World Refugee (Every)Day


To mark the beginning of World Refugee Week, we’re connecting you with some of the incredible people in the Movement community – like Nozok and Gul Fegar. The in-laws from Afghanistan are doing their best to hold it together as solo mothers in a camp environment. 

“As mothers, we all go through the same thing - it’s difficult for us anywhere,” said Nozok, a solo mother of three.

“But when you are in a safe environment, there is less to worry about. When it comes to this place, you worry about what your kids are going to eat, if they’re going to school, if they’re doing anything today.” 

Nozok has been in the reception centre on Lesvos for more than seven months. She fled Afghanistan after the Taliban killed her husband, fearing her children were in danger too. 

A month ago, her in-law Gul Fegar, also a solo mother from Afghanistan, arrived in the camp with her seven children. 

“I can’t tell you how hard it is to be a mother in here - I don’t have the strength to explain it to you,” said Gul Fegar. The pressure of this whole situation has made me physically sick.”

“When your kids get sick, it’s worse than having yourself get sick – you just wish it could be you.”

With children ranging from eight to 16 years old, Gul Fegar has taken her kids to hospital four times since being on Lesvos – each time having to rely on her neighbours to look after the other children. 

While the pair wait for their asylum applications to be processed, they’re volunteering with MOTG’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme – supporting women with anything they need at the shower facilities. 

The nature of their role means they're generally surrounded by other women, talking over a cup of tea and sharing stories that are universal. 

“Often we just complain about things, our husbands, the problems here, our mother’s in-law,” Nozok said with a wry smile. 

“They should be going out with the other kids and having fun – this is what makes you happy as a mother."

And while they can joke with the other ladies in the camp, the reality of raising children in this environment is sobering. 

“My kids haven’t had any good times,” Nozork said.  

“Not because of the child but because of the situation. They should be going out with the other kids and having fun – this is what makes you happy as a mother. But they didn’t get to do that in Afghanistan because of the Taliban, and they’re not getting to do it here. 

“Being a mother is like carrying a heavy bag from one city to another. You have to do that. When you get tired, it doesn’t matter - there is no other way. It’s difficult. But as mothers, this is what we signed up for. 

“I just hope my kids have the chance to go to school and get an education. Get a fair chance to study. That’s the glimmer of light in my life right now.” 

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