30-Hour Famine

Surviving in Troubled Waters

This is Erphan. He’s 10 years old and he comes from Myanmar.
He should be in school.
He should be playing with his friends.
He should be enjoying his childhood.

Instead he’s in a refugee camp in Bangladesh with his mother, father and sister after fleeing violence in his home country.

On the right is Erphan’s little sister Minara and their mother Jaheda. Minara was born at a stranger’s house as they fled the violence in Myanmar.

“A woman helped me,” Jaheda says. “By the mercy of God, I had no problem.”

But with no food for herself, Jaheda found it difficult to breastfeed her new baby.

“Day by day she was getting tinier,” says the 30-year-old mother. “When I arrived [at the refugee camp], she was about to die.”

“People were telling me, ‘Your daughter will not live.’ I thought, ‘Am I going to lose my baby?”

Erphan keenly remembers those dark days. “She was tiny,” he recalls sadly. “She wasn’t eating anything. She used to stay inside all day.”

To address malnutrition among refugees at the camp, World Vision opened malnutrition prevention and treatment centres to reach at-risk children like Minara. Initially, World Vision sent trained community workers door-to-door to find vulnerable children like Minara.

“A facilitator came to our home and registered her here,” says Jaheda. “That’s why I brought her to the centre. She was so tiny. She suffered disease a lot. She didn’t like to eat.”

Minara was assessed as having moderate acute malnutrition and given nutritious, high-energy food packs. Today, several visits to the centre later, Minara is a different child—happy, healthy, and playful.

However, despite Minara’s improving health, Erphan’s family situation is still dire. His father suffers from kidney disease and has been in and out of the hospital.

Erphan is now the breadwinner for the family. “My son collects bottles from the camp and gets some money,” says Jaheda.

Erphan is small for a 10-year-old but speaks like someone much older. Camp life has forced him to grow up fast, finding bottles to sell in drainage ditches and along the road.

 “I sell them at the market,” he says. “When we have no food, I go.”

When he’s sold the bottles, Erphan purchases food for the family—dried peas and vegetables.

 “I do it by myself,” he says. “I have no friends.”

In Myanmar, Erphan had many boys to play with.

“I haven’t seen them since we came,” he says. “I don’t know where they are.”

With little else in his life, Erphan’s life now revolves around taking care of his family, especially his beloved little sister.

And because of Erphan’s efforts, little Minara can continue to stay healthy and fed.

This is not the life Erphan chose, or deserves.

But in spite of it all, he still stepped up to help his family.

He gives them strength and what they need to keep going on.

And he’s not giving up now.

That’s what makes him a survivor and a fighter!

A World Vision intervention saved Minara from malnutrition and illness.

Minara was born at a stranger’s house as they fled the violence in Myanmar.

“A woman helped me,” Jaheda says. “By the mercy of God, I had no problem.”

But with no food for herself, Jaheda found it difficult to breastfeed her new baby.

“Day by day she was getting tinier,” says the 30-year-old mother. “When I arrived [at the refugee camp], she was about to die.”

“People were telling me, ‘Your daughter will not live.’ I thought, ‘Am I going to lose my baby?”

Erphan keenly remembers those dark days. “She was tiny,” he recalls sadly. “She wasn’t eating anything. She used to stay inside all day.”

To address malnutrition among refugees at the camp, World Vision opened malnutrition prevention and treatment centres to reach at-risk children like Minara. Initially, World Vision sent trained community workers door-to-door to find vulnerable children like Minara. 

“A facilitator came to our home and registered her here,” says Jaheda. “That’s why I brought her to the centre. She was so tiny. She suffered disease a lot. She didn’t like to eat.”

Minara was assessed as having moderate acute malnutrition and given nutritious, high-energy food packs. Today, several visits to the centre later, Minara is a different child—happy, healthy, and playful.

However, despite Minara’s improving health, Erphan’s family situation is still dire. His father suffers from kidney disease and has been in and out of the hospital.

Erphan is now the breadwinner for the family. “My son collects bottles from the camp and gets some money,” says Jaheda.

Erphan is small for a 10-year-old but speaks like someone much older. Camp life has forced him to grow up fast, finding bottles to sell in drainage ditches and along the road.

 “I sell them at the market,” he says. “When we have no food, I go.”

When he’s sold the bottles, Erphan purchases food for the family—dried peas and vegetables.

 “I do it by myself,” he says. “I have no friends.”

In Myanmar, Erphan had many boys to play with.

“I haven’t seen them since we came,” he says. “I don’t know where they are.” 

With little else in his life, Erphan’s life now revolves around taking care of his family, especially his beloved little sister.

And because of Erphan’s efforts, little Minara can continue to stay healthy and fed.

This is not the life Erphan chose, or deserves.

But in spite of it all, he still stepped up to help his family.

He gives them strength and what they need to keep going on.

And he’s not giving up now.

That’s what makes him a survivor and a fighter!

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