When Mohammed and his wife Alaa were forced to flee their home in Homs, Syria, they left everything behind, including their promising careers – Mohammed worked as a veterinarian and Alaa as an agricultural engineer.

When UNHCR High Profile Supporter Ben Stiller met Mohammed and Alaa on a recent visit to Azraq Camp in Jordan, he was struck by their strength and resilience.

“Imagine all of a sudden being taken from your apartment or from your house and being forced to live in a dwelling where you don’t have anything,” he said.

“These are people like you and me who just want to move forward in life and have the best life for themselves and for their kids. Despite all that has happened to them, they are focusing on the future, especially the future of their children.”

Jamal and his daughter Farah in their shop in Al Khadra’a camp in Iraq

In Al Khadra’a displacement camp in neighbouring Iraq, Jamal Naji also refuses to languish in despair.

Jamal owned a thriving business in Fallujah before extremists took control of the city and destroyed his home and store. After two relatives were murdered, he and his family sold everything else they owned and left for Al Khadra’a camp.

Unsure of when they would return – or what they would return to – Jamal was determined to regain his independence. He converted the front of his shelter into a small shop and opened for business.

Remarkably, Jamal achieved this despite having muscular dystrophy and needing a wheelchair to get around. Eight months since his shop opened, Jamal has been able to support his extended family, wife and two-year-old daughter Farah with the profits.

“It was very hard to leave Fallujah – it was a tragedy,” he told UNHCR staff. “I’m earning a living for us through this shop, selling snacks and sweets. The lesson I learned from life is to not depend on others but to support my family myself, without anybody’s help.”

His dreams for Farah’s future are at the root of his entrepreneurial attitude. “I hope I can live long enough to help support her. I hope she can grow up and go to school.”

You can help empower refugees like Jamal to build a better future for themselves and their families.


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