“Hoping That the Rohingya Children Grow up Without Suffering..”
January 22, 2019: Second day of the visit to the Rohingya Refugee Camp at Cox’s Bazaar, Bangladesh
On the second day of the visit to the Rohingya Refugee Camp, JTS distributed 100,000 gas stoves to the refugees.
On October 2017 and January 2018, JTS consecutively distributed provisions, mosquito nets, and blankets to the Rohingya refugees and received an assistance request from the local UN (United Nations) and WFP (World Food Programme) for gas stoves to solve the fuel supply scarcity. Consequently, JTS placed an order for 100,000 gas stoves and proceeded to distribute them as of January 22, 2019 to the Rohingya refugees at the Kutupalong Refugee Camp.
Out of 100,000 units of gas stoves distributed to the Rohingya refugees, 32,000 units were provided by the Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), 23,000 units were provided by JTS America, and 45,000 units were provided by JTS Korea along with shipping expenses. After the refugees obtain a safety certification for operating gas stoves, the affiliated organization of the UN and WFP will distribute the gas stoves to the refugees.
JTS members departed at 10:30 AM from lodging located in Cox’s Bazaar to the refugee camp. The Chairman of KOICA, Lee Mi-kyung and 10 other members joined the crew.
The group drove for 90 minutes to the LPG venue located in Camp 11 and arrived at 12 PM. Refugees who were to receive the gas stoves that day were taking a safety training from WFP worders inside the building.
The handover ceremony began with congratulatory messages from representatives of various organizations: the president of International Organization for Migration (IOM) representative, the general manager of WFP Bangladesh, the chief director of KOICA Mi-kyung Lee, JTS Chairman Venerable Pomnyun Sunim, and the director of the Bangladesh refugee relief organization.
“Thanks to the gas stoves provided by JTS and KOICA, the refugees are able to enjoy safer and better lives. We need to provide continuous support to resolve various issues the refugees face.” -IOM Representative
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ven. Pomnyun Sunim, a prominent spiritual leader in South Korea, for attending the handover ceremony. This handover event was made possible by the hard work of JTS President, Gena Park and the support of WFP Chief Peter Guest. The gas stoves are absolutely necessary to the refugees. There used to be a forest here. However, because the trees were cut down for fuel, the forest has vanished. Many women had to travel long distances to procure wood, but they no longer need to. People need to eat every day. Once the gas stoves are distributed, the lives of refugees will improve significantly as they will be able to cook their meals every day. I would like to thank JTS from the bottom of my heart.” – General Manager of WFP Bangladesh
“Providing 100,000 gas stoves to the refugees is very important. The Bangladeshi government made a courageous decision to accept the Rohingya refugees into the country because it understood the hardships that the refugees were experiencing. However, Bangladesh had to pay a price both environmentally and economically by the influx of almost a million refugees. Therefore, I cannot thank JTS, WFP, and KOICA enough for providing essential resources. It is important that such support is provided consistently during the time the refugees are living here.
I would like to give a special thanks to Ven. Pomnyun Sunim for emphasizing the importance of children’s education. We urge you not to forget about these children. The wounds that these refugees received before they crossed the border is greater than you could ever imagine. I would like to ask you for continuous support to help them recover from their painful experiences.” – Director of Bangladesh Refugee Relief
After listening to the speeches of each representative, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim expressed gratitude to everyone who made the handover ceremony possible. He also suggested that everyone at the ceremony cooperate together to help the refugee children grow up free of suffering.
“Everyone wants to live a happy and safe life, but sometimes it is not possible. We sometimes have experience accidents due to a natural disaster or a war. What distinguishes us humans from animals under is that we help each other in times of trouble.
The Rohingyas are suffering from great misfortune regardless of whether they did anything wrong. I think it is very important for people to help one another in times of need. This is the core teaching of all religions.
I have visited several other refugee camps in the past. I felt relieved to find that this refugee camp meets the minimum requirements for adequate living conditions. This was possible thanks to several factors. First, the Bangladeshi government was open-minded about accepting the refugees. Secondly, UN organizations such as WFP, IOM, and UNICEF have worked hard to take good care of the refugees. I would like to thank various NGOs for providing the gas stoves without hesitation despite the sudden request. Also, I would like to thank Chairman of KOICA, Mi-kyung Lee along with the staff for visiting the refugee camp.
Donating the gas stoves may seem like a small gift. However, we are pleased to hear that the gas stoves will be helpful to the refugees in many ways. I would like to extend special thanks to WPF Chief Peter Guest and JTS President Gena Park for coming up with the idea and carrying out this project.
The small efforts of coming up with a good idea and executing it have led to big achievements. I hope we can all continue to work together to help the refugees lead safer and happier lives.
I would like to reiterate that children need to grow up without suffering. Whatever the situation they are in, they need receive an education. I hope we can provide them with ample nutrition so they can grow up healthy and the opportunity to learn in a timely manner. I would like to express my sincere thanks to everyone to have contributed to making this possible.”
