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

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

Now, top Gujarat "litterateur" close to Modi says: Godse was patriot, so was Gandhi

By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".

India's 80% construction sites "unsafe", deaths 20 times higher than those in Britain

By Rajiv Shah
The Government of India may be seeking to project India’s construction sector as the country’s second-largest employer of the country after agriculture, providing jobs to more than 44 million people, and contributing nearly 9% to the national GDP, yet, ironically, its workforce is more unprotected than any other industrial sector of the country. Data suggest that the possibility of a fatality is five times more likely in the construction industry  than in a manufacturing industry, and the risk of a major injury is 2.5 times higher.

India sans Modi preferable, Congress worthier recipient of Indians’ votes: The Economist

By Our Representative
In a strongly-worded and crucial commentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the electoral political battle is on, influential British weekly “The Economist”, has declared that “Indians, who are in the midst of voting in a fresh election, would be better off with a different leader”, even as pointing out that that under Modi, “India’s ruling party poses a threat to democracy.”