Jane shared her definition for our Refugee Dictionary, and when we read it we asked to find out more about the story behind her words: ‘A refugee is the unexpected but joyful addition to my family. A surprise second son, enriching the lives beyond measure of my husband, my original son and daughter and the community of my extended family. A refugee is a gift of love.’
This is their story:
My son Mohamad fled Syria in 2015 during the civil war. Circumstances that forced him to leave meant he didn’t even have time to say goodbye to his biological mum.
After an arduous journey he made it to the Calais ‘jungle’, which was to become his home for almost a year. It was tough but he also created a family for himself there with volunteers and fellow refugees, who were to become lifelong friends. Afterwards, Mohamad made it to the UK. Once here, everyone dispersed, and he was alone.
In Mohamad’s words, “Whilst volunteering for a charity I met another volunteer – this lovely lady who wanted to help me find friends as I was new to the area. Bit by bit we started to get to know each other. I didn’t know anyone, she loves being a mum and I love being a son, so we decided to adopt each other! She makes me feel much better! Then I met her family and we all just clicked. I feel that I belong with them, I feel safe, loved and ok to just be me. Jane, Rich, Jasmine and Finn are different from everyone else. There is a special kindness and caring. I love my English family as I love my real family.”
Mohamad had, and continues to have a profound impact on our family. It was a bit of a surprise being asked to be someone’s mum – that’s obviously not how things normally work! But it is one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. I took a chance and it has worked out incredibly well. I feel grateful every single day that I have been given this gift, this bonus child. He is the funniest person I’ve ever met, he’s so affectionate and cuddly and I am delighted he came into our lives.
My life is richer having Mohamad in it. It was a complete no-brainer to welcome him into our family. -Jasmine, Mohamad’s sister
It was equally as much of a surprise for my husband Rich. Having two grown-up children already, it was quite the shock for him when I raised the subject of having another, which became an even bigger surprise when Rich realised he was in his 20s! But Mo fit perfectly into our family from the moment we brought him home, and has enriched our lives in a myriad of beautiful and surprising ways.
Mohamad is the brother I thought I would never have. A brother who opened my eyes to my privilege and a much loved member of our tribe. -Finn, Mohamad’s brother
Since arriving in the UK as a Syrian refugee, Mohamad has flourished. He is an award-winning public speaker, winning the Your UK Parliament community campaigner award for his efforts fighting the Home Office over the mistreatment of child asylum seekers. He is also currently working as a film extra overseas in a film due to be released in 2022, and hopes to gain leading roles in the future.
In Spring 2020 Mohamad’s mum Jane co-founded The Launchpad Collective (TLC), an organisation which drives change for refugees by connecting their skills and talents with employers of sanctuary. To find out more, you can follow TLC on Instagram, or visit their website.
To find out more about the campaign, share your contribution or find out more about supporting UK for UNHCR, visit our website.