Alone in Refuge

She came from her country, Syria, with her small family escaping death and destruction. She came without her parents, and left behind many memories of her friends and neighbors. Her last memory was a painful one, but still remains special to her; for she didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to her mother’s resting place. She had passed away recently but the road to the cemetery was far from the small village in Der’aa where she lived. She was able to say goodbye to her father, though. who preferred to stay behind with his second wife, but she doesn’t know when she will be able to see him again.

This is what happened to Raghda; a young woman of 25. I met her in one of the clinics in Zaatari Camp, sitting on a wheelchair. She was diagnosed with Polio from a young age, and this chair is her means of transport inside the camp; her friend that doesn’t leave her side no matter how challenging her life gets.

Her family lives in a difficult social and financial situation, barely having the necessities of life; despite her sister working in a small handicrafts shop inside the amp to make some money to provide some basics for the family.

Raghda misses the love and support that her mother used to give her, and her absence has made Raghda’s life more difficult. None of her siblings agree to go with her to the clinic for check-ups, or even to accompany her to the lavatories. Rather than ease her pain they argue with Raghda constantly, until she started going everywhere on her own to get some peace and quiet away from them. She would ask anyone passing by to help her get to where she wants to go, that way she found a solution and was able to leave the house with the support of others in the community along with aid workers in the camp.

Sometimes she would wonder around looking for other people with disabilities, thinking that they would understand what she is going through and share her pain. However, she remains strong and has great willpower; depending on no one but herself. She would take care of herself; dress herself, and wash herself despite the difficulty it entails. Her dream was to live with dignity outside of the camp, away from her siblings. She saw her happiness living away from them, and this pushed her to approach the Family Protection Department seeking help. The Department took her request into consideration, and through consultations with psychologists working in the camp, Raghda was given permission to leave. However, Raghda’s happiness wasn’t complete, for as soon as she was given permission to leave her siblings denied all what she had said and gave evidence of Raghda’s inability to live by herself. Their beliefs and customs prevent them from accepting that their sister move away from them and live alone. But Raghda did not give up, she informed us that she will appeal and work on getting another approval.



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