Rohingya Relocation: Life getting better in Bhasan Char
Khaleda Begum had little to do other than helping her mother with household chores. The 17-year-old would spend most of her time indoors, back at the Rohingya camp in Cox's Bazar.
Being from a conservative family, she had not expected her life to change much but surprisingly it did, and it did for the better.
Khaleda has been learning to tailor dresses and operate sewing machines since her arrival at Bhasan Char. She is feeling a drive within herself to become solvent.
"At least I've got something to do now. I will be able to make my own dresses and earn in the future by doing it for others," she told this correspondent at the island, around 40km off Noakhali, a couple of days ago.
Like Khaleda, Noor Jahan is also learning tailoring and sewing.
"In the last four days I have learned how to cut blouse pieces. I'm also learning sewing. It's exciting. I want to learn how to make other dresses too," she said.
Khaleda, Jahan and other Rohingya women, who have recently been relocated to the island from the refugee camp in Cox's Bazar, are taking tailoring and sewing lessons from two lady trainers.
Trainer Ruhani Taskin said the Rohingya women have great interest in their work and that they were quick learners.
These activities are part of a project taken up by the Bangladesh government to train Rohingya men and women on the island on various activities, like sewing, poultry rearing, cattle rearing and vegetables farming.
Bangladesh Rural Development Board has been providing various training to the Rohingyas to ensure their livelihood.
Officials said all the adult males and females who have the capability to work would be given training in phases.
"Currently, we are providing training to five batches. Each batch has 50 people and they will be trained for five days," Shankar Kumar Paul, project director of BRDB, told The Daily Star.
He said an assessment would be done after the basic training to find out which profession suited a trainee. Then extensive training will be provided to them.
Ijjat Ullah, a Rohingya man, was learning how to cultivate land and grow vegetables in a scientific way.
"There is huge land. If we get land, we can cultivate our own vegetables and can sell them too," Ijjat Ullah said adding that he would like to take training on fishing too.
He said there were 120 ponds and two big lakes at Bhasan Char and those can be used for fishing.
The BRDB started the training activities on January 27.
A total of 39 NGOs are working at the island. Some are giving poultry assistance while some farming training.
AA Mamun Chowdhury, project director of Ashrayan Project-3, official name of the Bhasan Char project, said a coordinated effort was needed among the NGOs so that the work could be done smoothly.
"The government and various NGOs are working to ensure the Rohingyas' livelihood. The more organised the work is, the more beneficial it will be for the Rohingyas," he added.
Yesterday, the third batch of Rohingyas -- 1,466 -- reached Bhasan Char, while 1,776 had arrived on Friday.
The people with luggage, chickens, ducks, goats, solar panels, food and other belongings had left in ships from Chattogram around 9:00am. They were given breakfast and lunch on the way.
Four ships carrying the third batch of Rohingyas arrived at Bhasan char around noon.