“It was early in the morning when the military came. I woke up to a big sound that sounded like a bomb blast. Then the shooting started and everyone was screaming. We ran for our lives. It was dark and there were people running all around us. It only took us thirty minutes to get to safety because our village is close to the border. But then some of us decided to go back. There were five of us. We were curious. We wanted to see what happened to the others. We crawled on our stomachs to the top of a hill, and looked down at our village. There were so many dead bodies. Some of them were my cousins. I saw a girl from school with three soldiers kneeling on top of her. They were covering her mouth so she wouldn’t scream. I felt so dizzy. I couldn’t stand up. I used to have a dream that I was going to grow up and help my family. I was studying hard. Now I don’t even know why I’d want to live in this world.” ----------------------------------------------------- This week I'm sharing a series of first hand accounts from Rohingya refugees. The Rohingya are a persecuted ethnic minority who have been violently evicted from Myanmar by Buddhist extremists. Over the past year, nearly 700,000 Rohingya have been driven from their homes and are now residing in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Their living conditions are already dire, and monsoon season is approaching. As we share their stories, we are raising money to help build inexpensive bamboo houses for these refugees. We’ve raised enough for 30 houses so far. Please consider donating: LINK IN BIO
“They didn’t say a word. They just started firing into the air and lighting our houses on fire. The burning began on the north side of our village, so we fled south into the forest. We walked all night through the dark. I could hear people in the forest all around me. We were too afraid to rest. When the sun began to rise, everyone panicked and started to run. I noticed two children leaning against a tree. Both of them were crying. The boy said nothing. The girl would only tell me that her mother had been killed. When I asked if they wanted to come with me, they nodded ‘yes.’ I’m taking care of them the best I can, but it’s difficult because I already have a large family. I think they are happier now. The girl has made some friends in camp. But she still keeps asking about her mother.” ----------------------------------------------------- This week I'm sharing a series of first hand accounts from Rohingya refugees. The Rohingya are a persecuted ethnic minority who have been violently evicted from Myanmar by Buddhist extremists. Over the past year, nearly 700,000 Rohingya have been driven from their homes and are now residing in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Their living conditions are already dire, and monsoon season is approaching. As we share their stories, we are raising money to help build inexpensive bamboo houses for these refugees. (They are currently living in plastic tents.) Bamboo houses can be built for $600 a piece, and we’ve raised enough for over 400 so far. Please consider donating: LINK IN BIO.
Stanton was in Bangladesh in the middle of January and during that visit also went down to Cox’s Bazar to visit the Rohingya camps.
"Nobody was prepared for this. There are now 700,000 people trying to figure out how to survive in the middle of nowhere. A few months ago, this entire area was a national forest reserve. It was covered with trees. But the refugees had nothing when they arrived, so they started cutting the trees for fuel. Then they moved on to shrubs. Now they’ve dug up all the roots so there’s nothing left but loose soil. It’s too dangerous for them to go home so we’re trying to make the best of the situation. Almost all the refugees are living in plastic tents right now. They’re extremely vulnerable. So we’ve designed sturdy bamboo houses and we’re building them as fast as we can. We want to finish as many as possible before the monsoon season arrives." ------------------------------------------ This week I'm sharing a series of first hand accounts from Rohingya refugees. Alongside these stories, we’ll meet a few of the wonderful people who are working to make the situation better. This is Immad-- a construction coordinator for the humanitarian organization OBAT Helpers. Immad is a hero of our tale because he designed the bamboo houses that we are currently raising money to build. Our campaign has raised over $500,000 so far. That’s enough to build nearly 800 houses. Because each house can hold a family of six, that’s enough to shelter nearly 5,000 people. A pretty remarkable achievement, but there are still nearly a million refugees without homes. So if you haven’t already, please consider donating: LINK IN BIO
He has previously held many other successful fundraising campaigns starting in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy, Stanton went to the hardest-hit areas of New York City to tell the stories of the people living there-from residents to volunteers and first responders. Stanton partnered with Tumblr founder David Karp to launch an Indiegogo fundraiser for the victims of Hurricane Sandy with an original goal of US$100,000. Within the first 12-hours they raised $86,000 and reached a total of $318,530 by the end of the campaign. Stanton had studied history at the University of Georgia and worked as a bond trader in Chicago for a while. After losing the job, he decided to pursue photography and later started the blog. Over the last seven years, HONY developed more than 20 million followers across several social media platforms. “Humans of New York began as a photography project in 2010. The initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers on the street, and create an exhaustive catalogue of the city’s inhabitants,” Stanton wrote on the website. He said: “Somewhere along the way, I began to interview my subjects in addition to photographing them. And alongside their portraits, I’d include quotes and short stories from their lives. Taken together, these portraits and captions became the subject of a vibrant blog.” HONY has also expanded to feature stories from over 20 different countries over the last five years. His trips to Bangladesh and the Philippines are also part of that project. Stanton is the author of two No 1 New York Times bestsellers, “Humans of New York” (2013) and “Humans of New York: Stories” (2015) and the children’s book bestseller “Little Humans” (2014).
During my recent trip to Bangladesh, I spent several days outside of Cox’s Bazaar, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have settled into camps. I’ll be sharing some of their stories over the next week. The situation is quite dire and many of the stories will be tough to read. But during this time, we’ll be having a fundraiser to impact the lives of refugees in a direct way—by building sturdy homes before the monsoon season arrives. I’ll be explaining more about the fundraiser throughout the series, but you can find the link in bio. Hopefully as we spend the next week learning the stories of these refugees, we can also play a small part in softening their hardships.