Life can change in an instant.
All refugees have faced sudden, violent changes in their lives. Uprooted from their homes by conflict and disaster, they are forced to flee and find refuge wherever they can, often in countries and communities not their own. UNHCR estimates that there are around 26 million refugees worldwide, making it one of the greatest humanitarian crises of our time.
Trapped in overcrowded camps with no guarantee of food, clean water or income, refugees face a bleak existence. The global COVID-19 pandemic has only added to their suffering.
On 20 June, we commemorate World Refugee Day, recognising the resilience of 26 million1 refugees who, without warning, faced the worst days of their lives. Here is one of their stories.
World Vision’s Child-Friendly Space at the Refugee Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh is called Surjoful (Sunflower). It was named by the children who attend it every day.
Cheerful little Jannatul, seven, is a favourite of the teachers at Surjoful, where she enjoys reading picture books and drawing. Jannatul lives in a small shelter with her mother Salima2. It’s far from the farm and the family they lost in Myanmar, but for now, it’s a place to call home.
Mother and daughter only have each other now. Salima’s husband Mohammed, son Hafej and daughter Kalima were killed in Myanmar as widespread violence erupted.
“The shooting started at night. Our homes were set on fire. People were running everywhere," recalls Salima. “Jannatul was with me, but I didn’t know what had happened to my husband and children. Later I saw them dead.” Salima and Jannatul joined thousands of villagers fleeing to Bangladesh. “We walked for a week in the rain, and for three days we didn’t eat,” says Salima. “Jannatul was about to die when another family shared some rice with us.”
Crossing the Naf River, Salima and Jannatul landed in Cox’s Bazar — now home to the world’s largest, most densely populated refugee camp. Salima worries about protecting herself and her daughter. Lack of access to basic services and self-reliance opportunities exposes refugees — especially women and girls — to trafficking, exploitation, child marriage and drug abuse.
World Vision began working in the camps as refugees poured across the border. Today, we provide clean water, food, daily hygiene items and more to families. We also run Child-Friendly Spaces like Surjoful where children can play, learn and recover. Salima is thankful for this.
Globally, World Vision is reaching out to refugee children like Jannatul, helping them rebuild their shattered lives. But we can’t do it alone. It takes the effort of many ordinary people rising up to make an extraordinary impact in their lives.
Through the Save Fragile Lives Fund, you can help children living in or escaping from places like Syria, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and DR Congo. Your contributions will help them access life-saving supplies like food, shelter and hygiene kits, or lasting interventions such as child-friendly spaces that help children deal with trauma, access counselling and catch up on education.
Are you ready to change the lives of refugee children for good? It only takes a moment to make a difference! Take a moment to make a donation today.
2 Name changed to protect identity.
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