Kutupalong refugee camp is frequented by many journalists and documentarians. I started to work alongside them as a translator and stringer. Through close observation of other photographers, various workshops and programmes held within the camps by NGOs, I nurtured my photography skills.
I came to know about the Rohingya Photography Competition (RPC) in 2020 to be held inside the camps. I was immediately hooked. I followed all the instructions laid out by the organiser and worked with confidence. In the end, I won a prize in the category of "Rohingya Life."
This competition was a first of its kind. And this initiative a first for us because it identified us as photographers. I cannot even explain in words what that recognition meant for me.
You see, I was born to Rohingya refugee parents in the early 1990s and raised in this camp. I remember asking my parents in 2011 to show me the papers for the property they had to leave behind in 1991 in Myanmar. They showed me two pieces of old paper.
That revelation spurred my calling to document life. I maintain a digital archive so that even if my phone is seized the archive will still live on. My children and generations to follow will have this proof of life: my photographed moments inside these camps.
Mohammed Salim Khan, a registered resident of Kutupalong refugee camp, is featured in this issue of In Focus in commemoration of World Refugee Day, 20 June.