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When I Grow Up: Bringing dreams of Rohingya children out on canvas

  • Published at 06:49 pm June 20th, 2019
Saad Hammadi, Amnesty International South Asia Campaigner, Hiroyasu Izumi, Ambassador of the Embassy of Japan in Bangladesh, Nahida Sobhan, Director General of United Nations Wing at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dara Johnston, Acting Deputy Representative of UNICEF Bangladesh and Asif Uddin Ahmed, Acting Director of EMK Center inaugurated the exhibition on Thursday | Courtesy

One of the artists, seven-year-old Morshida, drew a female figure with a caption that said she wanted to become a hygiene officer.

On the occasion of World Refugee Day on Wednesday, Amnesty International organized a five-day exhibition titled “When I Grow Up,” showcasing artwork done by 160 Rohingya refugee children. 

The tiny artists made the drawings at a two-day art camp held in Cox's Bazaar with the Rohingya children, supported by Unicef and the EMK Center. 

The inaugural ceremony of the exhibition was held at the EMK Center in Dhanmondi, on Thursday, and was attended by representatives of foreign missions, donors and UN agencies. 

The Rohingya children, with the help of six cartoonists, made sketches on their aspirations, depicting what they wish to be when they grow up. From what the artwork on display show, most of the children seem to aspire to become teachers or doctors – hoping to change their current situation with their achievement. 

One of the artists, seven-year-old Morshida, drew a female figure with a caption that said she wanted to become a hygiene officer.

Sharfia, meanwhile, wants to sew clothes for people, and her drawing shows that. 

Md Humayun, 8, wants to be the chairman of Burma [Myanmar] to change peoples’ lives. His painting is quite interesting. 

Japanese Ambassadaor Hiroyasu Izumi enjoys the exhibition | Courtesy The art camp and the exhibition are parts of Amnesty International's campaign to increase local and international support for the education of Rohingya children, which follows an accredited curriculum that would be globally acceptable, so the Rohingya children can practically apply the knowledge they acquire in different settings.

"Childhood is the most formative period in life. We all have a responsibility to provide these children with the opportunity to chase their dreams," said Saad Hammadi, South Asia campaigner at Amnesty International.

Dara Johnston, acting deputy representative of Unicef in Bangladesh, said: "Unicef is exploring pathways to an accredited curriculum with higher level institutes. We are also developing core materials for Rohingya children with different learning competencies. Our goal is to ensure that this generation of children have the knowledge and skills they require to lead healthy, productive lives, and contribute to their communities in future.”

Amnesty International will also take the artwork by the Rohingya children to other countries to campaign for increased international support for their education.