An umbrella for shade: Rohingya refugee boy works to support family

COX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Twelve-year-old Nur Hafes would rather be in school or playing football with friends at home in Myanmar.

Instead, he waits by the road in Palong Khali refugee camp in southern Bangladesh, looking for visitors who might give him money for his family.

Sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother since they arrived at the camp in Cox's Bazar two months ago, Nur spends his days watching for Muslim clerics who distribute money collected at mosques for the refugees.

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Refugee boy works to support his family
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Refugee boy works to support his family
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes, 12, holds his umbrella as he protects himself from the sun at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 27, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rohingya refugee Rabia Khatun (R), 33, mother of Nur Hafes, holds her malnourished eighteen-month-old daughter Fatima Razia at a medical centre at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 23, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Rohingya refugee Rabia Khatun, 33, mother of Nur Hafes, feeds her eighteen-month-old malnourished daughter Fatima Razia with food provided by a medical centre at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 23, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes (L), 12, waits outside a shop for local Bangladeshi Muslim clerics, who distribute money collected at mosques for the refugees, outside Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 30, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes, 12, stands amidst a crowd of refugees looking towards a local politician distributing humanitarian aid at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 30, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes, 12, shows a 50 Bangladeshi Taka banknote, which he got from a local Bangladeshi Muslim clerics, who distribute money collected at mosques for the refugees, outside Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 27, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Rabia Khatun, 33, mother of Nur Hafes, holds her eight-month-old son Mohammed Zubair as she cooks food in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 3, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes (2-L), 12, who is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother, plays with his siblings in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Rabia Khatun, 33, mother of Nur Hafes, holds her eight-month-old son Mohammed Zubair and a blanket, which is the only thing she brought from Myanmar, as she poses for a photograph in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 27, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Mohammed Zubair, eight months old, malnourished youngest sibling of Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes, lies in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 27, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Mohammed Shohail, 4, a brother of Nur Hafes, cries after his mother slapped him in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 1, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes, 12, listens to his mother Rabia Khatun in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 3, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Rabia Khatun, 33, combs hair of her eldest son Nur Hafes, 12, in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 3, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes (L), 12, eats lunch together with his siblings as their mother Rabia Khatun (R) looks on in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 3, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Fish lies on a plate in Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes' shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 27, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
A family photograph of Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes' family hangs in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 3, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Rabia Khatun, 33, mother of Nur Hafes, washes utensils as her children stand outside their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 27, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Abdul Hafes (L), 10, and his brother Mohammed Shohail, 4, siblings of Nur Hafes, look at their newly received Myanmar national identification card in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 3, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes, 12, shares a moment with his siblings outside their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 27, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Rabia Khatun, 33, mother of Nur Hafes, bathes her eighteen-month-old daughter Fatema Razia in their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 1, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Abdul Hafes, 10, brother of Nur Hafes, fills a container with drinking water from a hand pump near his shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, November 1, 2017. Twelve-year-old Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes, 12, looks at a vendor as he buys fish at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 27, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Interior of 12-year-old Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes' shelter is seen at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 29, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes, 12, digs soil to build a toilet as his grandfather stands nearby their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 27, 2017. Nur is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
Rohingya refugee Nur Hafes (L), 12, who is sole breadwinner for seven younger siblings and his mother, poses for a photograph with his family outside their shelter at Palong Khali refugee camp, near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 27, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi SEARCH "BREADWINNER REFUGEE" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.
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Opening a brown umbrella, Nur offers to shade the visitors from the blazing sun, which can bring in a little extra cash for food and supplies. (Click http://reut.rs/2AtT2uy for photo essay on Nur Hafes and his family.)

"Sometimes I get 50 or 100 taka and some days I come back empty-handed," Nur said, holding up a 50-taka ($0.60) note he received from a donor.

Nur and his family are among the more than 600,000 Rohingyas who have fled to Bangladesh since August to escape a counter-insurgency operation by the Myanmar military after attacks on security posts by Rohingya militants.

United Nations officials have described the military's actions in Myanmar's northern Rakhine state as "ethnic cleansing," an accusation the Southeast Asian nation denies.

The family left their home in Tharay Kone Yoe Dan village in Rakhine's Maungdaw township when the violence started.

"The Myanmar army burnt the houses with the people inside," said Nur's mother, Rabia Khatun.

"I saw many people with gunshot wounds and heard the crackle of houses burning."

She gathered a few belongings - a blanket to protect her children from rain, identity papers and a couple of old photos - and the family fled to her parents' village, Zaw Mat Tat, south of Maungdaw.

The next day, the army showed up there, too. Her husband became upset and suddenly left. Rabia has not seen him since.

Left with eight children, six of them younger than 10, she kept going. That evening, the family took a three-hour boat journey to Shah Porir Dwip, on the Bangladesh side of the Naf River.

Now the family relies on Nur for support. He was a huge help in Myanmar, reselling produce in their village market that his father had bought wholesale.

Nur and his mother said they hope he can eventually do something similar in Bangladesh, although Nur also still talks about school and football.

With Nur's family huddled under a tarpaulin tent and his mother needing help to feed his siblings, the youngest two of whom suffer malnourishment, a normal child's life is not in his immediate future.

"I know he is young, but he understands his responsibilities. He doesn't behave like a child anymore," Nur's mother said.

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