Life at home

Dearest Loyal Blog Reader,
Twice in my life I was a refugee. Once in Iran, and another time in Turkey. On both occasions I was too young to understand what it meant to be a refugee, too young to know what my parents are going through and what it is that is taking place in my surrounding. My refugee story ended up being one of those ‘happily ever after’ because a host country accepted us as we went to exile.
Baby Hawler
Today, not too long after, here I am back home among refugees of my own nation. Every time I step into any camp a feeling comes to me which I do not encounter anywhere else I go. All of a sudden the house I live in, the car I drive and the clothes I wear mean nothing to me. Absolutely nothing. I look back at my return to Kurdistan (and if you’ve read My Nest In Kurdistan you’d know I had a bumpy start) but reflecting now, it was the best decision ever.
Often when I do the training with the youth refugees (along side two other great friends of mine) a special bond  forms with some of them. This time when I went back to Kawrgosk I met Kh., she is a 16-year-old girl, the eldest of the five children in her family. She insisted I visit her tent and meet their newly arrived sister, baby Hawler. Yes, the little baby girl was named Hawler, after the city in which was born in, as a refugee*.
The eyes, the eyes kill me….
How are you supposed to feel when you hold in your arms a baby girl, born while her family are living under a tent in a refugee camp? How are you supposed to feel looking into the eyes of a shy little girl who has to play in mud rather than a playground?
No matter what you do, you walk out feeling guilty.
She finally revealed a smile
The people in the camps, who are by far the most vulnerable, are teaching me a lot. From them I am learning more about life, about appreciation, about being thankful. Because so many of them are so thankful for everything in their lives. They are thankful because they wake up in the morning with their children still alive.
On the ground, at the entrance of the tent

In the camps I have met the strongest youth. The ones who are inspiring, those who have left their university, their studies, their lovers, their friends, their life to live under a tent and are determined to find a job for a better living. However, some of them do admit they are at their breaking point.

Me (left) and Kh. (right) on our way to her tent

For a while N.Q. and I were standing by the UNFPA caravan as they distributed Dignity Kits to pregnant women and those with newborns. Many mums-to-be or new mums surrounded the caravan, I manage to approach a few for a casual conversation; From how they hold their little ones, or touch their big baby bumps I understand “life goes on.”

One happy boy with a donation

Walking in a refugee camp where people have fled their own houses and lives in fear of being killed is tough to take in, however, there are little things you see that you make you smile. Here, a little boy is pulling behind him a big airplane, too heavy for him to carry. It made me smile, because I knew someone had bought this toy and sent it here, not knowing which child will end up playing with it (in my head I make a quick prayer for whoever it was who donated this toy). It makes you smile and happy to know you belong to a nation (Kurds) and a country (Kurdistan) who have accepted with open arms the newly comers, seeing them as guests rather than refugees. It makes me smile to have inbox messages, texts, emails and calls of people who have donations they want to pass to families in the camps. This makes you believe there are still plenty of good people in the world.

The young boy and the oversize plane
There are those in the camp who, despite all of the challenges they face, look up and thank god. I almost always come across these individuals. Those who appreciate every small thing one does for them, those who say they are “lucky” and “happy” for where they are and what they’re offered.
A new-mum breastfeeding her newborn, waiting for UNFPA Dignity Kits

And so, my life back home is a special one at the moment. I am learning a lot, finding out more about life, about myself and about what it means to be living in this world. It is special, because I am interacting with people, who not long ago, could have probably been my own relatives, my own family….this little child 24 years ago could have been me.

*Hard to call Kurds refugees on Kurdish-land. Sadly, this is the reality!

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