Jamila has lived through the horror of losing a child in a way that no human being should have to endure. This World Refugee Day, her story is a painful reminder that millions are forced to seek refuge to survive, but not everyone finds peace.
“I came to Bangladesh in 2017, at the peak of the crisis, to escape the violence that broke out in our village. Before the crisis, I had a family, two beautiful sons and a daughter. On the day the soldiers surrounded our village, they ripped apart our world. By the evening, we were surrounded by death, terror and the smell of our village burning. We had to flee in the darkness of the night with those that survived.
I had no time to look back and watch my house engulfed by fire. I did not shed tears or mourn for our deceased because we were barely functioning. Fear is what drove us to find safety. We were just trying not to get killed.
I left with only the clothes on my back; all our belongings were burned during the siege. But that is not what keeps me up at night.
I had a beautiful daughter who was six months pregnant. I was meant to be a grandmother again. That was taken away from me when the soldiers dragged me from my home. They hit me till I bled. I was badly injured. But my daughter, she was raped.
Watching my pregnant daughter get raped in front of me is the most harrowing thing a mother can go through. I was also unable to save my elderly mother-in-law, who died when they set our home on fire. I couldn’t sleep for two weeks after escaping Myanmar. I would relive everything that happened that day, unable to get the image out of my head of my child being raped and killed.
I have flashbacks to this day and suffer with mental trauma. At my age it is hard to bear the pain I had to endure.
We lived through the fear of death. Even when I struggled to move with my injuries my only hope was to reach a boat and survive. It took us four days to reach Bangladesh.
I have been grateful ever since that we were able to find refuge. I lost my daughter and my grandchild that day, but I was lucky that some of my family survived. My husband is still with me and my son who survived the attack lives in another camp, in Cox’s Bazaar. We were able to save one of the grandchildren of my late daughter. So I am grateful for what I have left, and for the relative safety of this country that I am currently calling home.”