By Harihar Swarup
At 23, Khushi has helped deliver around 5,000 babies.
She has gained recognition as a midwife thanks to her experience working in health centers at refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. But Khushi is a woman on a mission; she wants to be a lawyer. She wants to learn human rights, educate her community and empower women.
This is her story. In the camp, education is available only till grade five. I did not want to stop there. I wanted to study more. I saw people working in the camps—they were different organizations. They were helping people; speaking in English. This inspired me. Initially, I was shy. But I realized that if I study more, I will be able to help more people.
So I sought the help of my teacher, a Bangladeshi national, to get admitted to a Bangladeshi school. They helped me to gain a Bangladeshi identity. Rohingyas are not allowed to step out of the camp. At the time, though, the influx of refugees had not happened. And so I was admitted to a Bangladeshi school, into grade six. I completed grade six and seven. The school was about an hour away.
In the meantime, my aunty went to live in Canada as part of a UN resettlement programme. She married a Bangladeshi. So for a while, lived with her relatives in Cox’s Bazar. Being educated till class seven was not enough for me. So I enrolled in a higher secondary school; I taught pre—KG students to pay my fees.
My parents, especially my father were not all that supportive. My father wanted to marry me off. But my mother stood her grounds and often got beaten. She would sell a portion of the supplies we got to help pay my fees. My main aim was, and is, to support other women in my community. I wanted to become a lawyer – I still do—and so I enrolled in Cox’s Bazar international University to study law.
So many questions would rise in my mind — my community is human like all others, then why are they being treated differently? Why are they leading such a life?
I was doing well in law school. But, as I was about to start term three, my identity was revealed and I was suspended. I was naïve. A researcher was writing an article about the plight of the Rohingya camp and I spoke about the plight of women.
The article on my story became viral on line and my identity was revealed. This was in June, 2019. I started getting a lot of rape and death threats. People even threatened to throw acid on me if I continued to study. Members of my community made rude comments about me and my family. They assaulted my character.
My life has been in limbo; my dream to become a lawyer is paused. But I continued to do social work. I am 23 today. Women need to be empowered. A lot of women know nothing about family planning; they don’t know how to take initiative about it either. Women need to be made aware of different issues they face. They keep giving births and, a lot of times, without the help of medical professionals. They get infected and suffer. They do not need to suffer. (IPA Service)