All the participants seemed to appreciate Ven. Pomnyun Sunim’s congratulatory speech. Afterwards, the handover ceremony of the 100,000 gas stoves commenced.
The guests handed out the has stoves one by one as the refugees came onto the stage. Ven. Pomnyun Sunim, actor Jo In-sung, and screenwriter Noh Hee-Kyung also handed out the gas stoves and took commemorative photos.
JTS President Gena Park tested whether the gas stove lit up properly. As soon as she turned the lever, it lit up with a “click” sound, and everyone laughed and applauded.
Later, a WFP worker explained in detail about the electronic system based on which the refugees are able to obtain provisions using proof of identification cards and fingerprint recognition. It was impressive to see such advanced technology being used for distributing provisions to the refugees.
After successfully wrapping up the handover ceremony, everyone had lunch at the WFP distribution hub. During lunch, WFP Chief Peter Guest briefly went over the current situation of the refugee camp and future plans on how to support the refugees.
In the afternoon, the guests visited the grocery store at the refugee camp operated by the WFP to take a close look of how provisions are being distributed.
All the refugees are issued check cards. At the food store, there is an electronic device which are used to validate the identity of the each refugee using the check card. A total of 18 different food items are displayed throughout the store, and receipts are automatically printed when the refugees select the food items they want. There are two additional stores located nearby so that the stores compete to provide better service to the refugees.
The Kutupalong Refugee Camp that the JTS members visited is the biggest camp where 630,000 of the 880,000 Rohingya refugees reside. JTS members later headed to the viewpoint where they were able to see the entire Kutupalong Refugee Camp.
When they reached the top of the hill, the rising mountains of Myanmar came into view. JTS members became emotional thinking of the refugees who must yearn for their families left behind in their hometown whenever they saw this view.
We asked the actor Jo In-sung how he felt looking at the view of the refugee camp from the hill.
“I was not able to look around in every corner of the camps because of human rights issues. Even though I did not have a chance to talk a lot with them, I felt relieved to know that they are being protected by many relief organizations. However, I think we need to provide them with continuous care and support. My visit here made me think about what I can do to help the refugees and other people in need.
More than anything, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to providing 100,000 gas stoves to the Rohingya refugees today.”
We also asked the screenwriter Noh Hee-kyung Noh what she felt during her visit to the refugee camp.
“When I first arrived here, I was happy to see that the camp was well maintained. The children at the learning center looked happy. However, after walking around the entire refugee camp, I was surprised by the vast number of refugees and the huge scale of the refugee camp. I am worried whether the relief organizations will be able to provide them with continuous support. Also, I felt extremely anxious after hearing that a cyclone is coming this way in April, which may cause flooding of the entire camp. In spite of that, it gives me hope to hear that the camp is receiving relief aid from all over the world. I am vacillating between worry and hope, so I have mixed feelings.
Ven. Pomnyun Sunim thanked Jo In-sung and Noh Hee-kyung for their visit to the refugee camp. Several children started to run towards them after spotting the camera, and they all took a photo together.
Richard Regan, the general manager of WFP Bangladesh suggested that Noh Hee-kyung a drama script based on the story of refugees. She answered, “I think it will be possible with your cooperation.”
The last place JTS members visited was the piece of land that was being prepared to set up a new refugee camp. The original camp was built on hills, so it is prone to landslides when there is heavy rain. Thus, the refugees living in the most dangerous part of the original camp will be moved to the new camp. Since there are still a lot of refugees crossing the border, construction to expand the refugee camp is expected to continue for some time.
It was possible to see the land being leveled using forklifts and laborers building the embankment.
It was possible to see a bamboo bridge that has been built to allow people to cross over the river. In some places, workers were building drainages and stairs. It was amazing to witness the land being transformed into a place suitable for residential use based on careful planning and execution.
After visiting the new construction site, the JTS members ended their two-day visit to the refugee camp. They returned to their lodging around 6:30 PM.
We took the time to introduce ourselves among JTS and KOICA while everyone in attendance at accommodation. Our motives for working on this project were different but we were all on the same page for the goal of resolving Rohingya refugees concerns.
At the lodging, JTS and KOICA members had time to greet each other while everyone was in attendance at the accommodations. Although everyone’s motive for working on the project was different, they were all on the same page about resolving Rohingya refugees’ concerns.
We are heading to Dhaka airport by taking a domestic flight through Cox’s Bazar airport and will transfer to the plane to Kolkata. When we arrive at Kolkata, Pomnyun Sunim will head to Sujata Academy and Jo In-Sung and No Hee-kyung will return to South Korea. It is all about traveling. See you tomorrow.
Next day, JTS members will be heading to Dhaka airport by taking a domestic flight through Cox’s Bazaar airport and will transfer planes to Kolkata. Once at Kolkata, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim will head to Sujata Academy and Jo In-sung and Noh Hee-kyung will return to South Korea.