Hampstead aid worker on spending Christmas helping Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

Kristina Marton in Bangladesh. Picture: Save the Children

Kristina Marton in Bangladesh. Picture: Save the Children - Credit: Archant

While Hampstead families tuck into their Christmas dinner today, Kristiana Marton will be doing the same more than 5,000 miles away.

The aid worker, from Hampstead, joined others in Bangladesh where she is helping in the refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar. After a recent visit back home, where she stocked up on Bisto gravy granules, Christmas pudding and other festive items, she took them back for colleagues to share.

“It’s actually a bank holiday here, so we will be having the day off,” she said ahead of the festivities.

“I came back for my Mum’s 60th birthday three weeks ago and brought a load of things back. Apart from that we will be back and forth to the aid camp.”

It will be her first Christmas and New Year away from home.

“It will be sad,” she said. “I’ll miss the social gatherings you get at Christmas, and sitting around watching films with the people you love.”

Kristiana started off her life in charity work as a shop manager at Mary’s Living and Giving Save the Children shop in Primrose Hill. After a talk by an aid worker to staff at the store, she decided to get further involved. Three years on, she put her name forward to be deployed when Myanmar’s security forces targeted the Muslim Rohingya population in August last year.

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“The programme of work we do is incredible,” she said. “We have helped hundreds of thousands through our projects, building healthcare and educational facilities in the camps, where living conditions are beyond comprehension.”

As an aid worker, she talks to refugees about their experiences. She says one sticks in her mind.

“I spoke to a seven-year-old, Aziz, who was shot when he was trying to get over the border,” she said. “He just didn’t understand why his leg wasn’t going to just grow back, which was heartbreaking. Through our referral scheme he has now got a prosthetic.”

She admits it can be difficult to switch off at the end of the “emotionally and physically exhausting” days, but says her belief in the job helps.

Save the Children’s work is partially funded by the Department for International Development (DfID)

The government has provided £129million since last year, and match-funded £5m of public donations.