“My religion is myself and my nationality is my heart”: Five days inside a refugee’s diary

The Babunnur Refugee Camp in Aleppo. Photo: IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation/Flickr
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During her internship with UN-aligned, Jihan Al-Assad was asked to write about her life inside the refugee camp in Lebanon. Her experiences, along with those of other refugees are published in a new series titled Diaries from Refugee Camps

Wednesday 1/12/2021

It’s the beginning of a new month and the end of a whole year. This does not feel like the beginning of a month or a day or anything new. I am afraid because I don’t know exactly what is coming to me, and this idea is a big horror for me. 

Today I decided to go out to the city to buy some needs from outside the camp. I was neither happy nor sad, maybe because I forgot how to be happy. I just smile because people told me that my smile gives them optimism, and for them I do everything. I went to the market, but my shock at the high prices was terrible, especially since I work. My salary is not much because I am a foreigner who is not considered by the Lebanese authorities and I do not have the right to work here.

My religion is myself and my nationality is my heart Five days inside a refugees diary 2

Then I said to myself: “I’ll buy a book as usual.” So I actually went and bought a book called ‘Despair is a Human Graveyard’

I sat in my favorite cafe and had my special juice thinking about my days, my future and my despair, which never left me, even though I was really trying. I came back to the tent at the end of the day with a smile and carrying my angry heart, which no one would care about. 

Thursday 2/12/2021, 

I woke up ready for another day full of work, pressures and darkness because electricity is our dream.

My mother always makes me feel like a child and she fears for me and even for herself. Since we came to the camp, fear is the master of our lives. We feel that we live and do not live at the same time…. 

I went out of my house looking into the eyes of the little kids and envying them because they haven’t grown up yet. I look at their faces and I’m sad that life hasn’t done me justice or done them justice, as they laugh and know nothing. 

It was the end of my day with a hard day’s work, and I’m repeating,” I wish I hadn’t really been older.” 

Friday 3/12/2021 

Today I am supposed to have no work and it is a day of rest for me, but they say in my country that every human being has a share of his name, so my name means life and is life a relief? 

My writing is sad and painful, but I’m trying so hard to be happy, but nothing helps me. 

Today there was a problem in the camp and everyone was cursing Syrians and refugees without paying attention to our feelings or humanity. Is the word refugee really so insulting! But I’m a refugee and I smile because I consider myself a resistance fighter in this world that doesn’t need cowards like them who insult, steal and kill under the name of humanity and religion. 

My religion is myself and my nationality is my heart and color is the color of the oppressed in all parts of the world.

I’m like them and for them. And I am like their dancing and laughing, but I’m all wounds and pains. 

Saturday and Sunday 

Nothing worth talking about.

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