Thanda’s* family has lived in Myanmar for generations. Her father was a highly respected police chief in the community. They’re Muslims and they lived and worked side by side with the Buddhist Rakhine for as long as she can remember.
But on Oct. 22, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. that all changed. Their communities were violently attacked, their homes and villages burned and they were forced to move into camps.
Thanda and her husband became leaders in the same camps Islamic Relief is working in because of her previous respected status in the community. They were now the only voice their community had to speak out and demand rights for themselves.
But 6 months ago when her daughter Hayma* got a serious stomach illness, medical treatment at the mobile clinic wasn’t enough to keep her alive. So the mother and daughter escaped to the city of Yangon to get the life-saving treatment Hayma needed.
Now free from the camps, Thanda is using her status to speak out on behalf of her people.
She holds up a treasured notebook, saying, “This is a book of all those who have passed away, or whose bodies haven’t been found at all, and those who haven’t been given proper burial.”
The handwritten book is full of names—pages upon pages of names of those lost. It’s a living document that is evidence of what has happened to her community. “These are just the ones we know about,” she says.
“Thank you for all the help you have given to keep my people alive, but we must do more and tell more people about what has happened here.”
*Names changed for safety.