Illham Alarabi is one of those indomitable women who takes everything in stride. The kind of unflappable mother who can single-handedly extract her oldest son from a squabble with a bully, soothe the teething pains of another and bathe a baby, all while supper simmers on the stove. Traveling 1,500 miles from her bombed-out village near Deir ez-Zor in Syria to Greece was a hardship, to be sure, but she always comforted her family with faith that they were headed for something better. Even life in squalid Greek refugee camps, where she spent eight months pregnant with her fifth child, offered opportunities to make friends, build communities and find something to laugh about, whether it was the bad food or the midnight treks to the portable toilets in the snow.
But after more than three years of relentless optimism, first as a refugee in Turkey, then again in Greece, she finally gave into despair one day in March. Slumped on a chair in a shabby hotel room in remote northern Greece, she watched her four oldest sons ricochet from bed to wall to floor and back again, barely missing the sleeping baby. Her oldest son Wael, 7, has never set foot in a school. He says he wants to be a teacher when he grows up, but he struggles to write even simple Arabic words, like baba, for the father. “We have been here [in Greece] for a year and two months,” says Illham with a sigh of defeat. “If we had put these kids in school from the beginning, they would at least be reading Greek by now.”
Sep 27, 2020Bangladesh is hosting more than one million Rohingya, a mainly Muslim minority community who are stateless, most of whom fled following a wave of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017. “More than three years have elapsed. Regrettably, not a single Rohingya could be repatriated. The problem was created by Myanmar, and its solution must […]
Sep 26, 2020