As members of our Humanitarian Response Team trek through the hilly settlements of Bangladesh, treating sick and traumatized Rohingya refugees, they hear horrible stories. Entire communities have been set ablaze, with women and children suffering terribly as they're caught in the crosshairs of violence.
Theresa Wood, a Medical Teams nurse, has spent nearly three weeks in Bangladesh helping the refugees. Here she shares some of the difficult stories she's heard.
Nurse Theresa Wood cares for a mother and baby at Medical Teams' diarrhea management clinic at the Kutupalong settlement in Bangladesh.
A woman with a white head scarf was visiting an elderly woman lying on a hospital bed, telling what happened to her family. She grabbed my interpreter and wanted to share with me as well. Two other women joined us.
She started by saying she will never return to Myanmar.
“They can kill me here. They cannot force me to go back,” she said.
She shared how a helicopter landed in her village. Many men came out of the helicopter and attacked. Hundreds of men were rounded up and slaughtered. They were tortured first. Their fingernails were ripped off and their beards were burned.
The woman watched as her husband, along with many other men of the village, were lined up and had “their heads chopped off with a large, sharp knife."
The village was lit on fire. Babies were grabbed by the legs and thrown into the fire. The woman's parents were murdered. The bad men came to get her girls who would be taken to be raped. But she was able to flee with her five daughters and four sons. They made it safely to Bangladesh. Tears were streaming down her face as she shared her story.
Another woman wearing a beautiful black head covering was “very wealthy” in Myanmar, she said. She had a “beautiful home" with her husband. He was very influential in his community because he was a religious leader. When the bad men came, they tortured and murdered him “first, so they could get our home,” she said.
“I have nothing now. I wore these clothes because they are comfortable. I am so ashamed. I was beautiful before, but I will never marry again," she said. "I cannot even cover my face. I do not even have the money to buy long sleeves to cover my arms."
She entered the camp 10 days ago. She ran barefoot with her baby for many kilometers through the jungle and over many hills. She cut up her feet while on the journey. She just kept saying how ashamed she was.
The woman in the burgundy head covering was silent. I do not know her story, but she joined with the others telling me to “tell people about it. They must know what is happening."
We were all crying. I put my arms around the three women and held and rocked them for a long time. They all snuggled in like little children. I was thankful I am tall and have arms long enough to hold three beautiful, strong women.
God help them.
Theresa and her team are in Bangladesh because of your generous support. To continue helping the Rohingya refugees, donate now and learn more so you can spread the word about the fastest-growing refugee crisis in the world.