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The Rohingya refugee crisis is one of the worst in recent history. The story of the Rohingya is often told by others through the lens of death, destruction, and dependence. In Myanmar, narratives of the Rohingya are largely framed by the Buddhist majority, who view them as intruders from Bangladesh who are a threat to Myanmar. In Bangladesh, the Rohingya are unwelcome refugees who must resort to a life confined in a camp. But for one of the most persecuted minority communities on earth, there is more to Rohingya life.
This project promotes self-reliance in Rohingya refugees by imparting filming equipment and social media know-how to provide them with an outlet for self-expression. We will recruit a network of Rohingya “media fellows” across Bangladesh, Thailand, and Malaysia. Through developing their creative skills, we hope to empower them to create positive changes and improve their livelihoods. The media fellows are able to provide insights into the life of the Rohingya people through the power of photography, and directly engage with the outside world on what it means to be Rohingya. In the process, they can break down long-established socio-cultural barriers that stereotype Rohingya people as outsiders, foreigners, and a threat. This project is a critical contribution to creating a new destiny for the Rohingya. Not only will the project nurture empathy towards the refugee crisis, but it can also become a vehicle for economic independence for the Rohingya community. An advisory board of prominent and professional photographers, filmmakers, storytellers, creators, human rights defenders, social media celebrities, and others to provide guidance to the Media Fellows, alumni, and members of Refocus. Burmese people unfamiliar with Rohingya culture will get to know them better through this project. This can contribute to counteracting decades of racist propaganda within the country. We also hope to gain a Bangladeshi audience, so as to counteract negative stereotypes that have been propagating recently within the country.