“The nearest hospital was four hours away”: Senoara’s story

By Hillol Sobhan, Communications and PR Coordinator, CARE Bangladesh | Photos: Asafuzzaman Captain/CARE Bangladesh

I met Senoara at a CARE-run health centre near Balukhali camp in Bangladesh. She is 6-months pregnant with her first child but her face shows no sign of happiness. She looks stiff and sombre.

Senoara - a refugee from Myanmar now living in makeshift camp in Bangladesh

Senoara, her husband, mother and sisters, all had to flee from Myanmar, she can’t remember exactly when they left, just that it was sometime in September. She talks about their last day in Myanmar, “It was very early in the morning and we had to run for our lives. The entire village was on fire. Armed men were constantly firing. They kicked open the doors of some houses. My parents’ house was destroyed. They took my father away. We still don’t know if he’s alive or gone.

It took Senoara and her family fifteen days to reach Bangladesh. They had to walk through hills and jungles only at night to avoid being caught. We sat in silence as I saw the trauma this had all caused on Senoara’s face and the pain of coping with her father’s disappearance.

This was Senoara’s first time at the health centre – I asked about her experience.

Senoara receives medical check up from CARE staff near Balukhali camp in Bangladesh

“My mother heard about this center from others. They said this center is good. They checked my blood pressure, asked me different questions. Then they gave me some medicines. They told me to come again after 15 days. They also advised me not to climb the hills (the camp area is hilly).”

I ask her about the medical facility in Myanmar where she lived. She tells me there was no hospital in her village, only a pharmacy with a village doctor. The nearest hospital was four hours away that required a combination of walking and boat rides to access.

“But here in this camp it’s quite different. The health centre is not far. People are nice. Plus it’s free!”, she added.

In order to serve people like Senoara, CARE has already set up four health centres in different refugee camps. The centres offer services related to pregnancy care, family planning, child health, general consultation, Gender Based Violence (GBV) counselling services, free medicine and contraceptives, referral services with ambulance support. Some of these centres also serve as immunization centres. Currently, CARE has offered services to nearly 20,000 people through these centres.

CARE is thankful to Bangladesh Government, SAFPAC, Glaxo SmithKline and FDSR for collaboration and funding.

Learn more about the Myanmar refugee crisis and how you can help >>