Almost everyone we know has an opinion about refugees. Every day, people around the world debate whether we should open borders or close them, extend aid or withdraw it, explore solutions or walk away. We pity refugees and we blame them; we welcome refugees and we detain them.
But how often do we listen to refugees? Here are their stories.
Story 1: Fayeza, a Rohingya refugee who wants to return to school
Story 2: Rafeef, a Syrian refugee with disability finds hope
Meet Fayeza, a young Rohingya refugee who wants to return to school again
Everyone is sweating. From within the dim light of the single room, faces can be seen, slick and shining. The air is as heavy as the black tarp roof stretched across bamboo poles, and only the small electrical fan planted in the dirt floor, its wires split and frayed, moves the stillness.
This room and the one adjoining it, a bare kitchen separated by a piece of plastic, are all that belong to Abdu Rahaman. Three months before, the husband and father of four owned a spacious wood house with separate rooms for his children and two latrines for the six-member household.
Now, the whole family sleeps on the floor in the same room and they share two latrines with 70 families.
“Yes, it is hot and crowded here,” Abdu admitted, wiping his forehead. “When one gets sick, we all get sick. But what other option do we have?”
His daughter and oldest child, six-year-old Fayeza, remembers comfortable nights in her own bed. She also remembers the violence that forced her to leave it behind.
When government soldiers raided her village—looting and raping and killing—the little girl and her large family fled away from the soldiers and their bullets. Miraculously, they crossed the river into Bangladesh, and found safety in a refugee camp.
What they don’t have, however, is employment and education.
“I don’t like sitting or roaming around, but what can I do?” Abdu asked. “I want to send my children to school but there are no facilities here.”
Fayeza also wants to attend school. More than that, however, she wants to play with her old friends.
“I wander around here some,” she said. “But there are no schools and not much to do. Mostly, I just miss my friends.”
Sign the petition at ADRA.org/InSchool to help more children like Fayeza go to school.
Meet Rafeef, a Syrian refugee with a disability who finds hope with ADRA
It is lonely on the rooftop. Four flights down, the streets of downtown Beirut are alive with men, women, and children. Cars honk at distracted pedestrians, shop owners shout at one another, and kids run home from school.
But for ten-year-old Rafeef, the activity four flights down might as well be across the ocean. Alone with her walker, the girl just listens and looks.
Rafeef has a genetic disorder in her spinal cord. It affects her mobility, her vision, and her ability to learn. She can shuffle with the aid of her walker, but she is otherwise immobile and dependent on caregivers.
One of those caregivers is Ahlam. She is a tutor with ADRA ABILITY, a project tailored to the needs of children with physical and mental handicaps. Ahlam knows that life in Lebanon is hard for a girl like Rafeef.
“If you don’t help girls with special needs in Lebanon, they have no future or hope. A girl with disability is thought to be incapable of anything,” she says. “The parents will just try to marry her off to a much older man.”
Because parents do not believe there is value in educating a child with disability, they rarely seek out special care.
ADRA ABILITY is a program that counters that belief and offers hope. Through one-on-one education, tutors like Ahlam are able to visit children in their home and provide a personalized education. Equipped with iPads and additional educational resources, these tutors provide children with access to a world beyond their lonely rooms.
In addition to providing social and educational support, ADRA ABILITY also provides walkers, physical therapy, and specialists.
“Children with special needs require special care,” says ADRA Project Manager Rita Haddad. “Even girls without special needs are undervalued here in Lebanon. A girl with special needs is give no priority.”
Sign our petition at ADRA.org/InSchool to help more students like Rafeef go to school.
ADRA stands #withrefugees today and every day.