Helping older refugees gain independence – Gura’s story
Age-Friendly Spaces in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, run by our partner HelpAge International, have been a lifeline for older Rohingya refugees like Gura, who arrived at the world’s largest refugee camp with nothing. Gura told us about the support he’s received from an Age-Friendly Space.
Gura, 90, was forced to flee his home and all his belongings in 2017. There were frequent military raids and people were evicted from their homes, tortured, raped and killed. Unable to continue living under this violence and oppression, Gura and his family fled Myanmar. Gura was wrapped in a blanket and carried on the shoulders of his family members until they reached the Bangladesh border. The starving family had to live in open fields at first, relying on the local host community to provide them with food and water.
Gura’s son and daughter are both married and Gura now lives with his son’s family, being cared for by his daughter-in-law. He has multiple health conditions and when he arrived he was unable to do anything by himself because he was so weak. An Age Friendly Space in the refugee camp built an age-friendly toilet for him next to where he now lives, alleviating some of his most immediate needs.
Gura said: “The support from the Age Friendly Space has given me a lot of things, including clothes, assistive aids like walking sticks and glasses, a prayer mat, mattress, blanket and hygiene kits during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve also received medical treatment, including medication, counselling for mental health, physiotherapy, nutritious meals and regular home check-ups. I feel much healthier than before, and try to do things on my own, something that totally impossible before.”
Gura told us that because of the overcrowded population and harsh environment of the refugee camp, he was struggling with shortness of breath and his health conditions worsened in the COVID-19 lockdowns. Local workers from the Age Friendly Space provided additional services to older people needing treatment, visiting door to door to ensure their needs were met.
Gura’s daughter-in-law, Mrs Nuran, said:
“I’ve been caring for my father-in-law for 18 years and since I arrived in the refugee camp I’ve learned lots from attending care-giver training. We discuss caring for older people and creating an environment which prevents any kind of violence against older people. Follow-up visits and referral activities have brought about positive changes in the camp community.”
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