#RohingyaGenocideDay

Posted on: August 23, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

Updated 25 August   “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   “I want to send messages to my people and to the world through my poems. My poems are the real voice of Rohingya women that need to be heard. They too deserve equality.”  –Shahida, Rohingya refugee   “In contrast to those who suggest that we act as soon as the whistle blows, I suggest that, even before the whistle blows, we ceaselessly try to know the world in which we live — and act. Even if we must act on imperfect knowledge, we must never act as if knowing is no longer relevant.” -Mahmood Mamdani in Saviors and Survivors   Too many calls for our…

Read More

Ro Anamul Hasan, Rohingya poet

Posted on: August 23, 2019 | By: Tom Arcaro | Filed under: Refugee humanitarians

25 August 2017 “The day I can never forget, even in the hereafter.” –Ro Anamul Hasan Ro Anamul Hasan, Rohingya poet Harsh memories On this #RohingyaGenocideDay, I have been asked to share the voice of yet another Rohingya refugee humanitarian and poet. You can read about other Rohingya poets here. Below you can experience two of Anamul Hasan’s poems, and, scrolling down, you can hear his voice as he explains why he writes. Like the other young men and women I have profiled, Anamul Hasan is a ‘refugee humanitarian’, and has worked with MSF as an interpreter, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) doing field visits and data entry for IOM. These international humanitarian organizations are doing a good job, he tells me, though it can never be enough. Like many of his friends, he struggles to make meaning of his life and uses poetry to remember and to lay bare his memories and…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

‘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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More
Previous