"Our lives take us through different paths. But we all yearn for self-sufficiency and life in safety and dignity"
There are currently over 82 million people in the world who have been forced to flee their homes. Each of them carries with them a unique story. Some have been driven from their homes by war or climate change, others by political persecution. But one thing unites them.
They yearn for a life of safety; they yearn to be self-sufficient and to be able to take care of themselves without depending on the help of others. Often all they need is a little support to get started, to find a job, to set up a business or start studying, so they can make a living and take their lives into their own hands.
In a number of countries, we help refugees to get back on their feet. Read their stories.
Faces of refugees
From a refugee to a doctor
27-year-old Sigiro´s parents are refugees from Rwanda. In Zambia, where her family found asylum, Sigiro enrolled in medical school. Her parents tried their best to support her, but after three years, they had no money to pay for their daughter's studies. Caritas Czech Republic helped the promising student secure a scholarship and cover her other monthly expenses, including accommodation, food and textbooks. Sigiro could thus fully devote herself to her studies, which she successfully completed a couple of years ago.
"My dream became a reality and today I am a doctor," says Sigiro with satisfaction. She wants to use her salary to support her younger siblings so that they can also get a degree.
From a childhood dream to her own business
Layla has loved making mosaics since she was a child, helping a small family business to grow. The war in Syria turned her life upside down. She left her home and her beloved work in ruins to reach safety. Like most Syrian refugees, Layla headed north to Turkey, where she enrolled in a training course run by the Caritas Czech Republic that supports Syrian refugees to set up small businesses.
"I learned how to turn my hobby into a business. Today I make a living by creating mosaics," says Layla, who hopes to sell her paintings abroad one day.
To feel at home
The war forced Rashid to leave his home and his thriving farm in Sinjar, Iraq. Still, after eight years, his family cannot return home. Until recently, they lacked one of the most basic things - a roof over their heads. “Our situation was critical," says Rashid. "I did what I could to build a more permanent shelter for my family."
Thanks to the help of Caritas Czech Republic, Rashid’s family finally got a place to live. “I finally feel at home again," Rashid confides. "My wife and daughter are both disabled, so I am happy to be able to provide them with a safe and dignified life."
A new life in a new country
"We did not want to raise our children to the sound of sirens and bombings," say Ecaterina and Ion, who fled the war in Ukraine to neighbouring Moldova. They both found a job immediately after arriving. Currently, they alternate shifts in the agriculture and construction sectors. They live in Dragușeni and they plan to stay there.
In Moldova, we provide vulnerable refugees with cash support to enable them to become self-sufficient and start a new life. Ecaterina and Ion plan to save the financial contribution from us, so they could save up for their own house eventually. "We want to give our children a safe home," Ecaterina says.
Sewing the way to self-sufficiency
Esther lives in Zambia. She is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, but her parents had to flee the ravages of war. Although refugees are safe in Zambia, it is difficult for them to access education and find job opportunities. They often have no choice but to set up their own businesses, but without education and finances, it is a very challenging task.
Thanks to Caritas Czech Republic, Esther attended a six-month sewing course to become a seamstress. She was able to buy a sewing machine and fabrics because of a micro.grant she received from us. “I make clothes for women in the neighbourhood. This way I can support my family,” says shyly 19-year-old Esther. Her small business is a great help to her family.
Overcoming war trauma through painting
A painter Ksenia fled the war from Ukraine to neighbouring Moldova. She did not wait with her hand outreached and immediately started to work. She specialises in art therapy and decided to use it to help children deal with their war experience. "Painting makes children forget the traumas they had to go through, and they start laughing again," says Ksenia.
Thanks to Ksenie, children have been becoming children again for three months already. Their joy and laughter make them and their parents forget the sound of sirens and bombing, at least for a while. Ksenia has clear plans about how to use the financial support from Caritas Czech Republic. “I will buy new supplies so that I can continue to paint smiles on the faces of children who have fled the rampage of war."
Living in safety
When the Islamic State attacked his home region in Iraq in 2014, Fadhel and his family had to flee to safety. The conflict drove the family to the Duhok region, where they discovered an abandoned old building in one of the local villages. However, it was far from a decent home. “We often found snakes in our latrine. It was not safe for us,” Fadhel recalls. Caritas Czech Republic helped Fadhel’s family secure their shelter so they would not have to be afraid in their home and could live in safety and dignity.