Editor’s Note: Rohingya Refugee Series


With the photo essay this week

from Nihab Rahman, you may begin to notice that we’re spending several weeks of our once-per-week publishing schedule on stories connected to the lives of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar (also called Burma) who have fled to Bangladesh, where they are living in refugee camps. Next week we will feature the fourth and final story in this series, adding Joel Carillet’s voice to that of Nihab and of Scott Will, whose journal-style articles opened the series.

As this little series has taken shape, we’ve realized it could be helpful to offer our dear readers a note of explanation to help guide you through the series and explain why we decided to dedicate so much time to it.

“Refugee” can be a loaded word in our present moment of human life, a word equally loathed and loved, a word eliciting fear and anger and compassion and sympathy, a word used to name people who have left their homelands for varied and complicated reasons that may or may not be widely understood or supported. Equally mysterious and unknown is the term “refugee camp.” What exactly are these places we hear about but rarely enter into through the stories that mention them in passing?

Part of our goal here at Culture Keeper is to offer you food for thought, and courtesy of our contributors, we have happened into an opportunity to offer you some varied perspectives on life in a few particular refugee camps located in Bangladesh that have become temporary homes for a specific people group who have found themselves homeless.

In Scott’s articles (Part 1 and Part 2) , we expect that you dear readers who reside predominantly in Western-culture countries may find a protagonist you can relate to, someone with skills to be shared in helping people in need. With Scott as an amiable and compassionate guide, we all get to enter a world unknown to us and see what questions emerge as we begin to meet individual people who are members of “that people group that’s been making the news in complex events taking place somewhere in Asia.”

Then Nihab’s article takes us a step further. While he is not part of the Rohingya people group, he is Bangladeshi, and he is doing long-standing work in the refugee camps to which the Rohingya have fled. So we value what we can glean from his vantage point as something more of an insider-observer to events and daily life in his part of the world.

Finally, next week we will publish an article by photojournalist and writer Joel Carillet, who brings us something of an expert viewpoint to wrap up our series. (We’ll add the link here when the article is live!) Joel is a student of the world who travels, photographs, and reports widely. He too spent time among the Rohingya in Bangladesh, and we are glad for the ways his reflection pushes us more deeply into the serious issues at stake.

Our series is far from exhaustive. For example, we would have loved to have included the voice of the Rohingya themselves, but that has not been possible at this time. However, as is the hope with the articles we bring you every week here at Culture Keeper, we hope that the articles of this series will introduce you to something new that might help you somehow as you in good will wrestle to discover how to be the best neighbor and citizen you can be.

                                                                      - Kami L. Rice, Editor