Rahima, who fled her home in Myanmar, stands in a camp in Bangladesh

After fleeing her home in Myanmar and terrible suffering, Rahima still finds the strength to be positive about her new role in the community. © A J Ghani/British Red Cross

I met Rahima in Bangladesh when I visited with the British Red Cross. Like hundreds of thousands of others, she had fled her home in Myanmar. Deeply moved by her story, I promised to share it with the world.

“I am only 30 but I know I look older.” Rahima said.

“It is because I have been through so much.

“Though I am so sad, it is very important to tell our terrible story to the whole world.”

 “I wanted to climb into the hole with them”

“It took us 11 days to get here.

“I had three children with me on the way, now I have only one child, she is five years old. Her name is Mariambibi.

“One of my children was killed crossing the border, she was only 11.

“My other child was only seven. When we crossed it was very cold and raining.

“We did not have enough food so my child got sick and was taken by disease.”

“When I lost my two children, I wanted to climb into the hole with them and lay there.

“We faced so much pain just to reach here.”

Essential support to people who have lost almost everything

Rahima is one of over 706,000 people who fled their homes after violence in Myanmar last year.

This is more people than live in Manchester and Swansea combined.

Most arrived with almost nothing, having left with just what they could carry.

The Red Cross and our partners the Bangladesh Red Crescent are providing essential food, clean water and medical care.

With so many people crowded together, disease can spread quickly through dirty water.

Helping families to stay healthy is vital. Red Crescent volunteers visit every day to teach people about how to keep their drinking water clean.

Learning to help other families

A group of women clap as they sit in a circle on the floor in a hygiene training group

Rahima with the hygiene promotion training group
© A J Ghani/British Red Cross

“Now, we are afraid because of the monsoon rains,” Rahima said.

“There is so much impure water here; it has a lot of germs. We can’t see them but we are drinking this water.

“By drinking this water we are getting many diseases.”

Rahima is now learning to teach her neighbours how to keep drinking water clean and safe through a Red Crescent training programme.

Red Crescent volunteers train people in the camps every day and have reached hundreds of thousands.

“I want their safety”

After a training session, Rahima said: “Water is so important for our health, for our hygiene, for our safety. That’s why I come here.”

“I am very excited that I can teach what I learn through this training to other people in my block, to my community. I want their safety.

“Since I lost my children, I want to protect other people’s children so they do not fall to disease.

“That is why I want to advise the fathers and mothers of the children.

“So they can protect them. So their children can live and get a better future in their upcoming life.

“I have only one child now and I will try my best to protect her and the community’s children.”

Give to the Myanmar Appeal

Rahima also lost her husband and two other children before fleeing Myanmar.

She could have given in to her terrible loss and grief.

Yet she has used her great strength to help other families keep their children healthy and safe.

Rahima wanted you to read this story. If it inspires you as much as it inspires me, please donate to the Myanmar Appeal.