2nd Batch Youth Volunteers of UEHRD begin work in Rakhine
The following are the voices of volunteers, residents, and administrators who are collectively helping to rebuild and restore Rakhine State.
A villager shared his memories of the vicious attacks by masked Islamic terrorists. A programme director spoke of the importance of youth in the rebuilding effort. A volunteer told a reporter of his pride in being able to help his countrymen. All remarked on the unity that they said is essential in the recovery.
In the weeks and months since the terrorist attacks of late August, journalists, residents, and volunteers have witnessed a gradual return to normalcy in the region due to efforts by people of all races and ethnicities, from all walks of life and from many parts of the country.
The 2nd Batch Youth Volunteers of the UEHRD Programme arrived in Sittway on 29 November and started to conduct surveys in the villages of Buthidaung and Maungtaw townships in Maungtaw District.
On 1 December, youth volunteers went to Ngakhura in Maungtaw township and Done-thein, Kyarnyo-pyin, Phar-yay villages in Buthidaung Township to collect data. On 2 December, they went to Ngakhura Village in Maungtaw, where Rakhine, Hindus and Islamists co-existed to provide foods.
News teams went to Ngakhura Village, where they saw youth volunteers conduct surveys and provide food, interviewing personnel and locals for this report.
Dr. Min Thein (Director, Department of Relief and Resettlement)
In launching the UEHRD programme, we had two goals. The first is to provide humanitarian assistance to the needy with the cooperation of youths from across the nation. The other is to take part in the implementation of resettling villages which were destroyed, under the support of the governments of Regions and States. In providing assistance, we chose villages — remote areas and areas within reach of a one-day round-trip journey. Now the villages in Maungtaw, including Ngakhura, are to be done in the second batch. Here, local Rakhine people, Hindus and Islamists are living together. They share the same market and school. That being so, we symbolically chose the village as a priority.
In implementing the tasks under the UEHRD programme, we would like to share two pieces of news — one is our desire to show that not only local nationals but also the whole populace across the nation are giving support wholeheartedly, and the other is to show that we are not discriminating, as alleged by some.
Our project has two messages — the whole populace’s stance together with the local nationals and non-segregation between two different believers. We cannot implement national development with a person or an organisation alone. Only if the whole populace collectively cooperates will success be gained. Especially now, it is time for the praiseworthy deeds of youths, the future generation, to wholeheartedly contribute their voluntary labour and withstand all the hardships. I would like to add that youths came to the area with some anxieties in their minds. Therefore, the Department of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement would like to say thanks to them and simultaneously their parents for their kind permission to allow their offspring to come here.
Daw San San Aye (Rakhine National)
I have six family members. Altogether there are over 100 Rakhine nationals. Some left here, so only a few go to school. Now that the UEHRD youths came to provide some rations — rice, edible oil, salt, chillies, potatoes, pulses and others, we can live on them. Now we are unemployed. In the past, we used to sell commodities, but we have nothing left. At the time of the terrorist attacks, they, who were dressed in black masks, exchanged fire with security forces. At 10 pm or so, we rushed into the camp. In the village, Rakhine, Hindus and Bengalis co-existed in peace. We shared with each other. They asked for what they wanted and they in return helped us. Now we live in peace with them, those who remained in the village, without abandoning the village.
U Isuk (Islamist) Ngakhura Village
I live in Kappakaung, east of Ngakhura village. Organisations provided us with rice, cooking oil, pulses, potatoes, powdered milk, onion and etc. And they collected data they wanted. They asked us what we need more. All living here were not involved in terrorist attacks. Those who got involved have escaped. Here, there are Rakhine nationals, Hindus and Muslims like us. We live here in peace. Thanks a lot for helping like this. It is necessary to help us to run businesses for the long-term.
Maw Nul Rau Soon (Hindu)
I am a leader of a 100-household of the Hindu village. In the village, there are 600 Hindus in the village. Youth volunteers provided us with various kinds of food and clothing. My family has 45 members, getting seven units of assistances. They asked whether there are conveniences or not as to collecting the family records. Now they came to give aid for four times. Thanks a lot for providing in such a way. It is convenient for us to live on what we got. But we are still afraid of the dangers of terrorists. For the time being, we have no jobs. It is not convenient for us to find meat for our daily consumption in nearby areas only. In the past it is not difficult for us to find meat and fish. Before now, we earned our living on fishing and hair-cutting. Some went to Malaysia for employment. What we ask is for the authorities to let us do fishing freely. Some people were not enlisted in the family list. If possible, we want the matter to be implemented as soon as possible. Before now, in the village, Hindus, Muslims and Rakhine nationals used to live together. But some now have the feelings of anxiety and doubt.
Mahn Aung Naing Kyi (leader of No. 3 team) UEHRD Youth Volunteer
I live in Mayangone township, Yangon Region, being a Kayin-Bamar national. The objective of applying for the youth programme is that I am greatly interested in the programme, “20 Days of Youth for the People.” That is because we — Hindu, Muslim and Rakhine, belong to the same human race with the same basic values. We respect these same basic values. Being human beings, we applied for taking part in the programme of UEHRD based on our willingness to help with humanitarian aid. We were given training in the camp. We were taught about safety and security, how to do surveys, how to collect data and how to distribute commodities. We were well trained how to avoid sayings, livings and doings which will result in outbreaks of another conflicts. And first aid was also taught to us. —News Team / Photo: Pho Htaung