Collecting our Syrian refugee family – An emotional experienceHumayun Saleem
When I was invited to be a part of the collection team, I was surprised but joyous. I had been working behind the scenes on the project and it would be a real pleasure to meet the family on their arrival. What I hadn’t anticipated was to feel as emotional as I did.
Waiting for them to come through the arrival gates made me anxious and teary. The thought of the family arriving here safely after the hardship and troubles they had endured brought feelings of happiness with an undertone of deep sadness. I had been briefed earlier on in the project about the family’s situation and it had been heart-wrenching to hear.
It was an emotional moment greeting them and finally putting faces to names but Alhumdulilah they were here and we would look after them.
Saif is the 11-year-old orphaned child who has been living with his sister and I noticed that he was very apprehensive when I went to greet him at the airport. We gave him some space and figured that he had become detached and distrusting due to the conditions he has been living in and most likely the situations that he has been exposed to. We know all too well that it’s an extremely tough life in refugee camps.
Our little innocent 6-year-old Mahmoud who has known nothing other than his tent in the refugee camp happily drew his tent to show us his home that he had come from and kept us all in high spirits on our journey back.
Whilst unloading, I noticed how our family had travelled all the way from the Lebanon refugee camp to the UK with two small holdalls and was initially surprised with the little luggage they had for a family of six. They had just come here with more or less the clothes that were on their backs. On reflection, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise and it showed the true extent of the dire situation they were in and the help they needed.
We showed them around their new home and settled them in. Mahmoud couldn’t contain himself and was extremely happy with his new home – I don’t think he stopped circuiting the house whilst I was there.
I caught a glimpse of Saif’s face with a slight smile after an hour or so of being in the house which was touching and his sister mentioned how this was the first time she had seen Saif actually smile in a long while.
We helped them settle in as much as we could and explained some of the essential information they needed. A Syrian sister had volunteered to make them a Syrian meal. After their food arrived we left them to rest, they had made a long journey to their new home.
It was only until I left the family to rest and contemplated the day that the realisation came for me.
Although they had arrived here in the UK, they still had a very long journey to make. The journey to settle in this land and be able to call it their new home. They will still be heavily reliant on support from us for their basic necessities for the foreseeable future.
I believe that we are merely tools in the Almighty’s greater plan. We are made aware of situations like these as opportunities for us to help in and earn the reward by whatever we provide for them.