Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh, with Caritas and JRS, sharing with wonderful children

We returned to Bangladesh, after the first training provided in the month of May. On this occasion we went to provide training in the Rohingya refugee camps and to monitor the progress of the Caritas staff with respect to the previous training.

The first day we arrived in Dhaka, and we had to wait for the next day to take another domestic flight to Cox’s Bazar, the nearest town to the refugee camps.

Once there we met again with the staff of JRS Bangladesh, Father Jeya and Father Francis, and with the staff of Caritas Bangladesh, Ambros, Collins and Ram Proshad. That same day we just reviewed the details of the following days, to have everything ready.

So the day of truth arrived, after days of preparation, we arrived with the Caritas van to refugee camp number 4 in the Cox’s Bazar region, in Bangladesh. That field is where Caritas has invested the most effort, and the truth is that we were surprised by the incredible work they had done.

The engineering work was impressive, with robust bridges made with bamboo, roads and stairs made with sacks and pieces of concrete … A magnificent job!

And we headed to the first Child Friendly Space (CFS), a sturdy and spacious cabin with 3 rooms, an office and two classrooms made with bamboo and plastic tarpaulin !!! Fantastic!!!!

The classrooms are super colorful and full of materials, especially made with recycled materials, to make games and learn ingeniously. It is super well assembled !!! and we loved being part of it.

The first workshop Mayra and I had to separate in the two classrooms, in each classroom we had 25 students each from 4 to 6 years … We started with the cavalry … hehehehe … The truth is that it was very easy!

They were eager to work with us, with those faces of amazement and illusion. In some of the children you could still read the experiences they had experienced, the traumatic-emotional difficulties they were still running from …

But in general, they were eager to participate with us throughout the workshop, sharing and learning. At the end of the session, the children queued up to receive a hard-boiled egg and an apple, one of the most important foods of the day, a portion of protein and another of vitamins … That image comforted us at the same time that we broke the heart …

The truth is that the images we saw in the refugee camp were quite hard. The total number of refugees has reached one and a half million, and of this 60% are children …

Walking through the countryside you can see children everywhere! the smallest nudes from the waist down, the little girls of 7 years taking care of their brothers of 3 years … Luckily there are schools in the fields, in addition the CFS of Caritas help to improve the development of the children for a more profitable education, including artistic tools to improve cognitive development.

The following workshops and days were great. In total of 6 CFS we had about 700 students, in age groups of 4 to 6 years, from 6 to 9 years, from 9 to 12 years and from 12 to 16 years … All the groups enjoyed without condition, as always at the beginning little timid, and even with fear of us, people very different from what they are used to see, but quickly, and with some clowning, they gave themselves to enjoy together …

In the end, after making an evaluation, the result was incredible, the staff of Caritas and JRS was delighted to see the children enjoying freely, learning and recovering their smiles, lost for some time.

Once the workshops were held in the refugee camp, we did the training of the staff, both Caritas and the facilitators of the CFS.

The objective was to assess and discuss what was learned in the first training and the experience in the field. The training lasted three days for 30 people, and all the staff was delivered and motivated at all times.

We had a great time, and we managed to adapt all the knowledge to be taught in the CFS of the fields. We all learned and shared together, without reservations, willing and prepared to deliver our experiences to the people who need them.

The final evaluation was super enriching and satisfying, we could go happy and happy, we had done a good job … We can not wait to be able to return to continue the work already begun …

Rainbow of Love School, a place for the Rohingya children

The last experience we did in Kuala Lumpur was at the Rainbow of Love school. It is a small school created by the NGO Human Aid for the Rohingya refugees in Kuala Lumpur. These children do not have the right to formal education because the country of Malaysia does not recognize the refugees, and therefore they do not have papers, excluding them from the possibility of having a regulated education. The Rainbow of Love school provides non-formal education for these refugee Rohingya children.

