Heavy rains helped families in Buthidaung grow vegetables year-round next to their bamboo-frame homes. There was one annual crop of rice, and fish could always be caught in the river. Anwar Arkani was a child in 1978 and most mornings, he began an hour-long walk to school.
Life was good.
When Anwar first fled his village, all he understood were his mother’s words: “We have to run.” She had survived the 1948 massacre at four years old and her childhood trauma was why, when unrest began in 1978, she left immediately with her five children. They marched for days on swollen feet over some 25 kilometres to a frail and man-powered boat on the Naf River, the waterway that splinters Myanmar from Bangladesh.
Rev. Majed El Shafie