Nightmares haunt them
It has been a year since Rana Plaza collapsed but nightmares still haunt the survivors.
Sajal Das survived the collapse with severe injuries.
The 26-year-old tried hard to rebuild his life in the apparel sector but the life-changing injuries and the psychological trauma he had sustained got in the way.
"After the collapse, I made three attempts to work in a garment factory, but could not continue. Neither my health, nor my mental condition would let me work for hours. Whenever I hear a noise, I get startled," said a sighing Sajal.
"Now I have lost interest in the garment factory," he said.
He moved to Dhaka from Sylhet five years ago with the hope of earning a decent living and had joined New Wave Style Ltd, which was on the sixth floor of Rana Plaza, in 2010. His wife Jhuma Das worked in the same factory and she too was injured.
Sajal was injured in his waist while his wife suffered injuries to the head and waist.
"I did not resume work because it is too difficult," Jhuma said.
The couple, who went to the site yesterday on the eve of the first anniversary of the disaster, received Tk 90,000 from foreign retailers.
"Now I want to run a grocery shop, but I don't have the money needed for the start up. I could only save Tk 50,000 so far," said Sajal.
The situation of Sumi Akter, who was rescued 12 hours after the collapse, is pretty similar.
"Now I can't work due to my injuries in the chest and left leg. I stay home," she said. “My siblings are still kids.”
Hailing from Tangail, Sumi went to the site yesterday with the hope of getting some financial assistance.
"The sound of sewing machines, steam gushing out and metal clinking frightens me. Sometimes at night when I close my eyes I see the horrors inside the debris. I have trouble sleeping," she said.
Sumi said she heard that many survivors got compensation from different organisations. "I had also submitted my particulars to many but got no response," she said.
According to a survey conducted by ActionAid Bangladesh, Sajal, Jhuma and Sumi are among the 66 percent survivors of Rana Plaza tragedy who are dealing with hardship.
The survey stated that around 73.7 percent of the survivors are yet to return to work, mainly due to ailments, trauma and employers' unwillingness.
Masum, who worked in the New Wave Style Ltd, said he could not get a job since the incident because no employer agreed to take him in considering his physical challenges.
"My family used to depend on me, now I am dependent on my elderly parents," he said.