World Refugee Day

If you’ve never lived in a refugee camp, you can’t understand how people can survive. And if you’ve never had the chance to work with refugees, you may never understand the resilience of Palestinian refugees. Last week, we paused to recognize World Refugee Day.

Here are some of the stories from Nablus, Palestine:

Basma, 55 years old, from Balata Refugee Camp says, “Sometimes I feel jealous of people from the city of Nablus. Not because they are better than us. But because they have space to cry.” When Basma was a child, living with 10 people in one room, there was no space from childhood. People were always yelling at children to be quiet because of the small living spaces.

Nuha, 27 years old, from El Ein Camp enjoyed her childhood because she didn’t know any differently. She thought everyone in the world had the same experiences as hers. When she went to 5th grade in the public schools, outside of the UNRWA schools, she faced huge challenges. “I felt rejection from my classmates and teachers. People avoided me and I’ve overheard girls making comments about me because I come from refugee camp. I remember when I cried at home, not wanting to go to school. My uncle who lives in the same house, always said, ‘they are not better than you.’ But as a child, I didn’t know what that meant. The hardest part of it all was when I started building friendships outside of the camp. I began facing rejection from my sisters. To this day, I still struggle with this dynamic. I struggle with being myself and my right to select my friends, but the burden on my shoulders of being a refugee is still a problem.”

Said, 22 years old, from Askar Refugee Camp said, “I wish I lived outside of the camp. And some people can if they have the money to do so. But for us, we see camps as a symbol for survival and for our rights. Having camps shows the world that there’s injustice and we have a right to at least recognize what happened to us. But I believe that we need to think about how we can provide a stable life for kids from camps while still protecting their rights as refugees.”

When Said first came to TYO, he felt that providing these types of programs to children is their right. These programs will let the kids realize that they have choices, and they will get the chance to interact with kids outside of their camp. Basma said, “I feel that TYO is my home away from home. I can be myself in this space. And I can even cry here, uninterrupted. Having kids from different camps – even for just two hours – means a lot. I know what it’s like to be in a room all day, without sunlight. And TYO provides light for these children.


Suhad is the Psychosocial Program Manager