New Delhi, June 2: Tasmida is 19 and is determined to break all barriers to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor. First, she is one of the many Rohingya Muslim refugees, who had fled their homes in Myanmar to start life afresh in India.
Second, she is a girl and her orthodox community does not allow women/girls to venture outside their homes to study or work. Moreover, she belongs to a poor family where finances are not enough to support education for children.
In spite of all these odds, Tasmida creates a record of sort by becoming the first Rohingya girl to write her Class 10 board exams in India recently. A resident of a refugee camp in Delhi, now Tasmida is eagerly waiting for her exam results scheduled to be declared on June 9.
A determined Tasmida tells The Indian Express that she aspires to become a doctor to treat Rohingya patients in Myanmar who have no access to health care. Until and unless, the teenager does not adorn the white coat, Tasmida vows not to get married.
"I want to be a doctor because no doctor tended to the Rohingyas back home... I will not get married till I become a doctor," she says. In her community, girls usually get married at a young age. Tasmida giving priority to her career over her personal life is one more step towards breaking gender gap.
"In Myanmar, Rohingyas are not allowed to study beyond Class 10. Authorities withhold Class 10 results for us. Government or private jobs are out of question," she says.
Life for Tasmida and her family, like millions of Rohingyas, who were persecuted in Myanmar and took shelter in Bangladesh and India, was never easy.
Tasmida's family left Myanmar in 2002 after her father was jailed for several months. First they stayed in Cox Bazaar, Bangladesh, for eight years. Then once again her family had to leave Bangladesh in 2012 after anti-Rohingya violence erupted and authorities in the country started detaining the Muslim refugees.
This time her family decided to come to Delhi in India. Since then Tasmida's family is staying in a ghetto in Southeast Delhi's Kalindi Kunj with several other Rohingya refugees.
According to former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Rohingya Muslims are the world's most persecuted minority people. There are around 60 million Rohingyas from the Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Most of them are on run as the Bengali-speaking Muslims in Myanmar face state-sponsored violence because of their religion and language. Figures state that 1,40,000 Rohingyas have been displaced from Myanmar.
India has around 40,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees, as per the figures available with the ministry of home affairs.
After leaving Bangladesh, where Tasmida studied for a couple of years, the teenager restarted her education in a study centre at Kanchan Kunj in the national capital. However, when she expressed her desire to attend junior school at the Bosco Refugee Assistance Project in Jangpura, her father and elder brother did not allow Tasmida to study further.
At this juncture, her other brother, Ali Johar, 24, a college student and a women's rights activist, persuaded the family to send Tasmida to school.
Ali, who heads the Rohingya Refugee Committee (Delhi) under the UNHRC says, "Rohingya women are hard-working but they are used to working as agricultural workers in Myanmar. In Delhi's urban set up, they have not been able to find the same kind of work opportunities. And the language barrier is also a problem."
Like Tasmida, a couple of other Rohingya girls from her area are now going to schools. Moreover, many Rohingya refugee women have started doing small jobs to earn their livelihood and become self-reliant.