When I grow up, I wish that I could become an orthopedic so that I can help other people in need who are in similar situation as my father," says 11-year old Fatin.

Photo:  Zaynab Mayladan/NRC

New year’s wishes for 2020

New year is a time of reflection, and of looking forward to the year ahead. As we look ahead to 2020, we invite displaced people in Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon to share their wishes and dreams for the future.


I wish...for education and a cricketing career

Belal, 15, is a Pakistani refugee living in Gulan camp, in the south-east of Afghanistan. Here, thousands of refugee families are at risk of losing their basic rights, caught in the middle of a dispute between the Afghan and Pakistani governments, and abandoned by the international community.

Belal, 15, a student who also manages a cricket team, has become a role model for other children of his age. Belal has finished primary school, and since there were no opportunities for secondary education, he simply joined the same class that he had attended before.

“I wish there was a high school and we could continue our studies, before it’s too late,” he says.

Despite these limited opportunities, Belal runs a cricket team. He has a lot of time to practise as there is little else to do in the camp. He wishes to go back to his country and become a national cricket player one day.

“I know how hard life is in this refugee camp and I know it’s hard for every one of us. Through cricket we want to overcome some of the challenges together,” he says with optimism. Photo: Enayatullah Azad/NRC
Read caption Belal, 15, is a Pakistani refugee living in Gulan camp, in the south-east of Afghanistan. Photo: Enayatullah Azad/NRC

Belal is a student who also manages a cricket team. He has become a role model for other children of his age. He wishes to go back to his country and become a national cricket player one day.

“I wish there was a high school and we could continue our studies, before it’s too late. I know how hard life is in this refugee camp and I know it’s hard for every one of us. Through cricket we want to overcome some of the challenges together,” says Belal.

I wish...for a room of my own

Jumana, 47, lives in the Al Shati refugee camp near Gaza City, Palestine. Her family is one of thousands in Gaza struggling to cope with rising unemployment and declining government support.

Jumana Murad, 47, in her bare rented apartment.
In just over seven years, Jumana, who lives in Al Shati refugee camp near Gaza City, lost four of her children.
Juliana died at age 17 in 2012 after she accidentally took the wrong medication for a severe stomach ache. Just over a year later, Lina, 14 at the time, died when she fell from the fourth floor of a building. Jumana says her son, Qusai, inhaled smoke from Israeli shells fired during the first major round of hostilities, which ran from December 2008 to January 2009, and developed respiratory problems that contributed to his death in 2014 at age 6. 
This year, Jumana grieved the loss of her 19-year-old daughter, Jasmin, who died from complications of kidney failure.
Medical bills have left the family in debt. 
All told, the family owes 2,900 NIS (US$825) for groceries, prescriptions, and rent. Unpaid promissory notes to landlords have landed Jumana’s husband, Adel, a tailor by profession, in prison since July 2018. After losing his job at a factory in Israel, he worked as a cleaner in Gaza until health problems resulted in too many absences and he was let go. 
According to the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, some 2,000 households faced the risk of eviction in 2018 over inability to pay rent. As of August this year, the Ministry of Social Development pegged the number of families under eviction risk at 9,356. 
Evictions have become routine for Jumana and her family over the past two years. They have found themselves often sleeping on the street or at the port several times.
“When we were in the tent in the street, we felt very embarrassed whenever people walked past us,” said Jumana. “We tried to cover ourselves with plastic and carton sheets. We did not have water, so we could not shower, and our poor personal hygiene caused us skin problems.”
While in the tent and on the street, the family relied on the owner of a nearby restaurant and goodwill from other people for food. Jumana’s boys also scavenged the local market for leftovers near spoiled vegetables to complement their diet of bread and tea.
All five of Jumana’s surviving children dropped out of school because of the number of times they have been forced to move after getting evicted from their home, as well as lack of funds for school fees, uniforms, and transportation. Ali and Mohammad, 15, completed first grade only; their siblings Jenin, 17, and Saed, 16, made it to second grade, and Diana graduated from fifth grade.
The family receives 1,600 NIS (US$453) in cash assistance from the Ministry of Social Development every three months, which are often delayed or incomplete, and UNRWA food vouchers, but often uses them to repay grocery debts. In fact, more than half of the households surveyed by NRC resorted to selling the assistance received.
Since May, Jumana’s family has received cash-for-rent from NRC, as part of a project funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support 280 vulnerable households to stave off the threat of eviction.
“We are terrified of living on the street after the cash-for-rent assistance from NRC finishes,” said Jumana. “We always think about what we are going to do after the end of the project. I dream about having one room for myself one day.”
The loss of the children, “one after the other," as Jumana says, has taken its toll, physically and psychologically, on the surviving family members. Adel, and Jumana’s oldest son, Ali, both have psychological problems and require expensive prescriptions.  
Ali, was only 15 when he had witnessed his sister plummet to her death. A four-month stint in a psychiatric hospital barely scratched the surface, and he increasingly turned to drugs and crime. Now 21, he has been serving a seven-year sentence for numerous robbery convictions since 2017.
While the prison has granted Ali furlough on weekends, he has used the time, together with his family, to participate in the Great March of Return mass protests on Fridays along Gaza’s perimeter fence with Israel. Without hope or prospects for the future, Jumana says they take advantage of the free transportation to attend the demonstrations for a sense of stress release from their daily lives.
Unfortunately, Ali, his sister and father were unable to escape injury. 
Ali was shot twice in the leg, in separate incidents in 2018, sustaining serious nerve and artery damage. His latest injury occurred in January this year, when a rubber-coated steel bullet fractured his nose. 
Diana, 18, sustained shrapnel wounds to her left arm and thigh in 2018. In March this year, a tear gas canister struck her in the right shoulder. While Diana’s father looked for her amid the crowds, he fell to the ground with a bullet wound to the leg. Complications arising from diabetes and kidney problems have stalled his recovery.
Photo taken on 21 August 2019
Photo: Ahmed Mashharawi/NRC
Read caption Jumana, 47, lives in the Al Shati refugee camp near Gaza City, Palestine. Photo: Ahmed Mashharawi/NRC

