.
The nights are long and tough. We both tend to get upset in the evening. We sit on our floor and I cuddle her, and we cry together. I feel so sorry for my little girl.
Later, as I try to sleep, my mind recalls the faces of my three innocent sons, my husband, and my mother. I miss them so much. I’ve spent many nights crying. I can’t help it.
Without any relatives, I feel very lonely and afraid here – especially at night. It always seems to me that the night will never end.
There’s one thing left in my life that makes me happy, and that’s my daughter. At least, one of my children is still alive, and I am also alive. At least now we are living without the fear of being killed. But I fear for the future.
You can help provide a lifeline to people like Sakina, who show incredible resilience, but who have been through far more than any of us should have to bear.
Support a Women Friendly Space for just £20 a month, and make sure that women like Sakina have somewhere to go to heal, make friends and get access to the care they need.
And tonight, as you go to bed, please pray for Sakina and Dolana. It’s the most difficult time of the day for this strong woman and her sweet girl.
SATURDAY 1 DEC 2018