Skip to main content

Zozan, a refugee, dreams of going back to Syria one day, of imparting skills she has acquired to the less fortunate

By Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
There is a steely determination in Zozan. As one listens to this 25-year old woman, one cannot but feel that she will go places. In a very casual way, she shares what she would like to do most in life: to learn new languages and to travel to distant lands.
In some ways, Zozan Hassan Khalil has begun doing both. She has already crossed international boundaries but as a refugee. 
When the war in Syria became just too bad, together with her parents, brother and sister, Zozan had to flee in February 2013, their native town of Al-Hasakah, in northeast Syria. It was not an easy journey. 
The vehicle driver who brought them had the ‘right connections’ at the various checkpoints. They eventually made it into the Kurdistan area of Iraq. Then carrying their few possessions they walked through the mountainous terrain right up to Dohuk.It was not easy, but they now felt safer.
Zozan looks back at the days in Al- Hasakah. She was a student doing her engineering studies when war broke out. Life was comfortable until then. Al- Hasakah a city with a historic past was home to an ethnically diverse population of Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and Armenians. 
She is filled with nostalgia as she remembers her home of her childhood and teenage years. A wave of sadness overwhelms her as she thinks of the violence that has gripped so much of Syria, “there is too much of killing; it will take a long time for peace to return to Syria,” she says with teary eyes.
Her family finally settled in Ankawa in Erbil. Adjusting to a new city, culture and environment was not easy. Nevertheless, Zozan took everything in her stride. Her elder sister is married and settled in Ozal, about 25 kms away from Ankawa. She called Zozan one day to inform her that a team from the JRS Centre in Ozal had come to visit her family. The JRS team had also informed her that the JRS was conducting various programmes for refugees and IDPs. At that time, Zozan was looking for opportunities to do something in life. She immediately contacted the JRS Centre in Ankawa and from then on, she began a new chapter in her life.
She enrolled, for not one, but for three courses at the JRS Centre: English, Kurdish and Computer Education. Three courses at the same time? Rupina Khachik, the JRS Project Director chips in “We allowed her to do all three courses because we saw that she was determined to do so! Zozan came out with flying colours in all of them. We are proud of her!” 
Zozan says she enjoyed doing the courses .The JRS Centre soon became a second home for her. She was given a sense of belonging and acceptance, “I was never treated as someone different: as a Syrian or a refugee. I was made to feel that I belonged here!” She goes on to add, “I have made many new friends coming to JRS, from different religions, nationalities and ethnicities.”
Zozan is effusive about the courses. “They were really very good and so were the teachers. JRS also helped her through some short-term courses, ‘How to write a CV’ and ‘Preparing for a Job Interview’. Zozan feels that JRS empowered her and enabled her to get a good job, as an Administrative Assistant in a Company. A couple of months ago her father died due to a painful illness. She misses him. However, for Zozan life goes on.
Zozan has dreams of going back to Syria one day; of imparting the skills that she has learnt from JRS with others in her country, who are less fortunate. As she shares her dreams, an endearing smile lights up a face. Given her grit and determination, Zozan is bound to go places; her hopes will surely become a reality one day!
---
*Regional Advocacy & Communications Officer, Jesuit Refugee Service, MENA Regional Office, Beirut

Comments

TRENDING

RSS wanted Constitution 'replaced' by Manusmriti which abused Dalits, women

By Shamsul Islam* The Constituent Assembly of India finalized the Constitution of India on November 26, 1949 which is celebrated as the Constitution Day This Constitution promised new born Indian Republic a polity based on democracy, justice, egalitarianism and rule of law. However, RSS was greatly annoyed. Four days after the historic event of approval of it, the RSS English “Organiser” in an editorial on November 30, 1949, complained:

Nuclear energy 'can't solve' global warming, will 'strain' financial, natural resource

Counterview Desk  Taking strong exception to Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who has favoured nuclear energy as a solution to global warning, well-known power and policy analyst Shankar Sharma has said that the IAEA chief's “unsubstantiated advocacy” of nuclear power is associated with “diversion of considerable amounts of scarce resources, both financial as well as natural, of many developing countries, such as India.”

Covid taught us: Exams are cruel process of 'eliminating' those seeking education

By Sandeep Pandey, Seema Muniz, Gopal Krishna Verma* Some people are disheartened with the disruption in children’s education due to the menace of Covid and the successive lockdowns. While a number of children are getting used to attending online classes, their counterparts from the weaker socio-economic backgrounds continue to struggle either because of unfamiliarity with technology or because of having to share a single device with their siblings and/or parents. More unfortunate ones have been completely pushed out of the system which has resulted in the virtual drop in the rate of enrolment.

Book on Bhil rebels offers other side of history, neglected by 'nationalist' historians

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  One of the major accusations against Indian historians is that of neglecting and ignoring the role of the marginalised in the freedom struggle. Most of the time, we are ‘informed’ that there were some ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’ of the freedom movement, all of them belonging to the same stock of caste as well as ‘power’ positions as their opponents.

Mysterious death of Kishenji 'triggered' series of splits in Maoist camp in India

By Harsh Thakor* On November 24 fell the 10th death anniversary of Kishenji, a prominent Maoist leader, he was also a poet, a scientist, and a soldier. Since his school days he dreamt of planting the seed to create new man. Born in 1954 in Peddapally town (in Karimnagar district, north Telangana), Kishenji was raised by his father Venkataiah (a “freedom fighter”, he called him) and a progressive mother, Madhuramma.

Govt of India responsible for 71% delays in NREGA wage payments, say economists

Counterview Desk  In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than 70 economists have urged the Government of India to release “adequate funds” for implementing the rural jobs guarantee scheme under the MGNREGA immediately, pointing out that the pandemic continues to adversely affect the living condition of working families.

Learning to bridge 'huge chasm' between highly educated, illiterate, badly literate

By Shrey Ostwal, Sandeep Pandey*  The pivotal point of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s journey to become Mahatma Gandhi began when his “political guru” – Gopal Krishna Gokhale – advised young Mohandas to travel around India. This rigorous journey was essential for Mohandas to understand his country and countrypersons better if he were to fight the inhumane and unempathetic British regime which had been looting India of its glory for about two centuries then.

Dalits 'celebrate' Constitutional Power Era in 12,500 villages of 16 districts on Nov 26

By Pradip More*  It is a fact that the majority of the people do not have much knowledge about the law, and especially the Constitution. Yet, today's younger generation is becoming increasingly aware of its rights. One wished it would have been good if it was taught about the Constitution well in the schools.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Arrest of top J&K civil society leader shows contempt for international law: PUCL

Counterview Desk  Commenting on the arrest of Kashmiri human rights defender Khurram Parvez, India’s top human rights advocacy group, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has said that the Government of India action is “one more attempt ... to silence peaceful, non-violent dissenters”, adding, it suggests how “a brutalizing state machinery" has been acting.