Writing project helps young Syrian refugees connect with New York kids

In this file photo, Syrian refugee children stand along a street in south of Sidon, southern Lebanon. (Reuters)
Updated 16 February 2018

Writing project helps young Syrian refugees connect with New York kids

BEIRUT: Syrian child refugees in Lebanon are using hand-written letters and drawings to bridge the vast gap between their experiences and the lives of other children in New York.
The 1,000 Letter Project allows the young refugees to share their hopes and dreams. So far about 700 letters have been exchanged between the refugees and children in Hudson, New York, since the project started several months ago.
“I release my pain when I write these letters,” said Nijmeh Almawla, a 14-year-old Syrian refugee living in an informal settlement south of Lebanon’s capital, Beirut.
“Somebody is listening to me, and finally someone is hearing me,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) says nearly 1 million Syrians are registered as refugees in Lebanon, and account for about a quarter of its population. More than one in four Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children.
The project is a joint effort between Help Syria’s Kids, a US charity that assists young Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and Imagine Workshop and Concert Series (IWCS), a Lebanese art and outreach program.
The goal is to exchange 1,000 letters by the end of 2018.
Danette Gorman, the founder of Help Syria’s Kids, which is based in Hudson, said the idea was to create “unity between children” and help them understand how the other lives.
The letters and drawings were exhibited on Thursday at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, where some of the Syrian children performed a song as part of a larger IWCS concert.
“I want to learn to speak your language,” one of the letters that came from New York read.
Another said: “I hope you get the things that you need like a lot of food.”
“It shows that people care,” said IWCS director Seba Ali.
“It gives them self-esteem and tells them that they are a very, very important part in our society and that they matter.”
Among the letters were drawings, one of which — drawn by a Syrian child — was of a broken heart with a knife through it.
“Seeing is different from hearing. And when they read how we are living it will affect them ... they don’t know how bad our living conditions are,” said 12-year-old refugee Baraa’a Anter.
“I am every happy because I am talking to them,” she added with a beaming smile. “And I hope one day I can see them and they can see me.”


Full steam ahead for Egypt-Sudan rail network

Updated 27 October 2020

Full steam ahead for Egypt-Sudan rail network

  • Gateway project will open continent to new trade and jobs, says Cairo minister

CAIRO: Egypt’s Minister of Transport Kamel Al-Wazir has discussed plans with Sudanese counterpart Hashem bin Auf to build a cross-border railway network between the two neighboring countries.

The pair discussed terms of a joint cooperation document for railway connectivity, which aims to provide funding for an economic, social and environmental feasibility study for the project. The planned network will extend from the Egyptian city of Aswan across the southern border to Sudan’s Wadi Halfa in its first phase.

Funding will be organized through cooperation between Egypt, Sudan and the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development.

Al-Wazir signed the document and delivered it to the Sudanese ambassador in Cairo for signing by the country’s transport minister.

The two sides also discussed a number of road projects, including a prospective land road between Egypt and Chad through Sudan. 

The project aims to be a gateway for trade between the two countries, Chad and West Africa. 

The Cairo-Sudan-Cape Town road, which passes through nine African countries, was also mentioned by the ministers. Al-Wazir also said that Egypt is building a Cairo-Arqin road corridor inside its borders, which passes through the governorates of Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor and Aswan, and then then extends to the Egyptian border, passing through the Toshka junctions to Arqin, parallel with Sudan.

He added that the new project is important in achieving land connectivity and increasing trade with African countries, as well as serving Egyptian and African citizens, opening new job opportunities and encouraging comprehensive development. The Sudanese side also requested cooperation with Egypt in maritime transport and the training of maritime cadres at the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.

Al-Wazir said that Egypt will provide its capabilities to train the workers, whether through the Arab Academy, Egyptian ports or the Egyptian Authority for Maritime Safety.

The two sides also agreed to hold a joint meeting to follow up on the progress of other cooperation projects and to discuss the development of the Nile Valley Authority for River Navigation.

Al-Wazir’s team said that the coming period should include urgent plans to develop the authority, train river workers and provide support through specialized technical cadres.