From the relative safety of Bangladesh’s cramped coast, Rashid could finally believe that freedom was within reach. He thought often of the violence that had driven his family from Myanmar’s Rakhine State: the friends jailed and tortured by Buddhist nationalists; the women violated; the heavy-handed restrictions enforced against fellow Rohingya Muslims. But it was his memories of scenes from Indian TV shows that gave him hope — and an idea.
The enterprising 30-year-old bought bus tickets to the Indian border in the fall of 2015 and made his way to a village south of the capital of New Delhi with other refugees — strangers back home; now like extended family. The transition was a far cry from Bollywood glamour: makeshift tents turned to waterlogged rubble during monsoon season, and a local moneylender locked the cash-strapped newcomers into a cycle of indebtedness. But Rashid gradually learned Hindi, secured UN refugee identification cards for the 105-person settlement, and devised a camp-wide system of collecting and sorting recyclables — a steady, if meager, source of income.