Invisible Scars

Minu Akter, Lutfa Akter and Yakub Ali - all suffer the same fate. Surviving the Rana Plaza have left them with scars that have faded over time, but fear and sustained injuries that are yet to leave them- even after five years.

Minu Akter (25) worked in a factory housed on the 3rd floor of Rana Plaza. With a monthly income of about 10,000 BDT (including overt-time) she was the sole breadwinner of her family. Trapped in the rubbles, Minu was rescued three days after the building collapse. Minu still suffers from trauma and prefers to work in small factories with tin shed. She recounts that it took more than a year to resume usual activities and more than two years before she could consider working. Dizziness and fever have become her constant companion. Unable to work for long periods, she frequently changes jobs.

File 39551Minu Akter

Though she continues to work in the garments factories- now her sole selection criteria is that it has to be a tin-shed factory where even if she is not paid enough at least the roof above her head will not cave in. for Minu, health care is her priority. she acknowledges that she received health care service from various sources in the years following the tragedy, but the service received entailed medicines to reduce pain. 'I am always sick- not a day goes by when I am not sick'. She has no means for a complete diagnosis and thus continues to suffer every day.

Lutfa Akter (36) worked as a sewing operator on the 5th floor of Rana Plaza. She sustained injuries, but more than the physical injuries, the trauma of being trapped in the building pains her more. Restless and forgetful, she spends many sleepless nights in fear of being trapped again. ‘When I enter any building- I never look up, I only look down’.

File 39553Lutfa Akter

Though she received psychosocial counselling, her fear does not allow her to work. She tried going back to work but was unable to retain employment due to her psychological challenges and have been refused employment in some cases upon hearing that she is a Rana Plaza survivor. With income from a single-source, their days are not easy. She had to get her young daughter married off as she was unable to meet the expenses of her education. Multiple challenges have made life a burden for her. ‘Those who died are better-off, for the rest of us we live in tension and fear’. 

Yakun Ali (35) was a helper in the 7th floor of Rana Plaza. He migrated from Comilla in 2011 and worked in the same factory for seventeen months before tragedy struck. The bitter experience from his first job in Dhaka left him determined to never go back to wage employment. For the last four years, Yakub is running a small grocery store and continues to be the sole income earner of the family. Though he received health care from numerous sources, recurring pain from injuries have left him without any savings from the financial assistance he received. Yakub is unable to work for extended periods and cannot left heavy objects, thus limiting his options to expand his business. He has difficulty with household chores and even says his prayers in different ways at different times due to pain and discomfort. Like Minu, the only health care he received entailed medication, but for his sufferings, he doesn’t get the type of diagnosis he requires for long-term treatment.

File 39554Yakub Ali

‘From my appearance I may look healthy but no one believes that I cannot lift heavy objects. No one can understand the pain that I am living in’.