By Nusrat Daud Pritha, CARE Bangladesh
Children born in Myanmar’s Northern Rakhine state often had very limited access to health services. Most of the infants and children suffered from severe malnutrition on their journey from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Ajida was born into the refugee camps; but this two-month-old is healthier than most other children in the camps.
It rained all morning. Anwar Begum was returning home through the muddy camp alleys. A small make shift shelter of bamboo and tarp in Block D, Camp 16 is her home for nearly a year now. Partly soaked, she was carrying her two month old Ajida in her arms and barely holding on to the umbrella while her older son Jaber was following her footstep. They are just back from one of the nutrition centers where they got nutrition supplies for herself and her elder son.
Mothers with infants and children under five receive nutritional powder from the Nutrition Centers run by different national and international organizations. This support is extended by CMAM sector, working across all the refugee camps through various implementers. Currently 2 nutrition centers are running in Camp 16 managed by CARE where 22,000 people currently reside.
Anwar Begum lives in this camp with her husband Md. Elias and two children. The youngest one is Ajida was born here. Months prior to delivering Ajida, she went to a meeting for expectant mothers who received safe delivery kits; an initiative from the health sector working in the refugee camps.
During delivery the local midwife used the delivery kit provided and Ajida was born a safe and healthy baby at their temporary shelter. Unlike many of the children suffering from severe and acute malnutrition Ajida is a spirited little one, full of life and curiosity. So much so that having a conversation with Anwar was starting to get a little difficult because of Ajida’s non-stop movements. It was quite evident that she is healthy.
As for Anwar herself, she also had relatively healthier and safer pregnancy. During pregnancy, she had easy access to folic acid and iron tablets that would prevent her from feeling weak. Now that Ajida is two months old, proper care is required to keep her safe and healthy. For this, Anwar regularly visits one of the nutrition centers to collect nutrition supplies for her and Jabed, her four-year-old son. Although Anwar doesn’t like the taste of the nutrition mix, as a lactating mother she takes it regularly to for Ajida’s nutrition and growth. She also makes sure that Jaber doesn’t miss the mix either.
Md. Elias was a little behind the mother and children. With an infant and a four-year, it is difficult to go to a nutrition center that is some distance away from their shelter. Elias also happily accompanies her family. In general, he is happy with the overall health services that they receive in Bangladesh. To him, in many ways the treatment and the services are better in Bangladesh. But most importantly, he is able to live in peace with his family here. He complains of movement restrictions in Myanmar. “We couldn’t move freely, we had difficulty even going to the market for basic supplies. Life is not easy here, but at least we have peace here. We are able to move freely, go to other camps, avail medicines and treatments easily.”
As part of site management, CARE monitors, supervises and coordinates all the interventions within Camp 16, to ensure efficient service delivery to all refugees. The distribution of nutrition supplies is part of the multi-sectoral interventions. Apart from ensuring a range of services such as WASH, Protection and GVB, efficient service delivery, CARE also provides site improvement support in Camp 16 like drainage, waste management and camp security etc.
Throughout the monsoon, much of the activities at Camp 16 involved relocating households exposed to landslides to safe locations, fixing and making new drainage channels, reinforcing vulnerable shelters with sand bags, fixing stairs and other WASH infrastructures damaged by rain and waterlogging, conducting rescue operations for victims affected by heavy rains and landslides to ensure better living conditions for the refugees.
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