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May 14th 2007
Published: May 14th 2007EDIT THIS ENTRY

My storm shelter!My storm shelter!My storm shelter!

This is where I hunkered down for the night of the not-quite-a-cyclone when my windows gave indications they might blow in. This is the hallway of my rather swanky flat. Bare so far, but my bedroom's great!
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So here is where I am....a little country with a lot of people, and right down in the south a little beach resort called Cox's Bazar. I'm going to be here for the next 3 months as an intern with the UNHCR, working in 2 refugee camps in the vicinity. These camps are populated with 26,000 Rohingya refugees from Burma, some of whom have been living there in what have been described as 'appalling' camp conditions for the past 15 years. The situation is complicated and money is scarce so the UNHCR face a continuing struggle to make things better for these people. I have read a lot about it, but will finally be visiting one of the camps tomorrow, so should have a better idea then (it's all about the lived experience eh? - that one's for the anthropologists!).

These past few days I have been settling into my relatively swanky pad (well, nicer than anywhere i've stayed in India. Marchmont still wins. Even Dumbiedykes wins I think, well, maybe not!). I bought a fan...which was a novelty..who buys a fan in Blighty?....and have erected my mozzie net and hung my
Storm damage!Storm damage!Storm damage!

The next day in Nayapara camp, the only building damaged by the storm...was the UNHCR office! Here is Dr Jamal (head of Mecical services) looking fittingly bemused!
curtains and am strating to feel a bit at home. Everyone here has been salavanging bits and bobs of furniture for me, dragging them out of garages and basements, dusting them off and getting them carried up the 4 floors to my new place. Its so sweet, i could never have afforded to get half this stuff (yeah, my 'fully furnished' flat had been stripped by the owners - it is assumed- inbetween my boss agreeing to rent it and me moving in. They'd even taken all the bulbs..miserable gets!). It's the ladieeez villa, with my colleagues Soo-Eun (Korean) and Marina (Russian) living below. I just can't wait til my french flatmate (Carine) arrives next month to complete the set.

The wind and rain has been picking up all day. Apparently it's 'cyclone month'. Oh good. I love the stuff that only gets mentioned once you're here. hee he! Anyway, today we had a 4 out of 10 warning..but I've just overheard that its been upped to 7 - ie we're more than likely getting a cyclone tonight. gulp. Still, I live in the sturdiest house around so will be fine. We're probably going to have to head out to the camps first thing to help in the aftermath, so I'll be getting stuck right in. I feel a little bit like dorothy, but im already in my land of oz, so where does that leave me?! not sure. anyway...will see you on here soon...

lots of love all of you and worry not, i'm hard as nails me..and heavier!

Iona xx


17th May 2007

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