A Syrian refugee woman and her Australian match reflect on their heart-warming experience using the Connecting Worlds app.
When Madlin, a Syrian refugee living in Jordan, signed up to participate in the Connecting Worlds app program earlier this year, she didn’t know what to expect. “I just wanted to get to know a new person,” she says.
In fact, she and her match, Leading Women Fund (LWF) donor Liz Lewis, bonded so strongly, they extended their participation in the app from the standard four weeks to eight, swapping texts several times a day.
Madlin: I’m friends with people of lots of different nationalities – Syrian, Jordanian, Palestinian – but I’m also a single mum to a six-year-old daughter, so I spend a lot of time at home. I joined the app as I wanted to get to know a new person and I really enjoyed it.
Liz was really easy to talk to. I was surprised to learn that she lived so close to nature; she’d send me pictures of Australian birds and animals which I showed to my daughter, and it was really fun. On average, we messaged two or three times a day.
Life has been challenging and difficult, and I have sole responsibility for my daughter which is why I haven’t signed up for any employment courses or anything like that. Liz was really encouraging though – she emphasised that life goes on and she gave me so much positive energy. My focus is my daughter and I will always put her needs before my own. The cash assistance I receive from UNHCR doesn’t cover all our expenses but it means I can make sure she has warm clothes, shoes, schoolbooks and the ability to get to school.
One day, I’d love to have similar experiences to Liz. I was so sad to say goodbye to her. I want to thank her for the opportunity to talk and the encouragement she gave me.
Liz: Exchanging messages with Madlin demonstrated the importance of UNHCR’s cash assistance, but also how much Madlin has achieved. She is 25 years old. She has been able to move from a refugee camp, find rental accommodation and build a new life with her daughter. This is a real achievement. The cash assistance she receives from LWF means her daughter can attend a local school, wearing a uniform just like the other kids. I told her I admired her courage and determination in starting anew on her own.
I could see that her child was the centre of her life. I don’t have children of my own, but I have step-children and step-grandchildren, so I know that six is a delightful age. Madlin and her daughter both loved seeing photos of our local wildlife (including a bush turkey, pelicans and cockatoos eating out of our pot plant). She told me she lives in a city that is dry and hot, with few trees. She said all her childhood memories were erased in the war.
I really enjoyed our messages and I was so incredibly happy to be part of Connecting Worlds. My hope for Madlin is that she can have a comfortable, decent life with her daughter.
Craftivists Stephanie Dunlap and Tal Fitzpatrick reached out to artists around the world to raise funds for Australia for UNHCR
The majority of funds raised by Australia for UNHCR are directed to UNHCR’s emergency operations, providing the ready funds and resources to respond quickly and effectively in situations of crisis and disaster.