World Refugee Day 2019
5 Powerful Stories from Refugees Around the World
On World Refugee Day 2019, go beyond the statistics and meet the people Penny Appeal are supporting worldwide.
In the history of humanity, there have never been as many refugees around the world as we are seeing today.
In total, the UNHRC estimates that there are 25.4 million refugees worldwide, over half of whom are under the age of 18. 44,400 people are forced to flee their homes every single day. That works out as one person every 2 seconds.
With such enormous statistics, the refugee crisis can seem overwhelming. We don’t know where to turn, and so we turn away. But here at Penny Appeal, we’re fortunate enough to work with refugees each day, who show us the human heart of the crisis, as they go about the everyday struggles of life as a displaced person.
On World Refugee Day 2019, we’re sharing just a few of the stories of the real refugees we’ve met; people we’ve helped, healed, laughed with, cried with and broken bread with. The refugee crisis is a human crisis, which means that amidst the struggle there is hope, resilience and always love.
"I had to give the boatman my wedding ring."
Kolima is a 27 year old widow and mother-of-two who lives in Cox's Bazar after fleeing violence in Myanmar. Kolima comes along to one of Penny Appeal's Women Friendly Spaces for counselling, support and protection.
Like most Rohingya women we work with, Kolima's story is one of tragedy - but it's also one of resilience and the power of the loving communities we are creating together.
"When I feel tense or very sad and upset I come to Penny Appeal’s Women Friendly Space for peace. When I come here, I talk with the counsellors and try to manage my problems.
I have no husband; I'm living only for my children, my two sons. My husband was killed seven months ago in Myanmar.
I needed to pay a lot of money per person for the boat, but I didn't have much money so I paid the boatmen in gold – I had to give him my wedding ring.
I'm really worried here because I have no husband and I live alone. I don't feel safe in the camps. I feel very afraid at night. And I'm worried about the monsoons – twice my roof has blown off when it was raining very heavily.
I don't have any friends outside the centre to share problems with. But I have lots of friends here, which is why I like coming here."
Hassan, Naime and Sarah, Turkey
"We just take it one day at a time."
Hassan, Naime and Sarah all giggled far too much for us to take a perfect photograph of them!
Penny Appeal's Winter Emergency response teams met the adorable Hassan, Naime and Sarah during one of our winter distributions, where we gave their family food, warm clothes and blankets to help them cope through the winter.
Tragically, these three sisters lost their parents in Aleppo two years ago, before fleeing to Kilis, Turkey, with their extended family. Their Aunt told us of their struggles to care for these beautiful orphaned girls.
"Our life in Kilis is not easy. There is no way to make money, so we do what we can and we rely on the help of people like Penny Appeal. Sometimes, we have to send the girls to bed without dinner. Those are the worst days. But we just have to take it one day at a time."
"We help all people; Muslim, Christian, anyone."
Maryam is an Iranian refugee who volunteers at Meeting Point, a community organisation which offers practical and emotional support for refugees and asylum seekers, which Penny Appeal have supported for years.
Maryam is an incredibly positive person, who has worked to create light and joy in her life, even after being forced to leave her family behind, enduring a difficult journey to the UK and currently undertaking the complicated asylum process. She is a wonderful volunteer and a caring person, with so much to give.
"My name is Maryam, and I’ve been in the UK for 8 months. Coming to the UK as a refugee was very difficult for me. I didn't speak English, and I was so depressed.
Sometimes, I needed food for me and my son. I came to Meeting Point and they helped me. Meeting Point and Penny Appeal welcome everyone. They help everyone.
Now, I am a refugee and I volunteer in the kitchen at Meeting Point. I'm very, very happy to help. We help all people; Muslim, Christian, anyone."
"I don't actually know what would have happened to my family without Penny Appeal."
Afaf is a 37-year-old mother of eight children living inside Dheisheh Refugee Camp, a Palestinian refugee camp located just south of Bethlehem in the West Bank.
When Afaf's husband took ill, he could no longer work to support their family, and Afaf feared for their lives because she was unable to feed her eight hungry children alone.
With no money and no way of earning a living, Afaf's family struggled to survive. Then Afaf got involved in Penny Appeal's Rooftop Gardens, and her fortunes changed.
Rooftop Gardens is a new kind of social project where women are trained in gardening and horticulture and then provided with everything they need to grow their own crops.
Through the Rooftop Gardens project, Afaf now has a greenhouse built on the roof of her house. In four short months she has succeeded in feeding her family and selling more than 45kg of healthy organic vegetables to surrounding families.
"I actually don't know what would have happened to my family without the generous support of Penny Appeal."
Afaf said, crying: "Thanks God, and thank you Penny Appeal for your support."
Rozina and Saifullah, Cox's Bazar
"You really played an enchanted role."
As the youngest of five children, Saifullah used to receive much of his parent's attention. Recently, Saifullah became an older brother, and so he began to get less attention. Sensing this, Saifullah would leave his home, roaming the camp in search of friends and places to play.
Penny Appeal's Child Friendly Facilitator, Nigar, heard about Saifullah during a community outreach session. With a newborn baby, his parents were finding it difficult to keep track of Saifullah and give him the attention he needed. Saifullah had at times wandered off into the jungle or up onto the hills alone, which was extremely dangerous.
Concerned about his wellbeing, Nigar encouraged Saifullah's parents to let him join the sessions at the Women and Child Friendly Space, where Saifullah would be able to meet other children and play in a safe environment.
Even though he was really nervous to join in with the other children at first, Saifullah now looks forward to the daily play sessions and is building his confidence with the support of Nigar – who Saifullah now calls 'apu'.
"It is magical that Saifullah wants to go to your Child Friendly Space regularly. Usually, he doesn't feel comfortable with everyone, and he has been very tetchy after the displacement. You really played an enchanted role." - Rozina, Saifullah's mother
On World Refugee Day, these are just 5 individual stories out of 25 million.
But every story – every person – is important, valued and loved by Allah (swt).
Thank you for taking the time to read and learn more about some of these people's journeys on World Refugee Day 2019. We hope you'll continue to support Penny Appeal's amazing work as we help and empower refugees around the world.