• Refugee Biriyani & Bananas

A Syrian Mother in Idomeni Camp.

Updated: Aug 24, 2020

Written by Ruhi Loren Akhtar when Volunteering at the Greece-Macedonia (Fyrom) Border, in May 2016.

Fadwa in Idomeni Camp at the Greece - Macedonia (FYROM) Border.

This is Fadwa, 40 years old and mother of three beautiful girls all under five years old. I met her in Idomeni Refugee Camp.

She fled Syria with her husband and three children due to threats to their lives. Members of her family have 'disappeared' or been executed for opposing the regime.

I am unable to show her full face upon request, as some family members have been unable to flee and it maybe risky for them.

I gave her some money to buy food and essentials for her daughters. The girls were struggling to eat as they didn't take to distribution food and were needing fruits and vegetables. She started crying and said 'Sorry I have to take this but I have no choice.' She made me cry too. She later told me they had bought potatoes with the money and it was the first time in months they'd had a potato based meal. Even the smallest of donations can make the world of difference.

Fadwa showed me her X Ray and said she has a problem with her hip but does not qualify for medical treatment in Greece under the government. She is constantly in pain and relies on her husband to go and stand in distribution queues as she cannot walk far.

Does Fadwa look like someone who would put her children on a dangerous boat to travel to Greece because she wants money or because she doesn't want to work expecting to live on state hand outs?


Fadwa had a comfortable life and upbringing in Syria. She is an educated Arabic teacher. Having completed her masters degree she wanted to study her PhD.

I can only imagine how undignified it must be for her, having to take donations and relying on handouts. So much so, it makes her cry!

Her husband is so proud of her, he posts photos of her Masters degree thesis on his social media. Photos are all they have of the thesis now, her education, her job, her home and her life as its been left behind in a country broken by war and devastated by air strikes.



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