We just met Haziq, our contact, a local volunteer who does services for the school. We loved his attention, the forms and the training he did not give on the school, in a very logical and coherent way, with a complete dedication to the well-being of the children of the school, really a lifeline for these children, that after Having suffered a hellish path and about to perish in their country of origin, here they find love and opportunities that if it were not for them they would not have.

Haziq called the children to go to the floor below where we were going to carry out the workshops. There were 57 children of different ages, from 17 years old to 5 years old! They were to eat them !!! and they were super willing and motivated! That smiling faces more precious … At first we were strangers, and everyone behaved timidly … But little by little with our antics were loosened and delivered to the workshop, to enjoy and share with us …

In a moment of the workshop, it was the turn of some little girls of about 6 years, they were so excited to participate that they could not stand the emotion! squeezing their faces of the illusion that made them! Only this moment already justifies everything we do, the illusion of a girl, the challenge, the emotion, to share, to draw a smile on their faces, to create something for their community …

And with all the fuss of the children crazy for being the next volunteer, prepared to give everything, with total dedication and sincerity, we had to finish the workshop … The only sad note was the disappointed face of those who did not have more time to participate in the activities … But the teachers told us that they would continue with the activities so that everyone could enjoy it.

And from there we went to eat, they spread some plastic sheets on the floor where all the children sat in a group. In the middle of each group they put a large tray with a mountain of rice and some curried eggs …

All the children were super cute, super educated, waiting for the managers to finish serving to start eating … We said that we had no problem eating in the community dishes, but finally we were given a plate to each one separately …

Of course, we sit in the middle of everyone, sharing and playing with the children. How beautiful they are, they deserve everything we can give them, because they give everything, without reservation, so that we try, that they feel that we deserve their smiles !!

We hope to have the opportunity to return …

JRS Bangkok, a meeting with great people dedicated to refugees

From Malaysia we flew to Bangkok, Thailand to meet the staff of JRS Bangkok, a community dedicated to helping mainly urban refugees from many parts of the world, such as Rohingyas, Ethiopia, Somalia …

These refugees do not have papers and they live in a quite tense situation in relation to the authorities, besides having to solve their needs for the sustenance of their families …

So the agreed day we went to the facilities of JRS Thailand. There they took us to the room where the 3-day workshop for staff and educators was to be held. Attendees were of varied nationalities, especially Thai, but also from Myanmar, Somalia, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Indonesia … Almost all were educators, so the content had to be adjusted to the needs … But no problem, we have everything under control.

We started the training with presentations, to be able to connect with the group, get their attention and start to make them understand what we were offering them. Everything was flowing little by little, the motivation was increasing and we had it easier to offer what we had in the programming.

The days went by and the objectives were fulfilled. The assistants were involved and we felt that the sense of formation was being achieved. The end was great, finally it was time to do an evaluation and express what everyone had felt. The opinions of the people overwhelmed us, super positive, about what they had experienced.

Then we could express how well we had gone through, how easy it had been to share our experience with them, and how much we had learned … Surely this does not end here and we will see each other again !!!!!

Smart Iqra Education Center, meeting Rohingya and Pakistan refugee children

The next school we went to is also in a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It is the Smart Iqra Education Center school. It is a small school where the majority of students are Rohingyas and Pakistani refugees. The building was quite new, although the number of students is high.

We carried out the workshop in the area that we could, since with the furniture it is difficult to do practical activities. We went out to the garden and exposed ourselves to the sun and the high temperatures, for a limited time … The children, it goes without saying that they were delighted, we started to play and enjoy.

Then we move to the shade, sweaty and agitated, prepared for the second part, the most creative, dedicated and personal, where we explore and share. All were delivered and motivated, enjoying every minute. As it progressed there were more and more willing volunteers, wanting to participate.

In the end we all said goodbye with gratitude and wanting more. We were exhausted but delighted, grateful for the gift that all of us children had given us. Remembering those faces of happiness and enthusiasm … Beautiful work ours …

Caritas Bangladesh, relieving the pain of a people, Rohingyas refugees

The following collaboration was very special for us, not only it returned us to the field work and it meant collaborating with a new organization, but it was also for people who are now in a critical situation. This is the Rohingya refugees, expelled / escaped from Myanmar by the bloodthirsty repression suffered by the country’s military.