A mother of five, Jumana struggles to make ends meet and is fighting to stave off eviction. She has recently been receiving cash-for-rent from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), but worries about what the future holds.

“We are terrified of living on the street after the cash-for-rent assistance from NRC finishes. We always think about what we are going to do after the end of the project. I dream about having a room to myself one day,” says Jumana.

I wish...for peace and family reunion

Shamsedine, 44, is a Syrian refugee living in the Bekaa Valley area of eastern Lebanon. Hosting displaced people from Syria and Palestine, Lebanon has the highest number of refugees per capita in the world. This has put pressure on public services. Refugees cannot legally work and it’s difficult to move freely without fear of arrest or detention.

My wish for this new year is for the war in Syria to end so that the children of Syria can be safe. The country needs stability so that people can return and be united again. Before the war families were united and loved ones always saw each other. I haven’t seen my brother for 5 years who live in another part of Lebanon because our financial conditions don’t allow for it. 

Photo: Zaynab Mayladan/NRC
Read caption Shamsedine, 44, is a Syrian refugee living in the Bekaa Valley area of eastern Lebanon. Photo: Zaynab Mayladan/NRC

“My wish for this new year is for the war in Syria to end so that the children of Syria can be safe. The country needs stability so that people can return and be united again. Before the war, families were united and loved ones always saw each other. I haven’t seen my brother for five years. He lives in another part of Lebanon and our financial conditions don’t allow for it,” says Shamsedine.

I wish...for my children to have a good education

Fatima, 39, is a Syrian refugee living in Mount Lebanon governate in western Lebanon.

I wish my family could be resettled so that my children can pursue their education. That’s all I hope for, that they can get a good education.

Photo: Zaynab Mayladan/NRC
Read caption Fatima, 39, is a Syrian refugee living in Mount Lebanon governorate, Lebanon. Photo: Zaynab Mayladan/NRC

“The hope is gone but we have dreams. I dream that my family could be resettled so that my children can pursue their education. That’s all I hope for, that they can get a good education to have a better future,” says Fatima.

I wish...to be an orthopaedic surgeon

Fatin, 11, is a Syrian refugee who also lives in Mount Lebanon governorate, Lebanon.

When I grow up, I wish that I could become an orthopedic so that I can help other people in need who are in similar situation as my father," says 11-year old Fatin.

Photo:  Zaynab Mayladan/NRC
Read caption Fatin (left), 11, is a Syrian refugee who lives in Mount Lebanon governorate, Lebanon. Photo: Zaynab Mayladan/NRC

“I wish that I can become an orthopaedic surgeon when I grow up, so that I can help other people in need who are in similar situation as my father,” says Fatin.

I wish...for a new life in a new country

Ali, 18, is a Syrian refugee living in the Bekaa Valley area of eastern Lebanon.

I wish I could be resettled to a third country. There is no future for me here and in Syria I’m going to be forced to conscription. The only way I could get a better life is by leaving for another country. 

I also wish that the Arab states and international community could find a solution for the youth. We are living a very difficult life and we need their support to live in decency. 

Photo: Zaynab Mayladan/NRC
Read caption Ali, 18, is a Syrian refugee living in the Bekaa Valley area of eastern Lebanon. Photo: Zaynab Mayladan/NRC

“I wish I could be resettled in a third country. There is no future for me here, and in Syria I would be forced into conscription. The only way I can get a better life is by leaving for another country. I also wish that the Arab states and international community could find a solution for the youth. We are living a very difficult life and we need their support to live in decency,” says Ali.

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