When Sharifah Shakirah was solely 5 years outdated, she was stuffed in a ship with strangers.
Separated from her father, who fled violence, and her mom, who was arrested when she tried to affix Sharifah’s father, she was despatched to discover a solution to her father, on her personal.
Handed over to human traffickers by family members, she would journey by sea and by land, traversing jungles by foot after which by automobile to succeed in her father in Malaysia – a father she had no reminiscence of.
That is her story as instructed to Aidila Razak.
I’ve little or no reminiscences of Myanmar. Once I was two, my father left us. On the day he left us, he had witnessed members of the Burmese Military commit violence towards civilians. Fearing for his life, he fled. He by no means even stated goodbye.
We’re Rohingya Muslim and we lived within the Arakan state. For the Rohingya neighborhood, males are the breadwinners. So when my father disappeared, my mom was left to look after us – two daughters aged two and one – with out the means to. Unbeknownst to her, she was additionally pregnant with my brother.
There are little or no that Rohingya ladies can do to earn a residing on the time. My mom began working in different individuals’s homes. Quickly, she heard from our father, he was in Malaysia.
The village that we lived in was surrounded by Buddhist villages hostile to us. The state of affairs was getting increasingly more violent by the day. It escalated when some Buddhist monks began instigating followers to burn down Rohingya homes and outlets.
My mom felt it was now not secure to remain – we may very well be killed at any time – so she determined to additionally flee and take us to our father.
As Rohingya, we couldn’t simply depart if we needed to. We didn’t have any passports. We couldn’t simply take a airplane overseas. It was unlawful to go away Arakan state with out permission. Our actions had been closely restricted, it was like residing in a giant jail.
So my mom organized for us to flee by boat – from Arakan (Rakhine state) to Rangoon (Yangon), and from there go on one other boat to Thailand, after which Malaysia.
It was round subuh (earlier than daybreak) once we boarded the fishing boat in Arakan. I used to be already three by then, my sister was two and my brother aged one, nonetheless breastfeeding.
Once we arrived in Rangoon, we had been positioned in a constructing, like a store with the shutters introduced down. We had been the one kids in that place. There, the traffickers demanded cost.
My mom had deliberate for my father to ship via the cash by the point we received to Rangoon, however it didn’t arrive in time. So my mom negotiated a deal – launch us kids to family members, and she or he would keep till the cash got here via.
However I’d not see her for an additional two years. Someway after we left, the authorities raided the place and everybody was arrested. My mom went to jail for 2 years for touring with out correct paperwork.
They had been a cheerful household with their very own kids, however they abused me. They hit me till my tooth broke. I get emotional simply pondering of these days and I’m nonetheless dealing with the trauma as we speak, however thank God that it was not sexual abuse like so many refugee women I’ve met since then. Actually, the household dressed me up as a boy, and shaved my head to look the half. I nonetheless don’t fairly know why.
Generally, when at their place, there could be individuals coming to search for me – police or somebody like this. They might say they know my mom had three kids and so they had been on the lookout for the youngsters. I must conceal inside the home.
These had been actually the toughest moments of my life. I didn’t perceive what was occurring. I bear in mind pondering of my mum and crying each evening. I cried for her hugs, for her love, for her firm. Later she instructed me she survived jail by pondering of us each evening.