Four years ago, we brought you the story of Islam from Askar Refugee Camp in Nablus. On the occasion of World Refugee Day, we caught up with Islam who is now in the 8th grade. This is his story in his own words:
I hate the word “refugee”. I know my family is originally from Yaffa and that we had to flee our homes when the Israeli’s took our land. We ran away to be safe and this is why they call us refugees.
I go to a UN school that is very crowded. There is a lot of violence in the school. Boys are very aggressive and hit each other a lot over silly things. The reason is that they don’t have fathers who are concerned about them or teach them discipline. The teachers are even worse. They hit us with hoses and other objects.
When I come home, if I want to play I have to do so in the street because there is nowhere else to go.
People are always angry, fighting over money because they are poor. It’s really scary and not safe.
The camp is very poor, most men don’t work, and our houses are damaged and very weak. I know some families who don’t have enough food to eat which makes me sad but I can’t do anything because our situation is not better. You can’t trust anyone because you don’t know what they will do for money.
When I walk, run, or go to school, I feel so sad when I see a special needs child. His parents can’t provide him with a wheelchair to use so they have to carry him. They leave him outside his house just to watch people wandering by.
All of these things make me upset and hate the word refugee, because it isn’t fair to have all of these struggles and not be able to do anything about it.
I was born and raised in the camp for 14 years and this is the life I know. I don’t know what I wish because I wasn’t exposed or lived another life or been to another country. When I went on a trip when I was little to Al-Bathan Springs, I thought it was the sea because I had never seen the sea before.
For me, a better life is to have my own bed, my own room, or maybe just a yard outside the house.
My message to the world: Don’t deprive us of our rights and our land. Don’t hurt children. Stop the injustice.
-TYO youth Islam interviewed by TYO staff Suhad Jabi and Futoon Qadri