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The smile that stole Priyanka's heart

By Rediff Movies
May 24, 2018 12:31 IST
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'NO child deserves a life without hope for the future.'

Priyanka Chopra has been spreading joy and happiness at the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.

She headed to Dhaka soon after attending the royal wedding.

Priyanka, an UNICEF goodwill ambassador, has been spending time with Rohingya children at one of the largest refugee camps in the world.

PeeCee has been sharing posts from her visit and you'll be so proud of her!


'This is little Shohida (8 months old), who stole my heart with her infectious smile,' Priyanka shares.


'It'a poignant reminder of the dichotomy of she was getting all the help she needed, when just a few months before, her mother, Alada (who was only 19 years old at the time) walked for 15 days, while 6 months pregnant with her ,to get across the border. It shows us that there is hope left in this world.'


'When you're dealing with a mass exodus of thousands of people, who have been displaced from their homes and are desperate for refuge, the need for proper health and nutrition takes center stage...especially for women and children.'

'On the various Unicef Field Visits I have taken, I am always surprised by the simple yet effective solutions that @unicef and their partners develop to deal with the most dire and pressing situations and issues.'

'This is something I experienced again today during my visit to the Nutrition Centre at the Jamtoli camp in Cox’s Bazar. More than 60,000 babies have been born in the camps over the past 8 months, so this center is an essential resource for new mothers to learn about proper feeding and nutrition.'

'It all begins with the MUAC, a process where the child's middle upper arm is measured to ascertain their nutrition level.'

'From there, aids create a program for the child and a nutrient rich, ready-to-eat peanut paste is portioned out for each child based on the severity of malnutrition. At the Center mothers are also taught basic hygiene and good health practices when they are in their homes.'


PeeCee shares another story from the camp.

'As I walk into the Women Friendly Space at the Jamtoli Camp, I am instantly struck by a certain calmness. These camps are loud & crowded, actually overcrowded, and so to find a quiet oasis, in this case a small hut with a tarp roof and thatched bamboo walls, is surprising.'

'But for the girls in this camp, this is what they call their 'house of peace'. It's a place they can come and just be. A place to interact with friends, seek counselling, learn about hygiene, or learn life skills like art and music.'

'There are approx 50 Women Friendly Spaces in the camps, just like this one, that on any given day see 50-70 Rohingya girls seeking these safe havens.'

'The centers open at 9am, but there is seldom a day when the women aren't lined up early, waiting for the doors to open.<'/p>

'It is here that I met three 18-year-old young women, in particular, whose stories really shook me -- their names have been omitted to protect their identities. They recounted lives of pain and suffering so's difficult to fathom.'

'One scarred with memories of houses in her village being burned -- she and her parents traveled for two days to get here, passing hundreds of decapitated and dismembered bodies along the way.'

'Another shared stories of young girls being pulled from their homes to be raped and tortured. They even tried to kill her and cut her with a knife, but she fought back.'

'How did you manage to be so brave, I asked her...she replied, "If you're born you will die, so I'm not scared of dying today. In what world is it normal for an 18-year-old girl to have this perspective on life?!"

'The third young woman traveled for nearly two weeks on foot through the forest, where her youngest brother died along the way.'

'There was lots of rape and torture back home she told me, and some women's breasts were even cut off. While their lives are safer now, they are all still struggling.'


'They know that with an education they can get a job and create better lives for their family, like buying protein for their meals, and clean drinking water. It's literally as basic as that,' she added.


This pictures has a story behind it too.

'When Mansur Ali, 12 yrs old, first came to the Child Friendly Space at the Balukhali camp, he was only drawing scenes of bloodshed and violence.'

'Helicopters shooting at him and his friends playing soccer... or his village and home being on fire with burning bodies all around him.. Today, his drawings reflect a more hopeful story, one we would like all these children to have.'


'Since the #Rohingya children have arrived in Cox's Bazar, they have been living in overcrowded camps with no real place that to call their own.'

'Imagine a space that lets you forget your troubles and be a child again... even if its only for just a few hours a day.'


'For the Rohingya children, over 300,000, in the camps in Bangladesh this is the only space that allows them to be kids.'


'These Child Friendly Spaces created by @unicef give kids access to art, music, dance, sport, and counselling etc.'


'The space has often proved to be very therapeutic, helping these kids deal with the horrific situations they faced.. the @unicef aid workers work tirelessly to make sure these children find their spirit again.'


'It doesn't matter where a child is from or what his or her circumstances are... NO child deserves a life without hope for the future.'


'Across the river is Myanmar(Burma). It's empty now, but a few months ago this area, known as Sabrang was filled with hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar.'

'Their trip here was filled with many hardships and tremendous danger.'

'Many of them made their journey on foot, walking for days through the hills, then floating across the Naf River or the Bay of Bengal on make shift boats...many of them injured, pregnant, elderly, etc.'

'Their ordeal didn't end here...after entering Bangladesh, they would often have to wait for days, sleeping in the open fields with no food or water, for aid workers to reach them.'


'For a lot of the Rohingya children, this ordeal will leave them scarred, physically and emotionally, for the rest of their lives. With your help, maybe these children can have a chance at a future...because right now, their future is bleak.'

PeeCee has a request for all at the end of all her posts: 'The world needs to care. We need to care. Please lend your support at #childrenuprooted @unicef @unicefbangladesh'.


Photographs: Kind courtesy Priyanka Chopra/Instagram

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