Children suffer most whenever insurgency, war, or violent revolt occur, their tiny voices unheard amongst the cacophony of death, diplomatic double speak, claims and counter-claims. Nowhere more so has this been the case than with the Rohingya children of Myanmar. Forced to flee a sustained, systematic cleansing that world leaders have up until recently lacked the moral and intestinal fortitude to call by its proper name: Genocide.
To focus attention on the lost voices of the Rohingya children the Singapore office of transatlantic advertising company Ogilvy has launched — literally — a “space ad” campaign that highlights what the Rohingya have gone through since their forced flight from Myanmar, collecting interviews with Rohingya children who witnessed wide-ranging atrocities, including how the lives of some of their loved ones were brutally ended.
Myanmar, as the video shows, is what the children used to call home. But what was once a happy land where Buddhists and Muslims coexisted peacefully side-by-side for generations has been transformed into a blood-soaked nightmare of death and destruction at the hands of the Tatmadaw. The young, innocent victims asking for only a little #SpaceOnEarth in which to live.
The campaign, intended for driving donations through global NGO BRACs fundraising website, comprises a three-minute film entitled #SpaceonEarth. The short clip shows video interviews with Rohingya children being launched into the sky as it plays on a monitor slung beneath a high-altitude weather balloon.
Kidnapping, rape, dismemberment, murder
One child after another recounts horrifying memories of kidnapping, rape, dismemberment, and murder as the TV lifts above upturned faces in the sprawling Cox’s Bazar refugee camp in Bangladesh, gradually rising through the stratosphere until it touches the edges of outer space, where first the monitor and then the camera shut down.
More than 700,000 Rohingya have ended up in camps in Bangladesh after fleeing their homes in the northern Rakhine province of Myanmar since August 2017. As many as 500,000 of them, according to BRAC, are children.
To better understand the conditions the Rohingya children and their parents have endured Ogilvy Asean’s chief creative officer Ajab Samrai lived among the refugees for two weeks, further compelling him to give a voice to the most disempowered people on the planet.
“Over 30 years in the industry I’ve learnt and acquired powerful creative tools to sell products and services. I’ve always felt these tools can be utilised as a force for good”, said Mr Samrai, adding “nobody was listening to their flight on Earth, so I gave them a voice in space”.
BRAC estimates that about $56 million is needed to pay for humanitarian efforts and they are still some $30 million short. The funds raised are to help the Rohingya children to meet urgent and immediate needs, while the global community hopefully works on a long-term solution.
”We have witnessed women and children bearing the brunt of the crisis”, said Erum Mariam, director of the BRAC Institute of Educational Development. “I have seen children shouldering adult responsibilities to help their families. However, they are still amazingly resilient and take up every opportunity to play, learn, and just be children.”
The Texel Foundation, a UK credit and political risk insurance broker is also assisting BRAC and Ogilvy in helping Rohingya children find a #SpaceOnEarth.
Feature video BRAC
- BRAC urges stronger int’l dialogues, actions to support the Rohingya (ReliefWeb)
- BRAC and Ogilvy urge us not to forget the Rohingya (Campaign)
- #SpaceOnEarth: Voices of Rohingya children (Dhaka Tribune)
She previously covered police rounds for Philippine Daily Inquirer as a trainee before becoming editorial staff at Gospel Komiks under the Communication Foundation for Asia (CFA-MG), Santa Mesa, Manila where she wrote lifestyle and trending fashion and styles articles.