UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra, who is on a field visit here, has shared her on-ground experiences from the Rohingya refugees shelters – from stumbling upon “calmness” in the conflict-stricken zone to urging global community to come to their aid.
The 35-year-old actor took to Instagram to document her visit – day-by-day – through posts, pictures and videos at various camps.
“As I walk into the Women Friendly Space at the Jamtoli Camp, I am instantly struck by a certain calmness. These camps are loud & crowded, actually overcrowded, and so to find a quiet oasis, in this case a small hut with a tarp roof and thatched bamboo walls, is surprising.
“But for the girls in this camp, this is what they call their ‘house of peace’. It’s a place they can come and just be. A place to interact with friends, seek counselling, learn about hygiene, or learn life skills like art and music,” Chopra wrote alongside a photograph in which she can be seen having a ‘tea party’ with a refugee girl.
The ‘Quantico’ star added there are approximately 50 Women Friendly Spaces in the camps, which give shelter to 50-70 Rohingya girls on a daily basis.
She said she met three 18-year-old women whose stories “shook” her up.
“One scarred with memories of houses in her village being burned – she and her parents travelled for two days to get here, passing hundreds of decapitated and dismembered bodies along the way. Another shared stories of young girls being pulled from their homes to be raped and tortured. They even tried to kill her and cut her with a knife, but she fought back. How did you manage to be so brave, I asked her… She replied, ‘If you’re born you will die, so I’m not scared of dying today’. In what world is it normal for an 18-year-old girl to have this perspective on life? The third young woman travelled for nearly two weeks on foot through the forest, where her youngest brother died along the way. There was lots of rape and torture back home she told me, and some women’s breasts were even cut off.”
Chopra also shared a video cradling eight-months-old, Shohida and narrated her difficult journey to the camp.
“It’s a poignant reminder of the dichotomy of life… Here she was getting all the help she needed, when just a few months before, her mother, Alada (who was only 19-years-old at the time) walked for 15 days, while six months pregnant with her, to get across the border. It shows us that there is hope left in this world,” she wrote.
The actor again visited Nutrition Centre at the Jamtoli camp in Cox’s Bazar.
“More than 60,000 babies have been born in the camps over the past eight months, so this centre is an essential resource for new mothers to learn about proper feeding and nutrition,” she said.
“While their lives are safer now, they are all still struggling. They know that with an education they can get a job and create better lives for their family, like buying protein for their meals, and clean drinking water. It’s literally as basic as that,” the actor added.
Chopra urged people to send in donations and lend their support through UNICEF.