Ishani Singh, Finalist, Local Letters for Global Change

Image by Jaime Joyce for TIME Edge. Bangladesh, 2018.

This letter features reporting from "Safe in School" by Jaime Joyce

Dear Mr. Smith,

Deep in my heart / I do believe / We shall overcome someday. This American civil rights anthem is sung by seven- to ten-year-olds in the Golap Learning Center, a school run by UNICEF for the children of 900,000 Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. I read about this in an article titled “Safe in School” by Jaime Joyce on the Pulitzer Center website. The Rohingyas fled Myanmar in August 2017 because Burmese soldiers went into their villages, attacking and killing many. Rohingyas are Muslim, and Myanmar is mostly Buddhist. People fled through the Bay of Bengal to Bangladesh, where the U.N. set up a camp for them. At the camp, there are 888 learning centers where about 95,000 children eagerly go to learn English, Burmese, and math every day. This helps them to have some normalcy in their lives. However, it still isn’t safe for them to go back home to Myanmar.

Why should our district and country care? We should care because that’s who we are. We should care because children anywhere are innocent citizens of this earth and deserve the chance to become the best they can be. We should care because education improves lives, and a stable world helps us have stable lives here at home.

While the U.S. government has allocated funds for the Rohingya refugees, there is little focus on the children. They need textbooks, storybooks, school supplies like pens and pencils, and more learning centers. We could make such a difference in their lives. You can help spread the word in Congress and the State Department that the Rohingya children need our focus. You can help build support for money that is designated for their education and goes directly to UNICEF.

So please, hear me and help these children feel happy, safe, and important. Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome the violence and care for all children someday.

Sincerely,
Ishani Singh

Ishani Singh

Hello, my name is Ishani Singh. I am eleven years old and a 6th grader at Indian Hill School in Holmdel, New Jersey. My 4th grade teacher helped me discover the power of expressing my feelings through words. Since then, I feel happy when I write. I also love to express myself through dance and math. I like trying out new foods and hanging out with my friends.

Click here to read more winners and finalists from the 2018 Local Letters for Global Change contest.