Omar

Written by Omar Al Sayed

My name is Omar Al Sayed, I’m 23 years old. I’m a Palestinian refugee living in a camp called Rashidieh in the south of Lebanon, and I’ve been living in this camp since I was born. I went to school in the camp until I had finished high school. Everything I did was within the borders of the camp. I knew nothing about Lebanon and people living outside the camp, and I had no idea about how life outside the camp was. Was it nice? Was it not? Those were questions I always asked myself.

Then it came, the day that I started my voluntary work with an organization and started the social work, doing workshops, and going camping outside the camp. To be outside of the camp was nice in the start, but when I just finished my high school and was going to start University with a lot of people with different religions and different thinking, I started to become worried. I’m studying Graphic Design at the Faculty of Communication Art, and I chose this major myself. My father was asking me to do Engineering, but I didn’t because I want to be a designer. This conflict was the first threat in my life, but what you want always will win, so I just did what I wanted to do.

It was another world at the university – beautiful and not at the same time. I’m not used to live as the other students live. They all have a lot more life experience than me, and don’t forget that I’m a Palestinian refugee that will destroy the country and make trouble, or at least that’s what they think. Also don’t forget that in Lebanon Sunni and Shia Muslims always are uncomfortable with each other. They (Shia) don’t like that religious guy that was friends with the prophet Mohammad and that was called Omar, and as my name is Omar they just start to hate me because of that, always coming to say bad things to me because of my name.

Rashidieh camp is too far from the city, it’s like alone in the desert. People from here should know more about the world outside the camp, especially the youth. To fix our problems they have to go outside the camp, to learn more about the outside and to live with other people. The youth in the camp is strength, they can change whatever they want. From what I’ve experienced I want the youth to work towards creating more relations with people outside the camp, especially with the Shia group, to destroy that wall between us so that we can live together in friendship.

The biggest challenge I have is to be a refugee in a country that has no respect for refugees. Every day I wake up like anyone else in the world, but I don’t know what I can do to make our situation better. In spite of this, and in spite of all our challenges and the prevention of our rights, we still live and do a lot of creative and good things because we do just as the Palestinian performance poet and human rights activist, Rafeef Ziadah, said: “We teach life, sir!”