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In August 2017, Ebrahim, with her wife Firdaus, and daughter Jannat Aara left Myanmar under the cover of darkness, around 3:30 a.m. and  now live in one of the temporary Rohingya settlements in Ferozepur Namak Chandeni-2, Nuh, Haryana,  where around 23 Rohingya refugee families live.

Ebrahim’s eldest daughter Jannat was just 45 days old when he had to flee to India. “We were very scared”. “There were many people that had been killed trying to escape the persecution,” — Ebrahim recalls his journey.

As he started his journey to a safe land, he found many other Rohingyas fleeing Myanmar for the same reason — to find themselves alive. The journey was so long.  They had packed  some food such as dried fish, rice and bananas with them in the hope it would be enough to last them for ten days. But there were very big mountains on their way. They had to face many real difficulties to cross those mountains and had to spend 15 days on foot.

When they first arrived in India, they lived in makeshift tents for years. Many other families, including Ebrahim’s lived in these tents, in a state of limbo, not knowing what their future held for them.

 

Under these circumstances, one fateful night, a huge fire burned down their entire makeshift camp, turning all of their belongings into ashes. As soon as we heard about the tragic fire, we left for the location with all the supplies needed to help affected people. The condition of everyone out there was desperate including Ebrahim’s.

He felt helpless as he saw all of his possessions burn while he could do nothing. Our teams provided Ebrahim and other inhabitants with warm clothes, blankets, utensils and ration as immediate relief.

“In Nuh Rohingya camp, most of them are as young as 3 and as old as 75. Some have recently fled their homes in Myanmar, while others have been displaced for decades.”

We could also construct a ‘smile-home’ for Ebrahim to live and a ‘smile-shop’ for making a living. “Now I’m living here happily and I am very pleased and thankful to Miles2Smile foundation and all the locals here for showing kindness and allowing me to live temporarily on their land. I also want to thank all of their team members for working tirelessly to restore our houses and bring back smiles on our faces in a time when we were all so discouraged by the circumstances,” says Ebrahim.

The Miles2Smile foundation did everything it could to meet their needs and put smiles back on the faces.

We gave Ebrahim groceries also to kick-start his business to create an economic equilibrium that could sustain the requirements of both Ebrahim and the other consumer residents of the camp.  Today, he is earning a dignified income through this shop.

Both of his daughters are also attending classes regularly at ‘Fatima-al-Fihri’ learning center. It’s an early childhood development program by Miles2Smile foundation, modelled on play based learning for primary education of the Rohingya kids.

Fatima-al-Fihri learning center gives children a chance to enjoy their childhood — with the help of play based learning

 

Play is a huge part of that recovery, and for  kids like Tasneem & Jannat, it’s been vital. “Play is like medicine for my children,” Ebrahim explains. “For most children, it’s fun to play—but for my children, it’s a need.” 

Both of the girls are benefitting from attending Fatima-al-Fihri learning center. “At the beginning they were shy and wouldn’t talk to anyone,” Khushboo, our teacher at the children’s learning center, explains. “Tasneem used to put her chair next to the door and wait there alone. It took a month, but they started to interact.” Today the girls clap along to songs, and shout answers to teachers’ questions and play with other children. You can watch them doing fun and learning here. 

 

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Miles2Smile is a non-profit organization registered under Section-8 of the Companies Act 2013 (18 of 2013) and Rule 8-Companies (Incorporation) Rules, 2014. The organization has its headquarter in New Delhi. The prime working area of the organization is relief & rehabilitation of distressed individuals or groups and educational upliftment of the marginalized and underprivileged.

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