Stories of migrants: Trees for survival

by | Sep 23, 2021 | Blog, News and Updates | 3 comments

Photo by migrants-refugees.va. Credit: Annalisa Vandelil

Enayet Rahman is the Imam of the mosque in one of the refugee camps that houses migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, among other countries. Minara is a Muslim woman who has been living there for 20 years. Ali Mia has been there since 2017 with her family. All three belong to the Rohingya ethnic group.

What is the only thing they asked the authorities to do to live in peace in their camp? Trees. “Without trees our children suffer”, Minara recounts. Shade and cool breezes were what they longed for most. 

Get to know this story up close: watch this video

“Trees are so important to us that they can be compared to human heads; just as a man cannot live without a head, he cannot live without trees. That’s why we need many trees for ourselves and for the environment,” says Enayet.

The 107th World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be celebrated on September 26 with the theme “Towards an ever greater ‘we'”. Pope Francis calls us to take action for the benefit of present and future generations. This day is promoted by the Migrants and Refugees section of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

Learn more about the actions you can take to help them.

For Enayet and his companions, trees are vital because, with the advancing climate crisis, the summer heat can no longer be endured: “It used to be very hot, there were no trees and the sun was shining. Caritas gave us two trees per family. Now that the trees have grown, our children can play and sit in the shade. We are also at peace”, says Ali Mia.

They emphasize the communion that exists in the camp: “Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims live together as brothers. There are no quarrels. The residents here also consider us as brothers and sisters.” 

“They are serving and caring for us as human beings,” confesses the Imam. And this is for them the most important thing. “I believe we can progress if we help each other”, Ali Mia completes.

Their bond with creation is strong: “Just as the environment is helping us, we should also take care of the environment, otherwise the environment will not be able to help us in the future”, Ali Mia says enthusiastically, and she also believes that cutting down trees should be forbidden “because when our environment is good, we are good too”.

Guadalupe García Corigliano
Guadalupe García Corigliano

Buenos Aires, Argentina. B.A. in Journalism from Universidad del Salvador (Argentina). Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Journalism from Pompeu Fabra University (Spain). Currently she is Copywriter for LSM; Press Manager at Meraki; Founder and Director of the Digital Magazine Iglesia Millennial. More than 5 years of experience in communication and press for different Catholic organizations and projects.

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Anne Brisbois Abbott
Anne Brisbois Abbott
2 months ago

So true about trees- it is hard to imagine the suffering of people without the shade of a tree- trees are our roots and wings!- not my words but they are good words to describe the importance of trees!

Chris J.A. Coutinho
Chris J.A. Coutinho
2 months ago

Such wonderful work that Caritas is doing!
The ‘sand artist’ in the video is simply amazing. That final depiction of Christ’s Head made of trees is stunning! “Trees are so important to us that they can be compared to human heads; just as a man cannot live without a head, he cannot live without trees”

Alexander M Roth
Alexander M Roth
2 months ago

Thank you for bringing these stories to light. Great spotlights and resources like this give me and the young people I teach so much hope.