Faiza, Zubaida and Ibtisam live thousands of kilometres apart. Uprooted by violence in Yemen, Myanmar and Syria, the three women share a similar story of displacement. They have each lost their homes and their livelihoods, but also carry with them the hope that the future will be brighter and safer for their children.
Ramadan is a time for compassion, reflection and generosity. Over the years, these women have worked hard to preserve their faith through the rituals of Ramadan. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) stands in solidarity with countless displaced communities who persevere to maintain their cultures and traditions with resilience and dignity.
Faiza, 35, had six children before the conflict in Yemen escalated. War claimed two of her sons; she now struggles to keep the remaining four children safe and healthy on her own. Ramadan will be a sombre affair this year, as it has been for the last four years for many Yemenis. Despite the odds, Faiza wishes a peaceful Ramadan for all Muslims worldwide.
“Life is hard,” Faiza says at an IOM Yemen clinic in Sana’a where her daughters Awatif, 11, and Wasil, 2, are receiving care, “but I have to endure for my children. If the war ends, I hope everything will be better. Inshallah.”
Over 4,400 kms to the east, in Bangladesh, Zubaida (35) remembers fondly the rice cakes she would prepare for her four children for Iftar during Ramadan in Myanmar.
Nearly two years in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, has taken its toll on close to one million Rohingya refugees living in camps. Displacement, the monsoons and uncertainty over their futures has kept many families like Zubaida’s in limbo, praying to one day return to their homes in safety.
The holy month of Ramadan used to bring Zubaida’s family, friends and relatives together under one roof. “We would cook grand meals, laugh and gossip, all together in one kitchen,” Zubaida tells IOM Bangladesh in Balukhali Refugee Camp. This year, away from their home, relatives and farmlands, Ramadan will be quieter.
Thirty-six year old Ibtisam would agree.
“Ramadan in Syria had a special taste,” she says as she rewinds the clock nearly a decade to her life in Qamishili, Syria. She remembers breaking the fast each night, surrounded by family, relatives and friends.
“Here in Iraq, I am a stranger. I am all alone… Ramadan without family has no taste”.
As her family waits to return home, Ibtisam has set up a small shop in the main market of Baziyan district, Sulemanyiah, with the help of IOM Iraq, where she earns a living that sustains her family of five.
IOM provides life-saving assistance to millions of migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons globally. IOM teams in Yemen, Bangladesh, and Iraq, and countless more around the world, will be helping displaced families celebrate Ramadan with dignity this year. Ramadan Karim.
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