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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 296-300

The story of a Rohingya refugee: becoming a community psychosocial volunteer

1 Medical Assistant, Community Psychosocial Volunteer, Gonoshashthaya Kendra, Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh
2 M.S., Public Health and Nutrition Unit, UNHCR Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

Correspondence Address:
Hasna Sumi
Cox’s Bazar
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/INTV.INTV_46_19

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Following violence in Arakan State in Myanmar in August 2017, many Rohingya refugees arrived in Bangladesh with tremendous mental trauma. They also arrived with health problems, along with psychosocial distress shaped by their experiences in Myanmar. Mental health conditions and psychosocial problems have made life more precarious than ever to them. To come to another country (Bangladesh) and to adjust here was a major change to their lives. However, people can also be resilient in the face of adversities and some are able to continue and thrive in the context of perspective hardship. In this personal reflection, the first author, Mr. Arafat Uddin, shares his experiences as a community psychosocial volunteer at the makeshift refugee camps in Bangladesh. He describes his own experience as a Rohingya refugee and shares his personal experience of becoming a psychosocial volunteer. He has also reflects on his role as a community psychosocial volunteer, discusses the challenges he faces, describes perceptions of the community around his work, and shares his future expectations. In the last part of this piece, Hasna Sumi, a female Bangladeshi psychologist with UNHCR, describes her experiences in training and supervising community psychosocial volunteers.
  • This personal reflection contains the life history of Arafat Uddin as told to Hasna Akter Sumi, Psychosocial Associate with UNHCR’s Mental Health and Psychosocial Support team in Cox’s Bazar. When the call for papers for this special issue was launched, Sumi had the idea to record a life story from the perspective of a Rohingya refugee. She works closely with a team of Rohingya psychosocial volunteers and asked who among them would volunteer to share their story. Arafat willingly came forward. Sumi and Arafat sat together on 29th April and 2nd May 2019 in camp 4 in Kutupalong Mega Camp. They spoke in the Rohingya language. Arafat told his story while Sumi wrote it down in an English version. The various drafts of this article were discussed with Arafat and he has given his consent to publish this story.

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