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Atika Harba

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“Every day my heart squeezes with sadness and pain”: An Interview with Amna, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon’s Arsal Camp

Arsal Camp, Refugee camp
Photo: A Syrian Refugee in Lebanon, © Medair/EU/ECHO/Kate Holt/Flickr

During her internship with UN-aligned, Atika Harba was asked to write about life inside the refugee camp in Lebanon. Atika, who at the time of publishing, was a 17-year-old refugee, wrote several articles and diaries that gives readers a glimpse inside the difficult life of inside the refugee camp.

The following interview was conducted in November 2021.

Tell me about yourself and your children?

My name is Amna; I am 33 years old. I live in Lebanon in a Syrian refugee camp. I have two children, a son and a daughter. My husband was lost in Syria, and I fled with my children from the war and came to Arsal to seek safety away from the difficult conditions of the war that destroyed our lives and the childhood of my children. I tried to work to meet the needs of my children, but I could not for fear of leaving them alone in the tent and I wanted to teach them and follow their school lessons.

What difficulties did you go through?

I suffered a lot until I enrolled them in Lebanese schools in order to guarantee them a brighter future that would change our situation for the better. We encountered many difficulties, a new curriculum, new schools, new people…

We tried to overcome these difficulties, and I always, despite the sadness and loneliness that afflicted my heart, try to instill hope in them and belief that it is impossible for this situation to last. These crises must clear up and a new sun will shine that will change our situation and our lives. They are the ones who will change this life with their knowledge and effort.

What makes you sad sometimes?

Indeed, every day my heart squeezes with sadness and pain when my child asks me for the simplest thing and I am unable to secure it for him, which is one of his rights. This is my current situation and the situation of many women whose husbands’ lives were taken by the war and they bear the responsibility of raising their children.

What makes you happy and what do you dream about?

The comfort to all of us is that life continues, so we must not despair of the status quo and strive to change it with science and knowledge until this black cloud that has clouded my country and turned the lives of its people upside down is removed and we can return to it.

I cannot protect against the cold of winter or the heat of summer, but I am very happy when I see my children happy, and sad for their sadness. I will do what I can to lead them to fulfill their dreams despite the roughness of life.

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Border Bullies: Weaponising citizenship

In this issue of The Gordian, we talk about the concept of citizenship and why our primary duty should be to humankind and not the state. This issue contains more exclusive reports by, our Art Editor, Carla Pietrobattista; our virtual interns, Atika Harba and Jihan Al-Assad; and other UN-aligned members, namely, Partho Pratim Chatterjee, Anahita Ahmadi, Ruby Goldenberg and Pouyan Jaberi. The editors are Adrian Liberto and Ariana Yekrangi.

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