Osama works for the rights of Palestinian refugees
For Osama Hamzi the Palestinian exodus from Syria reminded him intensely of the journey from Palestine made by his ancestors. He now devotes all his time to giving them the conditions to be able to live like everyone else.
Osama Hamzi remembers the first day that Palestinian refugees from Syria started streaming over the border to Lebanon.
- I started crying. When I went to help and saw them carrying their children and small bundles, I thought about what my grandparents had told me about their escape from Palestine. I felt that history was repeating itself. It’s the same thing but years later.
The stories had great effect on him
Osama’s grandparents came from a small village outside Hebron on the West Bank. As a child Osama listened to their stories about fleeing from Palestine. About what it was like to leave everything and make your way to a country that wasn’t your own. This had a great effect on him. As soon as he had finished university, he started working for Diakonia’s partner, the Lebanese organization Nejdeh.
- I felt that I wanted to do something for my people. When they came here there were Lebanese people who supported them. If they hadn’t done that, I may never have been born.
The organization was founded to help Palestinian refugees following the Lebanese Civil War. But now many of the Palestinians coming to Najdeh’s centre in the Beqaa Valley where Osama works are from Syria. Every day at least another twenty new people arrive. Nejdeh is one of few organizations in the region to work with Syrian Palestinians. At the organization’s centre they are given access to various forms of training and education. In one classroom a group of young women sit writing energetically on computers.
- What the vast majority want to do is to work. Giving them the opportunity to change their lives is crucial work for Najdeh, says Osama Hamzi.
Aren't entitled to work
In Lebanon Palestinians are not entitled to work in many professions nor take out loans. Osama talks about his experiences of what financial assistance to Palestinian refugees in Lebanon has led to. About people who, with the help of microloans, have soon been able to provide for themselves. He now hopes that the work with Syrian Palestinians will have the same results.
- If we are to achieve our goal, they need to have the opportunity to live like us.