The Rohingya people are an ethnic group of Muslim religion living in the state of Rakhine, called Arkan by the Rohingyas, in Myanmar. Its antiquity in those lands is one of the main disputes between the Rohingyas and the government of Myanmar. Today the number of refugees amounts to 1.2 million people, crammed into very basic conditions, living in tents, without any internal security control, with a growing dominance of mafias and without the possibility of any solution or hope to short term.

In addition, the reluctance of the Bangladeshi government to invest in these fields and create a minimum infrastructure, with the idea of ​​ensuring that these refugees are only temporarily and do not settle on these lands permanently. Nor do they allow schools to be created, which is why Caritas has created Child Friendly Spaces (CFS).

These spaces provide a safe place where children, 60% of all refugees, can be safe and have minimal development, learn basic hygiene, eat properly and can develop minimally through complementary education.

Our collaboration was through the Jesuits Refugee Service (JRS) that operated through Caritas, so for practical purposes our work directly reported to the staff and facilitators of Caritas Bangladesh. Caritas is a huge international social service organization started in 1897 that is dedicated to providing worldwide support for the defense of the poor and disadvantaged.

We flew from Barcelona, ​​for about 14 hours. Once in Bangladesh, and after endless passport checks, we met our contact, Mr. Shishir, one of the Caritas managers in Dhaka, the capital of the country. With him we were visiting the surroundings of Dhaka to take a domestic plane to Cox’s Bazar, where we would carry out the workshop.

The organization of Caritas Bangladesh had everything ready. We were housed in a hotel and the workshop would take place in the conference room. Everything was ready so that the next day we would start 7 hours a day of workshop during the following 5 days.

At 5 minutes by 8:30 we were all in the workshop room, observing each other, curious, eager to start. You could see in the face the intrigue …: what is done in a Clown workshop …? Hahahahaha … shortly you were going to discover it!

We gave the start bell and Mr. Shishir was responsible for initiating the presentations … what nerves! We really wanted to start, to share together the following days of intense work, mutual knowledge, effort and a lot of truth.

In total there were 26 people, half Caritas staff, some senior and others junior, and the other half were facilitators, all women, who would be responsible for teaching CFS in the refugee camps.

At first the atmosphere was a bit more rigid, of shyness, there were some cultural barriers that we had to overcome, it was difficult to get used to our way of doing things, taking care of and looking for your own opinion, your own expression and each of them.

The facilitating girls, Muslim majority, at first cost them to integrate the exercises to their schemes, I do not blame them, jejejeje … but little by little we all merged into a fantastic and wonderful group of expression and play, learning and experimentation.

The dynamics raised more and more volunteers. Those and those who at first looked down to ask for collaboration, now shone their eyes with emotion, the need to say their opinion, to share with all of us the essence that they had inside. In the common bond: all for the children and learning to offer more, we all immerse ourselves in this trip that lasted 5 days.

And this feeling was palpable, the final opinions, the recognitions, the expressions of gratitude of the group left us on the verge of tears. Our different way of dealing with the concepts surprised them greatly, they told us that they had not been bored for a single moment, that the treatment of the concepts had been so simple, very clear … This is the prize for what we do … Happy people !!!

Through our technique, from us, leaving a memory and knowledge that will now reach the Rohingyas, their children, to a part of the world that needs to laugh and express, are limits or barriers, so we can say that the voice of the world is also yours.


After this experience, intense, emotional, with images that we will not forget, with looks, gestures, laughs and smiles that remain engraved on us forever … Good luck in your incredible mission, we will see each other again, without a doubt …

From Cox’s Bazar we fly to Dhaka to catch another plane to Chennai, India, where the next collaboration awaits us … Let’s go !!!