To mark World Refugee Day, we spoke to Rashna*, who is a client of SHP’s Lambeth Syrian Refugee Resettlement service. SHP works to resettle refugees in both Lewisham and Lambeth as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme.

“In Syria, I was a journalist and an Arabic teacher. I was studying for my masters in psychology. Syria was my home for 30 years, but once the war started, I had to leave. My partner is Christian, and I am Muslim – so we had a lot of problems. We were not allowed to marry, and couldn’t stay in Syria. It was too dangerous for us. 

“My parents died before the war, so I lived with my brother. It was so dangerous for me – there is nothing left in Aleppo. I lost everything. My home, my car, everything.

“After Syria, I lived in Jordon for three and a half years. My partner is a system engineer, and I worked in a refugee camp as a volunteer – I worked with Unicef, the Red Cresent and an Italian aid organisation. I worked with Syrian and Iraqi pregnant women and children mainly, but also men. Everyone. I felt so happy working there, as all I wanted to do was help. But it also made me so sad – I wanted to help everyone, but I couldn’t.

“When I left Syria as a refugee, all I wanted to do was help other refugees. I was desperate to help people in my situation.

“In Jordon, if someone asked me about my history, I would cry. But now, I feel so much happier. I have hope again. I came to London in January. Everything in London is so good. I am relaxed, happy and comfortable – finally

“My family will hopefully come and join me in January – there are 14 of them! I am hoping my partner will come over from Jordon in July. I miss my family, but I don’t feel lonely here – I am with the other refugee families, and we are like a little team. Everyone helps each other, and it is so good to know families are here already to welcome you. I love volunteering and helping other refugees, as I have been helped in the past.

“I have hope for the future. I hope to have everything I want – I want a home, to finally marry my partner, to have a family of my own. I’d love to start studying again, to finish my masters. I want to help other refugees.

“I love cooking. I’m hoping to find work here as a chef, or in a kitchen. People love my hummus! I am working with the other refugee families and SHP to start a social enterprise, to help others who are coming over."

 

 

*name changed