From adversity to safety: Hasina finds solace in Shantikhana

Hasina Begum sitting in Women and Girls’ Safe Space (WGSS), popularly known as Shantikhana
19 May, 2021

Hasina Begum is a Rohingya Refugee, who came to Bangladesh to seek refuge from the adverse life-threatening situations she was facing in Myanmar. She lost her home, and escaped the horrific reality through many challenges with a hope to find safety and shelter in Bangladesh. She felt bad that she could not stay in her motherland.

After coming to Bangladesh, she found no place to stay, found no food to eat, not even to feed her children. “I had to spend days and nights in the streets. Even though my little ones cried, I couldn't feed them.” she said.  Finally, after much struggle, she found shelter in Camp 16 and has been living here with her children since then.

Soon after arriving in camp 16, one day a CARE female staff in Shantikhana (Women and Girls’ Safe Space) visited her house. She also went around and talked to a few other women, introduced Shantikhana, explained what is done there, and encouraged the women to come. Soon after, some of the women decided to visit and upon arriving, they received a warm welcome from the Apas [Counselor and Case Worker]. “Ever since, whenever I feel sad, I go to Shantikhana and talk to the Apas. They help me to get rid of my frustration and stress. I can talk about the dreams that haunt me, the horrors that we witnessed and share any other trouble that causes mental distress to me. Many times when we need a lot of help and we go to them, they extend a helping hand.” said Hasina. The Apas in Shantikhana also conduct awareness raising sessions on many issues including child marriage, polygamy, violence against women and many more. Even during the crisis period of the pandemic, the Apas in Shantikhana continue to provide support. They shared awareness messages and gave ideas on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Today, I feel very grateful. I never imagined that I would get so much help and support after coming to Bangladesh. I hope and pray that we continue to live a healthy and beautiful life with my husband and child.” Hasina said with hope.

About the initiative:

Currently CARE Bangladesh directly implements 12 Women Girls safe (WGSS) in Ukhiya Subdistrict of Cox’s Bazar district, Bangladesh. The main aim of establishment of women and girls’ safe spaces (WGSS) has emerged as a key strategy for the protection and empowerment of women and girls affected in mass exodus of the Rohingya Refugees. A safe space is a place where women and girls feel physically and emotionally safe where they socialize and re-build their social networks, receive social support, and acquire contextually relevant skills. Access safe and non-stigmatizing multi-sectorial GBV response services (psychosocial, legal, and medical etc.) receive information on issues relating to women’s rights, health, and services.  

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