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On World Refugee Day, Every Story Matters

The staggering truth is that around the globe, there are nearly 70.8 million children and adults who have been forcibly displaced from the places they called home as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations (UNHCR).

This is the highest level of displacement ever.

That’s 70.8 million people too many. It’s 70.8 million heartbreaks, 70.8 million fears, and 70.8 million times the number of tears cried and footsteps taken.

It’s also 70.8 million stories that matter.

Today, we honor refugees on the Islamic Relief USA Relief Lab blog by sharing with you one of those stories: the story of Fahima.*

Fahima was born in Somalia, but as only a young child became an orphan after the loss of her father. Shortly after, devastating drought and famine forced her to flee her home country with her mother. For some time, they lived in inadequate conditions and feared violent attacks at night from groups of armed men.

After a series of displacements, they eventually reached the border of Kenya where they registered as refugees and moved to the Dadaab refugee camp in 2016.

Dadaab is the third-largest complex of refugees in the world. As of May 2019, Dadaab hosts over 200,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers in three camps, as it is the base of an UNHCR site.

After joining the camp, Fahima was soon enrolled in the Islamic Relief USA orphan sponsorship program. Her mother shared, “When my daughter was first enrolled in the IR orphan sponsorship program, I felt very happy and I rejoiced a lot. This humane intervention came at the hour of need when we were in need of assistance.”

Later, her mother obtained a job with UNHCR as a temporary cleaner.

Before the sponsorship, Fahima and her mother were living in a worn out tent, cooking food in an open space. Fahima’s mother was able to use some of the the sponsorship income to buy two female goats that provided them with milk. One gave birth, allowing her to save even more money that she had been spending on powdered milk.

The sponsorship also enabled them to build a house with solid walls and a metal roof, as well as a kiosk in their part of the camp in Dadaab where they began to sell goods.

“Your help enabled us to have a roof over our heads and food on our tables,” shared Fahima’s mother. “I never thought I could make extra income in this camp. It’s your support that has opened my eyes and now I feel more confident to take charge of my future again.”

Like many young girls in the camp, education remains a priority for Fahima despite her family condition. Fahima was able to enroll in school, and now exudes a confidence that makes it seem as if she is unperturbed by her family’s refugee status. She works hard at her schoolwork and does not shy away from speaking of her dream of becoming a teacher.

“I want to learn and continue with my education up to university level,” Fahima says with pride, “My mother ensured that I acquired a school uniform, school bag, stationeries, and shoes. I feel blessed, endowed with assurance of continuing with my education. Thanks to my sponsor, without your help I wouldn’t have reached the level I am now.”

The family used support from Islamic Relief USA to continue to improve their own livelihood by developing their kiosk to include more items, better shelving, and strategic organization. Fahima’s mom was also eventually able to buy a sewing machine with her earnings, which is increasing the family’s income.

Fahima is so hopeful that one day she will realize her dreams of becoming a teacher. She wishes to change the lives of many young children both boys and girls who were not lucky enough to have gotten a chance to go to school like her. She constantly prays that the donor who helped her family is blessed, and that Islamic Relief USA can continue to positively touch more lives.

Fahima’s story may be one of 70.8 million, but her one story matters. It reminds us that, as Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an, “With every difficulty, there is relief.” (94:5)

On #WorldRefugeeDay, every story matters. Let’s honor the stories of those who need us most by doing more. Our aid is their relief.

*Please note that this name was changed for privacy purposes.

Kelly is part of the Communications & External Relations team at Islamic Relief USA.

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