A Mother Raises 9 Children in a Refugee Camp

February 11, 2019

·       Al Marzaan is a single mother of nine.

·       Her husband was murdered.

·       She and her children fled their home in fear for their lives.

·       She is a refugee.


Marzaan and her nine children are just 10 of more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees that have fled their homeland in Myanmar for the border of Bangladesh.

“The military attacked my village. They set fire to the brush and shot five people, including my husband Mohammad Shafi,” said Marzaan.“When I arrived in Bangladesh, my only belongings were my nine children. We had nothing.”

The Rohingya are a minority ethnic and religious group of one million people from the Rakhine state of Myanmar. The government has sustained a violent siege against the Rohingya since mid-2017, forcing most to flee the country.

The refugees, who are mostly women and children, arrive in the camps after experiencing severe trauma and often with injuries from gunshots, shrapnel, or land mines. They describe scenes of brutal violence: villages scorched, family members shot and killed, and women and girls raped.

The Rohingya crisis is the fastest growing humanitarian emergency in the world. The refugee camp on the border of Bangladesh is the largest in the world. It is also one of the most dense.

In Myanmar, Marzaan and her husband owned a home and several businesses. They were a happy family.

When the military attacked her village and her husband was shot, she fled with her children. They walked for five days until they arrived at a relative’s house. After a few more days, Marzaan sold the only valuable she had - a pair of gold earrings - to pay for transportation to the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh.

After they were settled in a camp for one year, the heavy monsoons caused a landslide which destroyed their shelter and the meager possessions they had managed to collect.

They had to start over, yet again, in a new camp.

Their current camp does not have electricity. At night, the camp is a scary and dangerous place, especially for women and girls who are the targets of sexual harassment and sex trafficking.

“My daughters were scared to go to the latrine after dark. They were unable to study at night because there was no light in our tent.”said Marzaan.

That is when International Relief Teams stepped in to help.

IRT, in partnership with Concern Worldwide, distributed nearly 4,000 solar lamps to households with single women and children. When Marzaan received her lamp, she said she was relieved. She was always worried about her children’s safety, especially her daughters. The lamp has not only eased her worries, it has allowed her children to study at night and travel safely to the latrine.


Rohingya refugees wait in line for their solar lamps.
A young Rohingya refugee mother receives her solar lamp.


It’s true….something so small, like a solar lamp, can make a huge difference for someone in need!




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