Updated: Apr 26, 2018
We hope to return to Bangladesh with bigger impact
F Global Ehsan Relief team members speak of moving encounters with the Rohingya refugees and want to increase aid. “I hope people look at our pictures and say ‘Really? This is happening there?’” said one.
COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Desperate refugees came rushing out of the hills and onto the roads till they surrounded the vehicle that had just pulled over.
“There were all sorts of people - old ladies, small kids, injured men. I took out my camera and the first thing I recorded was a small kid knocking on our window,” recalls Ameer Eusoffe, 28.
Without much thought, the Singaporean opened the door to hand his only pack of biscuits to the kid – and was instantly swarmed by people begging, hoping and crying for aid.
“We didn’t have anything else with us at that moment. It made me realise that there is only so much you can do,” said Mr Ameer, who was part of a team from Global Ehsan Relief, a non-government organisation which was in Bangladesh in mid-September to give aid to the Rohingya refugees.
Its team of 10 full-time staff from raised S$100,000 in just over one week for their first round of relief efforts.
The “overwhelming” support came from people of different communities in Singapore – including a Chinese Buddhist organisation, a Sikh group, and even Bangladeshi migrant workers, said Ustaz Muhammad Faisal Bin Mohamed Ayub, 32, the project leader of the relief team.
Separately, other groups in Singapore also have raised more than S$200,000 for the refugees in Bangladesh. The International Organisation for Migration estimates that more than 500,000 Rohingyas to date have arrived in Bangladesh since Aug 25, many of whom fled from attacks on their villages in Rakhine state, Myanmar, without any belongings.
As a result, makeshift refugee camps have sprung up along the southern town of Cox’s Bazar, and international NGOs are struggling to provide help to everyone.
On its part, Global Ehsan Relief distributed more than 1,000 family aid packs which consisted of food items such as rice, oil, and other dried goods, as well as hygiene kits and materials for building shelters for the refugees.
Said Mr Faisal:
They will just eat anything that they find on the ground, and many are getting sick.