World Refugee Day: Faaiza’s Story
Faaiza is eight years old. Her father holds her close, explains the plan one last time, and then tearfully leaves her behind. She watches her parents and siblings make their way through the chaos of the Syrian border into Lebanon. Trucks rumble past and the crowd presses around her, blocking her view. And suddenly, Faaiza’s family is gone — and she is alone.
“My papers were not in order, so they let everyone in my family through except for me,” Faaiza recalls. “I was stuck on the other side of the Syrian border.” This is the life of a refugee. Faaiza’s neighborhood near Aleppo exploded into violence four days before. Having no time to prepare, they fled with all their hands could carry. Their only comfort was the fact they were alive and together — at least until they reached the border.
Stepping out of the view of the guards, Faaiza reaches down and pulls up a handful of dirt from her homeland — Syria. She rubs it on her face and hands, smearing it with the sweat from her long journey. Faaiza tears her clothes and completes the disguise. In just a few moments, she has reduced herself from the daughter of a middle class Syrian plumber to a beggar. With her hands outstretched and her eyes on the barbed wire fence — the only thing separating her from her family — she slips past the guards, crossing into Lebanon by herself. “God helped me find my family,” she says. “He didn’t leave me by myself.”
Convoy of Hope’s team met Faaiza a few years ago as we handed her a small space heater to protect her family from freezing temperatures. Her warm smile cut through the cold wind blowing about the dilapidated Beirut neighborhood where her family lives. For the last few years, Faaiza and her family have been scraping together the pieces of their lives. But, they now have hope for a brighter future. As our team says goodbye to Faaiza, the girl who navigated the border by herself, she turns to her mother and holds out the small space heater. She wants to offer it to another family in their neighborhood whose house isn’t as warm as theirs. Despite all she’s been through, Faaiza’s kindness has never waned.