Definition of “Fellow Human Being”

12 October 2017

Story and Photos by: Hathairat Phaholtap, Thai PBS reporter


“They took out a piece of tissue for you to wipe off tears,” a photographer said while tapping my back to let me know the hospitality of the Rohinya.


While I was hiding in the corner crying after having seen an emotional picture on my way to Casa Cox's Bazar Hospital in Bangladesh to report the critical situation of Rohinya refugees escaping from  Rakhine State, Myanmar after the violence in the area.


Inside the hospital were 300 Royhinya patients waiting to receive treatments, most of them have been injured by the violence in the area.


Therefore, the hospital needed to provide a special area for the patients, but with limited space, it could not hold all of them. So, I saw patients using the hallway as patient beds.


That day, we interviewed 2 injured who were receiving treatments at that hospital.


One of them is a woman in her 50’s. She broke her arm for running away from the people who burned her house and hurt her.


“I strayed from my 2 sons as I was rushing to escape the village with my daughter and neighbors, but I believe that they are still alive,” the Rohinya woman said with hope.


Her condition improved a lot, but she still needed to stay in hospital. The doctor said if she lived in the refugee camp with this condition, she could be infected. Therefore, she and her daughter needed to use patient beds as temporary accommodation.


The other one is a 5-year-old girl. She was wounded from the fire which spread almost all of her body, especially both legs where the wounds are clearly visible.


Her left leg was broken, and she had to use the medical equipment looking like a fishbone to help connect her fractured bone.


I was trying to ask of her symptom via an interpreter. But she was not used to strangers, so she did not answer my questions. I saw her busy tying up the rope to make her own


Her father said that everyone was escaping the fire but unfortunately she jumped off the window and broke her arm. The other family members did not get injured.


“That day, I had to carry my daughter to escape. We got on a fisherman boat and sailed across Bay of Bengal from Maungdaw Township to Cox's Bazar, My daughter was so strong because we’d spent more than 2 days to get to the hospital. She didn’t cry. Now her condition has improved a lot,” her father told us about her condition.


Before saying farewell, I asked to look at the wound on her left leg again. After that, I gave the Rohinya the items donated by a shop in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. They said thank you many times and wore the shirt I gave them to take a picture.


In that moment, I could not describe my feelings and why “my tears rolled down”.


I hurried out of the room and hid in the corner of the building so that no one saw my tears. I was trying to control my emotion and go back to normal as soon as I could.


But I was caught by my team members, photographers and interpreter who noticed my strange reaction, so they came up and asked as well as bringing a piece of tissue received from a Rohinya to me to wipe off my tears.


I let myself cry until I felt better which lasted more than 10 minutes, and then I rejoined my team and continued working.


At that time, no one asked me because over the past 6-7 days my team and I reported the difficult situation inside the refugee camp. What I experienced inside the hospital and the pain of in my “humane correspondent self” could not be described in words.


Seeing people begging me for money, food and help was the picture to which I was accustomed while being inside every refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar during the time that I was there.


My team and I tried to help them as much as we could, but we discussed that “we had to help them secretly because everyone needed help. Otherwise, it would create unfairness to the refugees”.


Although there were continuously donors donating goods and foods for the camps, many refugees did not receive the donation.


While I was reporting the story, there were four hundred thirty thousand refugees coming to the camp, and the number continued to increase.


It is not strange to see many emaciated refugees ravishing goods and foods when someone donated.


No one wanted to come to Bangladesh because they did not want to leave their homeland to stay in a refugee camp where a canvas was used as the roof and plastic sheets were used as the floor. These shelters could not protect them from the sun or rain.


Everyone traveling to Bangladesh used to have their own house.


Even on the day that I asked about the incident in Rakhine State, their homeland, they did not have any more tears to shed for the loss as now their tears have turned into rage at the Myanmar government that made them face the destiny of the homeless.


As the “fellow human being”, I do hope that this situation will end soon and that they can return to their homeland from which they have left.


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