As World Humanitarian Day approaches, we hear from Rohingya and Bangladeshi humanitarian workers, supported by Community Partners International (CPI), providing essential services to refugees and local communities in Kutupalong Refugee Camp, Bangladesh.
Hygiene Promotion Worker
"My work is important because my community isn't very aware of hygiene or health."
My work is important because my community isn’t very aware of hygiene or health. They can easily fall sick, mostly due to hygiene problems or waterborne diseases.
I conduct hygiene promotion sessions regularly. I teach families the importance of hygiene and why they should wash their hands before and after eating or preparing food, and after using the toilet. Now, they boil the water for drinking and I give them water purification tablets.
I also show women how they can dispose of their menstrual pads in the menstrual hygiene management facilities.
Whenever I come across problems with trash, I engage with the community and we clean it up together. I also provide them with cleaning kits so that they can keep their neighborhood clean. This helps keep the community safe, clean and disease-free.
After the heavy rains brought by Cyclone Mocha [in May 2023], there was a lot of standing water in the camps, and dengue fever began to spread in our block. In one household, everyone got it. They were barely able to see and were crying in pain. When I heard about it, I went to the area, checked the house, and found a lot of standing water. I helped them get medical treatment and explained the cause of dengue and how to prevent it. I advised them to get rid of any standing water and put lids on their water pots. After a few days, they recovered and thanked me for my help.
Sexual and Reproductive Health Worker
"Each day, I walk through my neighborhood looking for emergency cases. It might be a woman with labor pain or another need."
Each day, I walk through my neighborhood looking for emergency cases. It might be a woman with labor pain, whose waters have broken, or another need. There are also people with high blood pressure, so I need to check them daily.
On my rounds, I also educate people about pregnancy, sexual and reproductive health, and hygiene. I do regular follow-up visits with pregnant women to offer my help and advice, and I always encourage them to choose facility-based births rather than giving birth at home.
Once I helped a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy. She only had her husband to help her. She asked for me late one evening when her labor pain started and she wasn’t feeling well. I told her I would send an ambulance but she wasn’t willing to go to the health facility without me. So I summoned the ambulance and accompanied her. Her baby was born a few hours later and both the mother and her child were fine. The woman thanked me personally, telling me that I had helped her so much.
I am glad that I am able to improve the health of people in my community.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Worker
"Through my work, the community gets access to safe water for drinking and other daily needs."
Through my work, the community gets access to safe water for drinking and other daily needs.
I repair tube wells and tap stands and fix broken latrines and other facilities. Whenever there is any problem with tube wells or tap stands, I fix them right away as it is difficult to get water in the camp.
When a toilet is broken, that’s also a big issue. People have to go far to find one, or they use an open area if there’s no toilet available.
Menstrual hygiene management facilities are important for women. So it’s necessary to repair them quickly.
When Cyclone Mocha struck [in May 2023], a lot of WASH facilities were destroyed. That was an emergency situation. Many tube wells were damaged, and latrines, bathing units and menstrual hygiene management facilities were also affected. I worked hard with my team and we repaired all the damaged facilities very quickly so that people could use them again.
Being able to help people is my biggest reward.
"My work helps people get the health care they need in a systematic way. This is very meaningful for me."
When patients arrive at the health post, I decide where they need to go. I ask them about their symptoms and, if their condition is serious, send them to the emergency room. If a patient’s condition is not serious, I check their vital signs. During this process, I sometimes identify other health problems that they’re not aware of and help them to get proper treatment.
When a patient comes in with an emergency, such as a wound, I take them to the emergency room and help the doctors with stitching and other needs. Then, I dress the wound on the doctor’s instructions.
My work helps people get the health care they need in a systematic way. This means that they are correctly prioritized and satisfied with their care. This is very meaningful for me.
"Mental health support is especially important for Rohingya refugees who suffer from trauma and distress."
I provide mental health services to Rohingya refugees and Bangladeshi communities. The most rewarding thing is that people learn about mental illness and recognize their mental health needs. I hold education sessions each day to help people understand mental health and well-being. I also conduct counseling, therapy, and relaxation sessions, provide psychosocial support and psychological first aid, and refer patients according to their needs.
People understand less about mental health because it is invisible. If you have a fever or stomach pain, you know that you need to go to the doctor. But not so much in cases of anxiety and depression. I can raise awareness about what to do when you experience mental stress. Mental health support is especially important for Rohingya refugees who suffer from trauma and distress due to violence, persecution, and the fact that they have been displaced from their homes.