“Then We Officially Became Refugees …”: A 10-Year-Old’s Story
Mark* was born in Iraq, where he enjoyed a happy life with his family. In spring 2017, the Christian family fled to Jordan after being given the choice to deny Christ or be killed. Here is his story in his own words. (He told his story to a teacher at his school, who translated them into English.)
Hello. My name is Mark. I’m 10 years old.
I have a very warm family. My mom, who devotes herself completely to take care of us, my dad, and my 14-year-old brother are my backbones in this unstable life.
We used to live in Iraq. My dad used to be a very clever mechanic. I can remember those days, which were full of joy and laughter. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but I remember being safe and secure.
Our decision to leave our home country wasn’t easy at all, especially for my mum. We tried to find our own ways to survive, but we were given unacceptable choices: We could either deny our Christ, or be killed. In fact, all of these were impossible for us to accept.
We managed to cross the Jordanian border, and then we officially became refugees.
Since then, our life has completely turned upside down. We became used to cries and sadness.
But my mom, my hero, is the strongest person among us, who keeps praying and believing in Jesus, who has His own ways and resources for our own sake.
First, she asked many schools to give us a chance to feel like normal children who go to school, but most of them refused.
God sent us people who told us about a Nazarene School. The school received us with open arms.
My first week at school was horrible. I cried every day because I was academically behind the others, but my hero kept encouraging and supporting me.
Not only her—God sent me some amazing friends, who started to accept me and play with me at the break time.
I also can’t find the words to describe how grateful I am to my patient teachers, who will never give up helping me.
These days, I’m so proud of myself as I can read and write some words in English and Arabic. All the past years, I used to study only the Kurdish language. But I know I can do this!
In the future, I want to be a policeman to be able to protect those people who can’t protect themselves.
Mark is just one child out of 28 million displaced children who have been uprooted by conflict. All over the world, children are forcibly displaced from their homes because of battles they didn’t choose. But even a small thing can make a big difference. For Mark, that was the ability to attend school and a safe space to practice his faith.
This year’s Christmas Project will provide for the basic needs of displaced children in our world. To help a vulnerable child, visit ncm.org/Christmas.
*Children’s names are changed for their protection.