Never Let Go: refugees show their treasured belongings

06 March 2019

Topics: Refugees "Syrian Civil War"

We have all at one time or another talked about what we would take if we had to leave our homes. If a bushfire came, or flooding forced an evacuation. When war came to Syria eight year ago and the bombs started falling, millions of families had to make decisions on what to bring and what to leave behind.

Some could leave only with the clothes on their back after their homes were destroyed, others took reminders of lost friends and family, and many held onto objects and symbols of spirituality.

Over the years, we've met with hundreds of Syrian refugee families in Jordan who've shared their stories with us. We wanted to know about the things they took with them that connect them to their past, so we asked them: what is your most precious object?

Jaliyah: praying for protection

When the war came to her home in 2012, Jaliyah avoided fleeing her home until the very end. But when the bombing and shooting put her family’s life at risk, she finally decided to leave: “It was just our family and our neighbours who remained. All the other families in the neighbourhood had already gone, but then the situation got much worse and we left too.” 

She took her prayer beads with her, praying for protection and safe passage across the border.


Yahir: keeping strong and healthy

Yahir lives in a refugee camp in Jordan, where he no longer has the games and toys he used to play with in Syria. Except for old football he brought from home, which he shares with other kids, the new friends he's made in the camp.


Farid: a connection with God

Long before the war came to Syria, Farid was given the Quran as a gift from his cousin. He told us, “the Quran is a thing which attaches a person to their God, for Muslims it should be their most precious object.” Farid has held onto his Quran since he was a boy; and still he didn’t let go when he and his family were forced to leave everything behind.


Kaleigh: overcoming fear

The thudding of the bombs, the cracking of firefights, and the sound of warplanes flying overhead: these were the sounds of war that terrified Kaleigh’s children.

When they began to cry, Keleigh would fill the “goblet of fear”, a bowl of ancient heritage, with water and bless it “in the name of Allah.” When the children drunk from the goblet, Kaleigh told us, their fear would ease, helping them get through the worst moments of the war.


Tariq: a reminder of home

What remains of Tariq’s home can be held in his hands. His prayer beads are the only thing he took with him on his way out of Syria. As Tariq has never enjoyed the opportunity of education – he cannot read the scriptures nor write his prayers – his beads are an important tool to help him remember the Quranic verses as he prays daily in the refugee camp.


Show refugees we're with them, not against them

Eat the same rations as a Syrian refugee during Refugee Week – just a small amount of rice, flour, lentils, chickpeas, beans, fish and oil – and get sponsored to do it.  By taking the Ration Challenge, you’ll be supporting men, women, and children fleeing violence and conflict in Syria as well as other communities impacted by conflict and disaster around the world.

Take the Ration Challenge today, and show refugees we're with them, not against them.