Volunteer Rohingya workers = ‘refugee humanitarians’?

Posted on: August 18, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

“They are absolutely humanitarians, we couldn’t do anything without them. I am thrilled you are using that term. Using the term ‘humanitarians’ is not only empowering but essential to their sense of identify, resilience and self-reliance. With all the trauma they have experienced in the past, the ongoing protection concerns in the present, and their lack of durable solutions or ability to plan for the future, this is vital in their protracted displacement.” -Emily Reid, DRC Honoring volunteer and CFW Rohingya workers as ‘refugee humanitarians’ Humanitarians There are over 500,000 women and men responding to humanitarian crises around the world. Since 2008, each August 19th humanitarians around the globe observe World Humanitarian Day. The theme for this year’s World Humanitarian Day is #WomenHumanitarians, and stories highlighting the heroic efforts of female humanitarians can be found on the UN web site. But who are these ‘humanitarians’ being honored? Certainly they include women…

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Many voices needing to be heard

Posted on: August 6, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

“I would like to be part of an effort to promote unity and peace across the world. I feel that people often see the worst in each other and changing this outlook might help resolve conflicts.” –Khing Maung Soe, refugee humanitarian “Thus, the ultimate choice for a man, inasmuch as he is driven to transcend himself, is to create or to destroy, to love or to hate.” ― Erich Fromm, The Sane Society Many voices wanting to be heard In the last two months it has been my great pleasure and honor to meet (via WhatsApp, Skype, FaceTime Messenger, etc.) many Rohingya refugees that now call Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh their (hopefully temporary) home. There are many poets in the camps, both men and women, and even writing groups that meet regularly. It is safe to say there are many hundreds of Rohingya poets who have collectively written thousands of…

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What is in a name? Introducing ‘Ro Pacifist’

Posted on: July 24, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

  “Nothing except writing poems can reduce my stress and sadness”. –Ro Pacifist   Refugee/humanitarian poets The are many poets among the Rohingya refugees ‘temporarily’ living in Cox’s Bazar, Banglasdesh, and the number is growing, especially among the young. Most use pen names, largely doing so as a protection against possible persecution were they to be identified by the Myanmar government which would have power over them in the increasingly unlikely event they were repatriated. That said, there is safety in numbers, and the fact there are more and more Rohingya poets every day publishing on Facebook and elsewhere makes the chance that any one person is singled out less likely. There is very little in their poems of which the world has not already been made painfully aware; the atrocities against the Rohingya are well documented. These poets sometimes gather in writing groups within the refugee camps, supporting each…

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Refugee/humanitarian, Shahida

Posted on: July 19, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

Update 28-7-19 Shahida is a volunteer and is paid by IOM through the Cash for Food program.  She is featured here in a segment about the recent talks between Myanmas officials and Rohingya refugee leaders produced by Al Jazzera. “I want to send messages to my people and to the world through my poems.” -Shahdia Refugee/humanitarian, Shahida In recent posts it has been my honor to present, with comment, poems written by several young Rohingya men, all refugees who have found temporary contract work within the humanitarian sector in Bangladesh. Long overdue, I now introduce a woman, Shahida.  She describes her command of English “not very good”, but I have been able to learn a great deal about her through our text conversations and by reading her poems. Below I present some of her writing and report what I have learned from her. Here is how she introduced herself to…

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Interpreting the poetry of Rohingya refugees/humanitarians

Posted on: July 12, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

Interpreting poetry through word clouds In my last several posts I have presented the poems of three young Rohingya men, calling them refugee/humanitarians. Here are the links for posts on Arif, Ro (here and here), and Zayed (here and here). Word clouds as tools Recent academic research into the use of word clouds indicates that presenting complex text into word cloud form can facilitate critical thinking, and current discussions about the pedagogical/teaching efficacy of using word clouds is both interesting and robust. Word clouds, of course, are but one tool that can be used to analyze textual content.  That said, using this particular tool on the poetry of Rohingya refugee/humanitarians yielded some stunning results. Using a basic word art generator I entered the text from all of the poems in my last several blog posts, the emotional words from Arif, Ro, and Zayed. I chose the shape of the word cloud…

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‘Home to Camp’ and ‘Rohingya, the survivor’ by Zayed

