As over 1.6 billion Muslims around the world celebrated Eid-ul-Fitr – “Festival of Breaking the Fast” after a month of fasting from dust to dawn, a small Rohingya community marked the festival on its 10th year of resettlement in Carlow.
Although the 19 hours of fasting a day for 29 days may seem an unmanageable spiritual undertaking, the community finds it a mandatory task to stand in solidarity with people of destitute the way Irish society has stood up since resettlement in April 2009.
Ramadan (The Month of Fasting) may have passed, but the spirit of fasting should not be taken out of our hearts for the rest of year and years ahead.
There are people deprived of love and compassion.
There are people without basic human rights.
There are people without food and shelters around the world including over 70 homeless Irish people in Carlow where the Rohingya community is provided a place to call home and where it is given the compassion, love and solidarity when needed most.
We have never felt so loved and welcome in our lives being born in Myanmar (Burma) and growing up in the refugee camps in Bangladesh.
“Carlow has been a wonderful home which upholds the very meaning of Ramadan – love, compassion, solidarity and peace,” describes Mohammed Rafique, Chairman of Rohingya Action Ireland and Carlow Cricket Club.
78 members of the community were resettled from two refugee camps in Bangladesh where they have fled the mass atrocities being committed by Myanmar Military in 1991-2.
Most of the community were born or spent at least 17 years in the camps before their resettlement in Carlow under the refugee resettlement programme.
The mass exodus during “the ongoing genocide” now makes up over 1.3 million Rohingya refugees including many relatives of the community in Bangladesh.
The writer Haikal Mansor is a member of Rohingya Action Ireland based in Carlow, and general secretary of the European Rohingya Council (ERC). The community can be reached through firstname.lastname@example.org, www.rohingya.ie.