Dead to Red Race: I Choose to Run for the Refugee
"We live in the age of the refugee, the age of the exile"
– Ariel Dorfman
When I was in university, I learnt about the refugee crises of the world. But learning about world conflict and its impact cannot compare to meeting a refugee with a name, an identity, a person. Often, we get so used to this kind of work, what we refer to as Emergencies and Development that we forget the one person, and rather, we focus on the statistic; refugees just become another group of people to us, just another target "client."
We forget about the story of Shukri, a women whose husband was killed in Somalia, a woman who was gang-raped on her way to Kenya, but still made it to the Dadaab refugee camps and still finds reasons to smile amidst the chaos. I met Shukri a few years ago, during the 2011 Horn of Africa crisis, and she remains etched in my mind as the story of the refugee, of a person who had to leave her home and everything that she knew because of senseless conflict. She is one of over 10 million people around the world who have had to forcibly leave their homes due to conflict.
Two thousand miles away from Dadaab, in the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, there are over 100,000 refugees, making it stand amongst the world’s largest refugee camps in the world, after Dadaab, the largest. Apart from these refugees in the camp, there are thousands of other Syrian refugees in Jordan’s urban centres, including Amaan. In fact, 70 percent of all Syrian refugees in Jordan live in urban centres.
In these places, as in Dadaab, there are Syrian children, women and men, each with a name, each with an identity. They may be different from those in Dadaab in the way they look and the language they speak, but they share one thing; that very being of a refugee. Each of those Syrians is a person who doesn’t know if they will be able to return home soon, or ever return home at all. Each one of those Syrians had to flee their homes, little much with them except the clothes on their backs and a few other items. Imagine such an existence for yourself. A life where, after having been a university professor in Somalia or a doctor in Syria, you are reduced to simply a refugee, with no rights to work in your host country, no way of taking care of your family’s needs without having to depend on donations.
While these two groups of people have never met each other, they have the world’s attention. Dadaab, having been in existence for over two decades, remains on the world stage, while Zaatari and the urban centres in Jordan have held our attention over the past three years since the Syrian crisis erupted. Women and children in particular, in both places, bear the brunt of the chaos.
CARE has a long history of humanitarian assistance in refugee crises around the world. To date, we continue to provide assistance to the majority Somali refugees in Dadaab and to Syrian refugees in Jordan with food distribution, shelters, water, sanitation and hygiene, and psychosocial support, recognizing that a good support network is essential to recovery of refugees from a war-torn zone.
I am running in the Dead Sea to Red Sea Marathon on 13th March because I believe in CARE’s work to help the refugees, and I want the world to know that refugees around the world still need our help, and that there is still so much more to be done with refugee crises. Any one of those refugees could be any one of us.
I am also going to deliver messages to Syrian children from children in the Dadaab refugee camps, many of whom have been born as refugees and know no other life apart from their current existence. Despite their circumstances, these children in Dadaab want to give hope to their Syrian brothers and sisters in Jordan, to tell them that they are not alone, that the children of Dadaab know exactly what it is like to have to leave your home and everything that you know, to tell them that they are holding their hands. I am also hoping to take messages from the Syrian children back to Dadaab, to create a lasting link between these two vulnerable populations.
We as the world owe it to the refugee, to that single person with that single identity, with their joys and sorrows, to fundraise and do more for refugees, to ensure that they can live a dignified life despite their circumstances, as a brotherhood of humanity. So support my mission, and support CARE with this cause.
While you may not be in Jordan in March, there are other ways you can support the team and CARE’s work:
- Make a contribution that will go directly to helping people caught in the conflict >
- Create your own online race team and challenge your friends meet your goal >
- Are you the person who has everything? Ask for a donation in lieu of a birthday gift >
- Spread the word using #Dead2Red and #withSyria — and keep up on Facebook and Twitter >