They say a picture is worth more than 1,000 words, and I agree.

To try to understand the Rohingya crisis, I had read much about who the Rohingya Muslims are and why they are being persecuted. It has been pretty much an exercise of thinking—a head exercise. That changed when I saw the picture (above) taken by ACT Alliance photographer Paul Jeffrey. I looked into the eyes of this girl, her eyes filled with hope as she holds up her card from the UNHCR (the United Nations’ refugee agency) in Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh.

Behind her eyes you can see that she has been through a lot to get to the camp and flee to safety. There is a reserved joy in her face. See how tightly she is holding her card? It’s as if her life depends on it; in her mind, I am sure she thought it did.

Looking deeper into her eyes, you can see a reflection in her irises of others standing there as if they are also trying to make sense of where they are and why they had to flee.

Taken in October 2017, this picture has haunted me for over a year.

No child should have to endure this; no child should grow up persecuted simply because her religion does not match others in her country. No child should know the day-to-day struggle of finding enough food, finding a place to rest, finding a place to be a child, and yet this is what is happening in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Rohingya people are tortured and killed, their homes and villages are burned to the ground. Those who can are escaping to nearby Bangladesh to what is, as of November 2018, the largest refugee camp in the world. I think of the children in my life and I know I would not want them to be in this situation.

Please support the United Church’s Rohingya Crisis Appeal. We can make a difference in people’s lives!

— Ruth Noble is the Mission & Service Engagement Coordinator at the General Council Office.

Read the latest information about how the church is responding in Bangladesh through ACT Alliance.