Everyone can make a difference, everyone action counts

1 year ago Web Desk 0

In 2020, we mark World Refugee Day against a backdrop of dramatic social change – the entire world is grappling with the devastation of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This global health crisis is evolving into an economic crisis, and in turn, exposing raw social inequalities in our societies.


These are challenging times. Yet, we have seen how ordinary people have become heroes by stepping up and leaning in to help. And refugees are contributing on the frontlines of the pandemic, despite living in extremely vulnerable conditions. In Tajikistan, along with their hosting communities’, refugees share the burden fallen by the pandemic with some of them fighting COVID on the frontlines or contributing their time and resources to help others.


Shahrbonu, a young single mother from Afghanistan, arrived with her children in Vahdat city one year ago. This city hosts the majority of Tajikistan’s refugee community with approximately 4,000 residing there, mostly from Afghanistan.


The move to Tajikistan was difficult for Shahrbonu. She lives with her parents and has four children, one of which suffers from mental illness. No one in her family is employed, although previously she worked as a midwife for 9 years in her homeland. The only source of income they have now are remittances from her brothers who live abroad.


When the COVID-19 pandemic reached her new home, Shahrbonu could not stand aside and do nothing. She decided to support both the refugee and host community in Vahdat city by making protective masks and giving them away for free. In total she has sewed 600 cotton masks in 3 colors – white, turquoise and black – to match the various tastes of Vahdat’s residents.


This began during the month of Ramadan when Shahrbonu decided to undertake charity, as is traditional during the holy month. As she had a sewing machine and was good at sewing, she decided to help people by making masks. She had been advised that masks were needed to protect people from the virus and that not everyone can afford to buy new disposable ones every day.


These masks were not intended only for refugees and Shahrbonu wanted to provide them to all those in need. Working together with Ariana Refugee Committee, in Vahdat, the masks she made were distributed through to people in need in both the refugee and host communities.


Like many refugees, her life is becoming harder throughout the pandemic. Her brothers are finding it more difficult to save money to send to her, and the family has to economize even more than usual, any way they can.


When Shahrbonu walks down the street and sees people wearing the masks she made she feels good. She is glad to see that despite her own difficult situation; she is able to help people in need.


The COVID19 pandemic has shown us how desperately we need to fight for a more inclusive and equal world. A world where no one is left behind. It has never been clearer that all of us have a role to play in order to bring about change. Everyone can make a difference. This is at the heart of UNHCR’s World Refugee Day campaign. This year, we aim to remind the world that everyone, including refugees, can contribute to society and Every Action Counts in the effort to create a more just, inclusive, and equal world.


Source: Asia Plus