I recently translated a short documentary on a Syrian refugee family in the Bekaa, East of Lebanon. They had left Syria in 2012 and have been living in Lebanon ever since. It was the first time in more than a year of being in The Netherlands that I got in touch with anything related to Syria. To be honest, I only met a couple of Syrian young men in Amsterdam during my Dutch classes. They had already been living and working in the country for almost two years. Watching this documentary made me emotional. It brought me back to my days in the Bekaa where I spent a lot of time listening to refugees’ stories and trying not to lose hope as years went by and very little changed in their situation.
It all seems so far away here. Or maybe I am no longer that much involved as I used to be- being caught up in my own integration process and all. But on this World Refugee Day, I couldn’t help but think of that Syrian refugee family in the documentary and many others who are still waiting to move on with their lives. In 2011, when I went for the first time to Wadi Khaled in North Lebanon with the purpose of organizing recreational activities for Syrian children who fled Syria with their families, I thought this was temporary. It’s been over six years now and all I can think of today are the changes that can happen to a person’s life in such a long period. Think of what happened in your life in the past six years.
I started my third decade, got married, have two beautiful nephews – one of them is already going to school – moved jobs, got promoted, traveled to Asia for the first time, lost family members and friends, made new friendships, learned a new language, migrated. While the lives of those refugee families I met are still on hold. And they have been on hold for so long.
On World Refugee Day, I think of them all. I hope they will be able to resume living soon.