A week after celebrating Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding in Windsor, Priyanka Chopra flew across the pond to a refugees in Bangladesh. The former Bazaar cover star visited the Rohingya children who are being sheltered in Cox’s Bazar.
“I’m in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh today for a field visit with UNICEF, to one of the largest refugee camps in the world,” the Bollywood actress writes on her Instagram. “In the second half of 2017, the world saw horrific images from the Rakhine State of Myanmar (Burma). This violence drove nearly 700,000 Rohingya across the border into Bangladesh - 60% are children! Many months later they are still highly vulnerable, living in overcrowded camps with no idea when or where they will ever belong...even worse, when they will get their next meal. AND...as they finally start to settle and feel a sense of safety, monsoon season looms...threatening to destroy all that they’ve built so far. This is an entire generation of children that have no future in sight. Through their smiles I could see the vacancy in their eyes. These children are at the forefront of this humanitarian crisis, and they desperately need our help. The world needs to care. We need to care. These kids are our future.”
Chopra continued to share snaps of her journey, profiling some of the children we met along the way and highlighting the good work The United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) are doing to make a better life for these refugees.
“These Child Friendly Spaces created by @unicef give kids access to art, music, dance, sport, and counselling etc. The space has often proved to be very therapeutic, helping these kids deal with the horrific situations they faced.. the @unicef aid workers work tirelessly to make sure these children find their spirit again.”
I was quite literally knocked off my feet...a spontaneous, unfiltered moment with these amazing kids, who I spent a couple of hours with laughing and learning. It was as if for those few hours we all forgot where we were, and let ourselves be kids again (me included). One of the last stops on my field visit was at a @unicef Learning Center in the Balukhali Camp. Here, children are given a basic education of math, English, and Burmese through a colorful and engaging curriculum of song, drama, role playing. The age of the children in this classroom ranges between 7-10 years old, and for many of these kids this is their first school experience. There are over 400,000 children at these camps, but currently only 1/3 have access to education because of the lack of space and teachers. Given everything these kids have been through, their was no shortage of excitement or hope when I asked the kids what they wanted to be when they grow up. Whether it be a journalist, doctor, school teacher, or in the military, receiving an education means they’re getting a chance to create the future they aspire for themselves. The children are also taught basic hygiene, which is very important in a camp such as this, because of wide spread diseases like cholera and watery diarrhoea. Basics, like how to properly wash your hands, has actually helped to significantly reduce illnesses, and what’s amazing is that these kids go home and teach their parents and siblings the good health practices they’ve learned. Its initiatives like this that are setting these kids up for a brighter future. As I sit amongst them, singing along, the lyrics have more meaning than ever... “deep in my heart, I still believe, we shall overcome one day! .” I know they will. For those who’ve asked how they can contribute, here’s the answer... help every child get an education by logging on to www.supportunicef.org #childrenuprooted @unicef @unicefbangladesh
Priyanka Chopra was appointed as UNICEF's global goodwill ambassador for Child Rights in 2016 and has made regular trips to visit refugee camps across the Middle East and Asia.