The almost sinking ship of Rakhaines, mainly in Patukhali and Barguna district, is in a hand of a lady who is giving her utmost effort to hold the mast tightly. She is none other than Myentthein Promila.
She was born, in 1981, and brought up in a remote place of Patuakhali, Kola Para. From her childhood, she was determined to work for her community as she was discriminated and teased in school for her food habit, dress and physical appearance by the non-Rakhaines.
Her father, Soe Shoue Hawlader, completed his graduation from Fine Arts Institute of University of Dhaka who preferred to teach in the remote area, Kola Para, instead of making good fortunes in Dhaka. He established a Fine Arts Academy there. Her mother is a housewife.
When she was a college student at Kola Para, she engaged herself in different forums to raise voice on behalf of women.
Later, she moved to Dhaka as she was admitted in the department of Drama and Dramatics at Jahangirnagar University.
As soon as she completed her graduation, she started to work with Nijera Kori, an NGO which works with downtrodden people, where she worked for two years.
In 2007, she commenced to work as a project In-charge, in Barishal division, of Integrated Community Development Project Rakhaine (ICDP-Rakhaine), funded by Secours Catholique Caritas France.
This project is intended to work with the poor and marginalised people and committed to provide social protection to Rakhaines. Moreover, it also works in creating work facilities at community level. ICDP-Rakhaine project is also providing legal support for court cases on forcefully occupied land.
It provides facilities to Rakhaines as well as marginalised non-Rakhaines people by offering practical training for unemployed people like tailoring, technicians and motor mechanics.
Through this project she encourages young Rakhaines in cultural activities so that Rakhaine culture and rituals can be preserved. Many traditional musical instruments are given to them.
In almost 52 villages of Kolapara Upazilla, Patuakhali district, and Taltoli Upazilla, Barguna district, free medicine and health treatment are given to mainly Rakhaine and poor people.
These villages are in remote area where hospitals are not available and people are in vulnerable states especially pregnant women. So, she is working to train village midwife so that pregnant women can get proper treatment.
Apart from these facilities, four Rakhaine language centre are established for the Rakhaines so that they can read and write in their mother tongue. These centres are helping Rakhaines greatly as most of the Rakhaines can converse in their language orally whereas they lack reading and writing skill. Books and reading materials are provided by Caritas France.
When asked, as a leader what kind of obstacles she face? She replied promptly it is very challenging for her as she is discriminated in three ways. Firstly, as a minor indigenous, secondly as a women, thirdly as an indigenous women. These things sometimes hinder her mind and she becomes frustrated. Her mother inspires her to overcome these hindrances.
She does many voluntary works to protect and establish the rights of indigenous people. She is an executive member of Kapaeeng Foundation and connected with Bangladesh Indigenous Women Network (BIWN).
In September, 2014 she attended World Conference on Indigenous Peoples at United Nations Headquarters in New York where she represented indigenous people of Asia, mainly Bangladesh.
She participated in World Indigenous Women Conference in Peru, on October and International Campaign, in France, on May 2013.
Personally, she leads a very simple life. She always tries to uphold the culture of her community and deeply engages herself with her rootedness. She is very much influenced by philosophy of Buddha as he said, "Life is sorrowful." In every sphere of life she assimilates this philosophy and accepts unpleasant aspects of life willingly. As a result, she remains happy.
Her mother is her mentor as well as guide. She is very much happy with life because she can always have food cooked by her mother which she loved most. She loves to eat food cooked with nappi.
Her favourite leader is Ernesto Che Guevara and Manabendra Narayan Larma.
At night, she reads book every day. Mostly she reads books in her iPad. Currently, she is studying law.
Myentthein Promila concluded that she dreams for an egalitarian society where every citizen can enjoy their democratic rights.