Unlike the hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees who recently crossed the border, Yasmin has spent her entire life in a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Since the 1970s, and before the recent surge of refugees, nearly one million Rohingya fled Myanmar because of widespread persecution. Yasmin’s father was one of them.

More than 25 years ago, to escape the violence, her father became a refugee in Nayapara, one of two government-controlled refugee camps in Bangladesh. He found work outside the camp as a farmer and fell in love with a Bengali woman. They married, built a home in the camp, and had five children.

To better provide for his family and to pay the children’s school fees, Yasmin’s father moved to Malaysia to work as a laborer. “He wanted me to go to school and hoped that I would become a doctor,” she explained. Three years ago, when Yasmin was in 9th grade, her father died unexpectedly in Malaysia. No longer able to pay their fees, all five children were forced to drop out of school. “When he died, my hope died with him,” Yasmin said.

Then, in mid-November, when Medical Teams’ Community Health Worker program began in Nayapara, she jumped at the chance to join. “I want to help others with the education I do have – being a Community Health Worker allows me to do that.”

The Nayapara refugee camp in Bangladesh, where Yasmin has worked as a community health worker

The Nayapara refugee camp in Bangladesh.

Each Community Health Worker is equipped to teach members of their own community about water, sanitation, and hygiene, and to help stop disease outbreaks such as measles and diphtheria by identifying and referring patients to the nearest clinic. One of 21 health workers in Nayapara, Yasmin and her colleagues visit over 1,000 households a week. With thousands of people living in a confined space, and with limited access to proper sanitation, this program is vital to the health of the community.

The stipend Yasmin earns as a Community Health Worker will allow her to go back to school next year. She hopes to one day become a teacher. As a Community Health Worker, she has a great start!

Learn more about the Rohingya refugee crisis and how you can help. You can make an impact on the lives of thousands of Rohingya refugees and help people like Yasmin bring love and lasting health to their community.

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