Local man helps in plight of Rohingya refugees

Posted on: 3rd April, 2018

Category: Features

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

Yousuf Janabali, living with his family in Clonakilty since 2000, recently travelled to his native country of Bangladesh, to volunteer at one of the Rohingya camps.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees have built makeshift shelters on steep, sandy hills in Bangladesh. They’ve fled what the UN has called ethnic cleansing in neighbouring Myanmar.

The refugees – more than 800,000 living in a series of camps covering 3,000 acres – are in urgent need of emergency food and nutrition support. Basic services, in particular shelter and sanitation, are badly needed. Conditions in the settlements and camps are now so critical that disease outbreaks are inevitable.

Yousuf Janabali (above) helped to build a water pump and a latrine during his time at the camp, which houses over 300,000 refugees.

This is the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world and refugees arriving in Bangladesh—mostly women and children—are traumatised, many arriving with injuries or having lost family and friends.

“It’s so sad and distressing”, said Yousuf, who visited hundreds of families while he was there. “So many children have lost their parents and have made this journey with neighbours, so really they are all on their own and have absolutely nothing. The children just cry all day for their mothers.

“One nine-year-old boy I spoke to sobbed as he told me his story. His family had a farm and didn’t want to leave the animals so the Myanmar’s security forces took his father away, raped his older sister in front of the family and shot the others. He and a brother were hiding in an outside toilet so they got away.”

Yousuf helped to build a water pump and a latrine during his time at the camp, which houses over 300,000 refugees.

As the monsoon season approaches in April, the Government of Bangladesh, supported by UNHCR and its partners, are in a race against time to ensure the refugees are as safe as they can be to deal with potential floods and landslides.

“It rained once while I was there,” says Yousuf “and it was very bad – the soil became very soft and muddy, and because the camp is on a hillside, it was very dangerous.”

Yousuf and his wife Salma have four children. “When I told my children about the plight of these people, they asked me if they could keep their own food to send over there!” he says emotionally.

Yousuf (47) is from a poor farming family in Bangladesh. His father owned two cows and a few goats and earned 15 cent a day working as a labourer.

“I remember one day needing a pencil, costing less than one cent, for school and my father could not afford to buy it for me,” he recalls.

Yousuf paid his way through secondary school by working as a tutor for the children of a wealthy family.

After finishing school, he was employed to run a shop and office, working seven days a week for seven years for the owner. “He gave me food and board and €150 at the end of the seven years.”

Yousuf needed €300 to travel to Malaysia to work in a factory, so his father sold his farm to make up the money.

“My first day there, I earned €4 for eight hours work, which seemed like a fortune,” he recalls.

After one month, Yousuf was able to send €150 home, which his parents used to buy a little house.

In 2000, after working his way up in a five-star hotel in Malaysia, Yousuf was able to afford to move to Ireland.

Today, as well as running his own business, a shop in Spiller’s Lane in Clonakilty selling Asian spices and products, Yousuf, a trained chef, supports his family by working as a night porter in the Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery. He still sends money home regularly to his family in Bangladesh.

“My children appreciate how good we have it here in Ireland,” he says. “As hard as my childhood was, it was nothing compared to what the Rohingya refugees are going through. Never in my life have I seen anything like this. These people are badly in need of our support. We need to open our eyes to it”

Yousuf plans on travelling again soon to the Rohingya camp and hopes to raise enough funds to bring with him to help in building more much-needed water pumps and latrines.

If you would like to make a donation the account details are:

A/C name:
Direct Help for Rohingya.


IBAN: IE85AIBK93605714585183

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13th April, 2018  ·  

An evening on the 'Balance of Feeling Good' by Clonakilty Gaa Club Health and Wellbeing Committee followed by Guest Speaker, Cork GAA Chairperson, Tracey Kennedy.

Paddy Duggan, former Principal of Clonakilty Community College, will be MC on the night, facilitating a discussion on getting the balance of feeling good.
Contributors on the night are Colm Sheehy, Conor Murray, David Lowney, Denis Murphy, Eoghan Deasy, Sean McEvoy, Thomas Clancy and Treasa O'Brien.
Topics covered will range from awareness and responsibility to yourself and others to the benefits of exercise and nutrition.
The evening is suitable for everyone aged 16 and over from players, members of the community, parents of young and adolescent children, etc.

This is a public event, free of charge and everyone is invited and very welcome to attend.
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12th April, 2018  ·  

The Cast of Harold Pinter’s ‘No Man’s Land’ are on their way to the All-Ireland finals, having won 26 awards, including five best of Festivals, at the Amateur Drama League of Ireland annual three act festivals. The play ‘No Man’s Land, by Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize Winning Author is directed by Jennifer Williams.

One last opportunity to view this multi award winning play at Skibbereen Town Hall, on Saturday 14th of April, before the finals.

Having met by chance in a pub, two aging writers continue a long night of drinking and reminiscing in a stately London home. As the night wears on, their conversation wanders through memories long forgotten or invented. Is their encounter real or a delusion? Are they strangers or do they share a past history? When unexpected guests intrude upon an increasingly surreal evening, the atmosphere quickly changes from friendly to threatening, and the encounter becomes a game of survival.

Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by emailing schulldramagroup@gmail.com

For more information please contact hilary.mccarthy6@gmail.com
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9th April, 2018  ·  

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