A refugee’s voice

Murda Al-Masri. (Photo: Jordan News)
Murda Al-Masri. (Photo: Jordan News)
I have heard the word “refugee” thousands of times, but I have never thought about what it actually means. On social media, TV channels, or on the radio, I have heard people talking about refugee situations. I was young, looking forward to being an active person in my country and even around the world.اضافة اعلان

My neighbor in my small town in Syria was from a Palestinian family, forced to leave Palestine in 1948.  We lived together, but I never tried to ask them about the feeling of being refugees, and how the forced migration was.

Now I am a refugee, and I’m living with the feelings that millions of people have lived with before. Now I can understand what the TV presenters meant when they talked about the lack of water, lack of shelter, no funding for the basic services for people in need.

In 2012, I didn’t choose to be a refugee. I was forced to leave my country, Syria, where my future, my hope, and my life were. 

A man with tired and sharp facial features said to me: “Rescue your family now. There is no time to gather your bags: bring water and a small hand bag, it’s only a few days until you go back home.”

The green view of the balcony with walls painted sky-blue was the last sight I saw of my room.  I felt that it could be a long time before I was there again. The novel Madame Bovary, which I had started reading, was next to my bed.

It has been nine years and my uncle and I still can’t go back to the olive tree, whose shadow I used to sit in. These were a heavy and long “few days.” 

Hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees are living in Jordan. The majority of them came after the Syrian crisis started in 2011. I’m one of them. They are safe in Jordan, They do not have any fears related to the feeling of security or the infringement of their dignity or basic human rights.

But there are still challenges facing refugees. Being a refugee means that you need to do your best to get your basic needs. In Jordan, Syrian refugees are struggling to make income and pay for their daily needs and for other expenditures. The majority of Syrian refugees in Jordan live in urban areas, so they have to pay rent and other utilities. International organizations have started providing assistance for some of them, but a large number of them don’t get any support regarding their basic needs or utilities.

A large number of Syrian refugees are well-educated, and due to the high level of unemployment rates among Jordanians, especially among graduates; there is a high level of unemployment among educated Syrian refugees as well. Due to the Jordanian Labor Law, refugees are not allowed to work in some “closed professions”, which is why refugees look for any opportunities they can to get jobs, even if those opportunities don’t fit their qualifications. 

Lack of funding is a clear reason why the support for refugees in Jordan has decreased. The amounts that some families were getting have decreased and big humanitarian relief projects have closed unfortunately.

I believe that nations rise because of the educated, and we can measure the development of any state by the level of health care and education provided. Many Syrian refugees in Jordan were forced to leave school due to financial pressures; many children have dropped out of their schools to join work to support their families. It is the most dangerous phenomenon facing the future of this generation.

In general, the dreams of any refugee in this world are very simple: to live in peace and safety, and to go back home where they were born and grew up.

Oh tired uncle; I hope you are fine now. I know you didn’t mean to lie to me when you told me it would only be a “few days” until we returned home. I want to tell you that I have a new life here in Jordan, a nice small family, and I painted my room in a sky-blue color. And I even finished reading Madame Bovary.

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