The girls in the solar panel classes say the program is particularly important for them because the camp is dangerous at night, especially for girls
“The boys can come here,
so why not the girls?”
. The solar lights they build make it safer for them to move between houses, or to the communal bathroom at night.
While the girls are now getting an education – their new-found freedom is precarious. Without the support of their families and the wider community, they will not be allowed to attend the centres.
UNICEF worked with community, religious leaders and families to ensure support for the program. “At the beginning we had lots of problems with our families, but the staff here have had lots of parent meetings to change their minds,” says one girl.
The girls also have some of their own ideas about how to ensure continued support: they want to set up an exhibition of their work to show their parents what they can make, so their families understand how valuable their new skills are.
They also want to help expand the program to more girls, so they can have the same opportunities.
These children and young people are the beginning of a new generation of Rohingya. A generation who are dreaming of a community that includes them, where they can do anything.
“Hope comes in many ways in the Rohingya camp,” says Ann. “I saw some pretty dire conditions, but I was also inspired by the young people’s hope and resilience.”
“They’ve got a sense of spirit and hopefully
circumstances don’t crush their spirit.”