Priyanka Chopra marvels at dichotomy of life at refugee camps

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Dhaka, May 24 (IANS) Actress and global Unicef Goodwill Ambassador for Child Rights Priyanka Chopra, who is on a field visit here, has been meeting women and children at the Rohingya refugee camps. Their stories remind her of the dichotomy of life, and she pondered upon how women find their ‘house of peace’ in the harsh conditions.

During the visit, Priyanka measured nutritional value for babies. She said the need for proper health and nutrition takes centrestage for the people here.

Priyanka on Wednesday night took to her Instagram stories. She was seen measuring a baby’s MUAC, a process where the child’s middle upper arm is measured to ascertain their nutrition level.

She later uploaded several photographs and videos.

“This is little Shohida (8-months-old), who stole my heart with her infectious smile. It’s a poignant reminder of the dichotomy of life…here she was getting all the help she needed, when just a few months before, her mother, Alada (who was only 19 years old at the time) walked for 15 days, while 6 months pregnant with her, to get across the border. It shows us that there is hope left in this world.

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“When you are dealing with a mass exodus of thousands of people, who have been displaced from their homes and are desperate for refuge, the need for proper health and nutrition takes centre stage, especially for women and children,” she wrote alongside the photographs.

The actress said she pointed at solutions that Unicef and their partners develop to deal with the most dire and pressing situations and issues.

“It all begins with the MUAC, a process where the child’s middle upper arm is measured to ascertain their nutrition level. From there, aids create a program for the child and a nutrient rich, ready-to-eat peanut paste is portioned out for each child based on the severity of malnutrition,” she said.

Priyanka said that at the nutrition centre at the Jamtoli camp in Cox’s Bazar, mothers are also taught basic hygiene and good health practices.

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The National Award-winning actress also visited a “women friendly space” at the camp, and said she was instantly struck by a certain calmness.

“These camps are loud and crowded, actually overcrowded, and so to find a quiet oasis, in this case a small hut with a tarp roof and thatched bamboo walls, is surprising. But for the girls in this camp, this is what they call their ‘house of peace’,” Priyanka wrote.

She described it as a place to interact with friends, seek counselling, learn about hygiene, or learn life skills like art and music.

“There are approx 50 women-friendly Spaces in the camps, just like this one, that on any given day see 50-70 Rohingya girls seeking these safe havens. The centers open at 9 a.m., but there is seldom a day when the women are not lined up early, waiting for the doors to open,” she added.

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Priyanka says even if their lives are safer at the camps, the girls are “still struggling”.

“They know that with an education they can get a job and create better lives for their family, like buying protein for their meals, and clean drinking water. It’s literally as basic as that,” she added.

–IANS

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