When so much news about refugees is politically driven and purposefully used to stoke societal fears and xenophobia, we offer an alternative.
As we move into the holiday season we’re taking a moment to reflect on what it means to be a refugee.
Becoming a refugee is not a choice, it’s a desperate action prompted by fear and survival. Your everyday life suddenly turned upside down – all you love and all you know is ripped away, and your survival instinct kicks in.
A refugee is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence. They cannot return home or are afraid to do so.
Rasha was 37 years old when she was forced to leave Aleppo in Syria.“We had a beautiful warm home, it was small but we were happy”, she recounts. “I wanted to continue my education and become a doctor.”
But the war destroyed Rasha’s dreams. “We fled the war to avoid death. We were hungry and we were frightened, I wanted the best for my kids so we fled for a better future.”
Like Rasha, many of the women who work with Love Welcomes have fled the brutal war in Syria. Most left their home by foot and walked with their children through Turkey carrying just a small bag with them.
Governments in Europe have made it immensely difficult for families – including those with young children – to make a safe journey. The lack of safe passage for people fleeing war means many put their lives at risk in small boats crossing the Mediterranean Sea.
The journey is gruelling, but they have no choice. Rasha remembers that she dreamt of a safe and warm home and education for her children.
For those who survive the journey, they are often left traumatized. In refugee camps they begin to rebuild their lives step by step, but far from a loving welcome, they often face distrust, a lack of services and limited opportunities.
Rasha fled with her children in order to give them a safe childhood and hope of a future life. But the reality around the world is that refugees on average can end up in camps for as long as 18 years. Many children spend their entire childhoods in the tough environment of a camp.
Rasha reflects on her own journey. “I would treat a refugee like a relative, host them in my home because if they were not in need, they wouldn’t have left their home.”
Love Welcomes challenges the perception and treatment of refugees around the world with a response focused on dignity, inclusion and economic and social well-being. We know that through a safe community, job opportunities and skills, we can provide each woman with an environment of support. This is a transformational combination for overcoming trauma, leading to hope and – critically – to resilience. In short, it offers a pathway out of the refugee camp.
Fundamental to our approach is that we don’t treat women as ‘refugees’. We treat them as women, as mothers, as sisters, as workers, as people. As Rasha says, “ I am more than a refugee, I am a human and have the right to live like anyone.”
We’re so grateful to our team; they are humans first of all. As women who were forced to become refugees, each one deserves a loving welcome. Join us in supporting the women at Love Welcomes this holiday season through our range of gifts that go further