While many of us have a home to return to every day seeking shelter and security, countless others have been displaced from where they once belonged and surrendered to the merciless borders where they are looked upon as refugees. Maybe the word has been familiarized and normalized in our minds due to its abundant usage by world media outlets. However, only those suffering the atrocities of war and the sorrows of displacement know well the meaning of being a refugee and the weight of this widespread burden.
The wars, natural disasters, and misfortunes are unfortunately happening on wider scale nowadays. Suffering and displacement are inevitable for those facing such calamities. However the aim of this article is to share awareness and empathy with those courageous people around the world, and in Syria in particular. Being from a neighboring country to Syria, I have witnessed the unbearable circumstances of people fleeing war and carnage, hoping to find a safer shelter for their children and families. I have seen mothers with their children and babies begging for food, and families carrying their modest belongings looking for shelters. Those who manage to secure a shelter, it is nothing more than a tent that easily surrenders to the whims of nature such as snow, floods, rain, and wind.
A home is where we belong, where we save the joyful and sorrowful memories of moments we spent with the loved ones, where we seek shelter and warmth, where we have our families and friends, and where our hearts always dwell. However, when such home becomes a source of fear, war, merciless bloodshed, destruction, anger, and so on, what will happen to our memories, our future, our dreams, and our hopes? Syrian refugees did not have the time to ponder on such questions, as fleeing for a safer shelter wherever it may be was their only concern with the outbreak of a devastating and merciless war. And the same applies to Iraqi refugees, whose losses have become beyond the comprehension of any of us. A decade of war and destruction has rendered the country a living hell and the people chained by despair.
Displacement inflicts a lifetime damage upon a refugee, who is forced to leave behind all what defines him most importantly, their identity. And those who suffer most are the children, who are dragged from one border to another and from one country to another in search for a better future, or at least a safer present. Another inevitable misery in Syria and war stricken countries are those children left with no one to drag them away to a safe premise. What would become of these children in 20 years; in whose hands will they fall; will they ask about their parents; how will they be treated; and what do we expect of them? Those are vital questions to ask and also to answer.
For many of us war is something that we hear about and read about on media outlets. Yet, for refugees, war is something stripping them of their humanity, their rights, their future, their dreams, and their peace of mind. It is denying them a life they deserve to live like the rest of us. It is stealing their memories, their land, their identity, their past, and their whole existence. This is the difference between us and refugees; war is not a piece of news they read about while enjoying the safety of their homes and the serenity of their living rooms, but it is the bombs falling over their heads devouring everything they ever knew, left with only the hope of surviving to make it to the category of refugees, which eventually is their best option.
Maybe we have become used to seeing or hearing about the heartbreaking stories of war, whether in Syria or elsewhere, but that doesn’t mean that we must adapt, or become immune to the sorrows they bring, or be in denial about the shattered lives of refugees around the world. Each and every one of us has enough on their plates, but be assured that the life of a refugee is light years away from the comforts we have, no matter how modest they are, and the everyday privileges we take for granted. Hence a refugee is not merely a political terminology or a generic description of masses seeking and begging for their basic rights, but also a term referring to countless individuals, not so different from us, who do have hopes and resilience to defy despair, build new homes and pursue new dreams.