Rohingya fearful of doctors keep faith healers in business

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Source: Associated Press

KUTUPALONG, Bangladesh (AP) — Abul Kalam sits cross-legged on the floor of his tiny mud hut and whispers prayers into a small plastic bottle filled with water, creating what he says is a potion that will cure stomach cramps.

“I got these powers in my dreams,” he says. “People come to me because I heal them.”

Kalam is a boidu, or faith healer, and for decades has been treating fellow Rohingya Muslims, first in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state and now in a squalid camp in Bangladesh, where 700,000 Rohingya took refuge last year after escaping a campaign of government violence at home.

Faith healers have long been sought out in Rohingya society to treat physical and mental ailments. Their trade has thrived in part because of traditional beliefs and in part because Rohingya have lacked access to modern medical care in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, where they are one of the most persecuted minority groups in the world.

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