This Ramadan’s campaign, we’re asking ‘Who Cares? asks #whocares. Today we share the reflections of someone who does. Read and be inspired.
In my experience, many times when we feel motivated to act, the reason is personal; a connection we feel to a cause. For me, the motivation to act for the empowerment of displaced people comes largely from my family’s experience of migrating from East Africa to Europe in the 70s. It wasn’t an easy migration by any means; being forced from your home, from what you know, can never be called easy. However, they were resettled with resources, with governments that helped not hindered, and they were enabled to study, to work, and to integrate. Within the same generation, they became doctors, engineers, businessmen, and women. They were given stability, so much so that their children grew up as European, and rarely felt the impact of this displacement.
That is what I wish for every refugee, but in today’s societies, the challenges are mounting. Since I am European, I play a part in Europe’s treatment of refugees, which is why I ended up in Greece in 2015. Since I am human, I play a part in how humanity responds to those in need of assistance around the world.
In 2011 I began teaching English in a Palestinian camp in Lebanon over the Summer and I have worked in the humanitarian sector from that time onwards, mostly in education. The Palestinian cause has many lessons to teach us, and I wanted to understand what life is like for Palestinians, still living as second-class citizens after 60 years in Lebanon. I may have gone to teach, but as any good teacher will tell you, you can’t teach without learning first. I learned that the majority of Palestinians still grow up in camps in Lebanon, in difficult conditions with unsafe infrastructure, and attend UNWRA schools, where the quality of teaching has declined over the years. The Palestinian experience reminds me that even though decades may pass upon leaving your country when you’re a refugee, it’s easy for your rights to be taken away.
I have seen this again with the Syrian refugee crisis, and yet again with the most recent treatment of refugees from all countries in Europe, where people are continuously denied their right to safe passage, to a just legal process, and to education and livelihood. A child’s right to education is among the universal human rights for all people, regardless of legal status. I have met countless children in my work in Lebanon and Greece who are unable to fulfill their potential because war and instability has disrupted their education. Some have even seen their school bombed. I am the person I am today because my family were able to continue their education when they left their home country. This is my motivation for what I do; to treat others as I wish to be treated, and to protect people’s rights, as I would want them to protect mine.
Children should not be denied an education. It is among our basic human rights. Help us to give Syrian refugee children an education by donating to our cause to raise funds for a mobile education unit for those living in destitute refugee camps in Lebanon. Donate today.
Written by Aliya Abidi