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Real Madrid. Mohammad Alam. Tengkhali camp, ner Cox’s Bazar. December 2017

Why Real Madrid? I asked.

“Because of Ronaldo. He is the best. I watched him on TV in Myanmar many times”, said a very shy Mohammad Alam, the cutest footballist ever.

Mohammad Alam is a 10 year old Rohingya refugee. In the picture above he is waiting, with thousands other hungry kids for cooked food to be distributed at Tengkhali refugee camp near Cox’s Bazaar, in Bangladesh.

His family is from Kasary Para, a village in Buthidaung township in Myanmar. They were ethnically cleansed, to use one of the ugliest words ever invented, few days after Kurban (Eid al-Adha) holiday this year. Just like thousands of others fleeing the repression of Myanmar military and extremists, his family walked for 20 days to finally reach the camps near Cox’s Bazar – muddy, miserable, overcrowded but safe heaven for Rohingya refugees. Ronaldo’s red t-shirt, Mohammad most valuable possession, was among very few items the family brought to Bangladesh.

Mohammad is second Rohingya to be featured on Footballists and all I can say about this stateless group of people is to repeat – it’s like being a Bosnian or Palestinian but a hundred times worse. Hope next time we see Mohammad will be somewhere on the left wing, with a ton of gel in his hair about to score a hat-trick.

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Rohingya children wait for food to be distributed.


  1. I’ve sat here for a few minutes now, trying to come up with something important or insightful to say about this boy and his people. I cannot. All I can see is Mohammad Alam is just like my sons, only born in another part of the world and thus punished for it. The blog may have began as a cosmopolitan slice of culture, but THIS is the work I best remember it for.

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