Posted on: July 5, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

Reaching out with poetry In my last post I introduced Zayed, a ‘refugee/humanitarian’ working now in Bangladesh. Although he has and uses other outlets, here are two poems Zayed wrote about and for his fellow Rohingya. Home to Camp Miles away, rivers apart Screened off with demarcated fence Expelled out intentionally Though lived centuries together. As a friend As a brother As a sister Concerning to my creed and physique. Then hunted me as an alien Oppressed me as different belief Lost thousands of my people on bloodbath As Jews faced under Hitler. No residences to call homes No people to call neighbours Like the world without a Sun☀ Chucked me out to another landscape. Where limited space is designed for all Like a cage in a million birds But feels safe here Where serves humanity. Rohingya, the survivor Sound likes thunder rumbling Went up in smoke my homes Scream…

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Zayed, a Rohingya refugee/humanitarian in Cox’s Bazar

Posted on: July 4, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

Meet Zayed In a previous post I gave some detail about Arif, a Rohingya refugee turned humanitarian.  His best friend is Zayed, and they share similar paths from refugee to ‘humanitarian.’ A very ambitious and hard working man, Zayed reports he is currently a fixer for the international media, does case management of protection issues under the Danish Refugee Council (DRC), is a freelance writer at Burma Times, and has worked as a Burmese language instructor under CODEC (Community Development Center). He is also a poet, having posted many on his Facebook page in the last months. See here for two of his recent efforts. Zayed met Arif when they were working together at the end of 2017 where they were teaching to the students together at t CODEC in Chittagong, Bangladesh. How do you define ‘humanitarian’? Above and elsewhere I use the awkward phrase ‘refugee/humanitarian’. But what does this term mean? The…

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Refugee/humanitarian worker mental heath issues

Posted on: June 27, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

“Was I born to live as refugee forever?” -Ro BM Hairu   Refugee/humanitarian worker mental heath issues Working in the context of a major humanitarian response is tough physically, mentally, and, perhaps most of all, emotionally. This is especially so in a response generated by armed conflict that involves systematic rape, torture, forced displacement, and mass execution.  Such is the case in Bangladesh where refugees from Myanmar -many Rohingya Muslims- carry deep physical and emotional scars. Efforts to deal with these issues are ongoing, and this upbeat report by UNHCR shows that human agency comes in many forms, in this case with the very young taking initiative to address serious and commonly experienced mental health issues. Emotional release through writing In my last two posts I presented, with comment, poems written by two young male refugees working for the Danish Refugee Counsel (DRC) in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh (see here and…

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On this World Refugee Day read some poems by refugee and humanitarian, Ro BM Hairu

Posted on: June 19, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

  On this World Refugee Day read some poems by refugee and humanitarian, Ro BM Hairu Too many displaced The news is stark. We learn from the UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency, that our global community has hit a depressing and historic number. There are now over 70.8 million children, women, and men who now are displaced from their homes due to war and persecusion. Over 1.2 million of those are refugees from Myanmar, victims of a government with questionable motives and methods. These refugees are victims twice over, harmed also by a failed humanitarian response. World Refugee Day On this World Refugee Day, below are some powerful poems from a refugee and humanitarian who fled Myanmar. The theme for this year’s World Refugee Day is #StepWithRefugees — Take A Step on World Refugee Day. As explained on the UNHCR web site: “Around the world, communities, schools, businesses, faith groups…

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“Ever Noteworthy Oppression”: An aid worker voice from Cox’s Bazar

Posted on: June 13, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

An aid worker voice from Cox’s Bazar “Even the most extreme consciousness of doom threatens to degenerate into idle chatter. Cultural criticism finds itself faced with the final stage of the dialectic of culture and barbarism. To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. And this corrodes even the knowledge of why it has become impossible to write poetry today.” -Theodor Adorno   Prelude I am reminded of two observations from James Dawes in his book That the World May Know. He states, “Indeed, giving voice can also be a matter of taking voice. “This contradiction between our impulse to heed trauma’s cry for representation and our instinct to protect it from representation -from invasive staring, simplification, dissection- is a split at the heart of human rights advocacy.” The voice I report below speaks in the first person of atrocities cum genocide, this one excruciatingly experienced by the Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar…

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