The not lost generation

first_imgIn 2005, years before Donald Trump’s travel ban, Europe’s refugee crisis, or Barack Obama’s “red line,” Oula Alrifai and her family were granted political asylum from the Syrian government, without ceremony. It was the day before her 18th birthday.“That was a depressing day,” said Alrifai, a master’s degree candidate with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. “I had to leave everything behind.”The Al Rifa’i family had fought for democracy in Syria for generations. Many of their friends and relatives had been imprisoned, killed, tortured, or exiled for speaking out against the government of Bashar al-Assad. Alrifai and her brother, Mouhanad Al-Rifay, were already showing a penchant for dissidence at school, and her parents began receiving death threats from government agents. They quickly fled to Washington, D.C., where Alrifai said they were among the city’s first asylees from Syria.“We were lucky,” said Al-Rifay, who was 14 at the time. “I feel like life protected us for some reason.”Moustafa, a child refugee from Aleppo, spends his 10-hour days at a sweets shop on his feet. He also helps in his father’s shoe store, where other hazards take their toll. Photo by John JacksDriven by the same instincts that made them troublemakers in Syria, she and her brother continued their mission to bring democracy to their home. With the Tharwa Foundation, Alrifai contributed to a series of online documentaries called “First Step,” which called for a nonviolent revolution in the country. Two years later, the siblings founded the Syrian-American Network for Aid and Development (SANAD), dedicated to providing support and financial assistance to families escaping the conflict.When the refugee crisis became headline news in 2013, Alrifai and Al-Rifay traveled to Turkey’s Anatolia region to look for Syrians trying to rebuild their lives. They found people stuck in a liminal stage of immigration, with thousands of children — most from Aleppo, a focal point of the civil war — working as laborers from dawn until dusk, for just a few dollars a day. None of them were in school.“They have to survive and help their families even though they’re between 10 and 13, or even younger,” said Al-Rifay. “They work every day, literally every single day … they have to skip work to be normal [kids].”With the children’s permission, the siblings began taping their talks. Alrifai said she focused on questions, using neutral language to ask the children what they thought about the war, Assad, and the rebels. “I wanted to know what they thought without guiding them. We wanted to give these kids a voice, because no one was talking about them,” she said.The two compiled a documentary, “Tomorrow’s Children,” with Alrifai as executive producer and Al-Rifay as director. The film is comprised of six vignettes, each devoted to one child they interviewed. The documentary is currently in postproduction, and expected to be released in early 2018.More than 5 million Syrian refugees have been registered by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees since the conflict began, nearly half of them younger than 18 years old. Only 20 percent of those children get counseling, and less than 5 percent are continuing their education. Turkey, with which Syria shares a 511-mile border on its north, has taken the majority of these refugees, including 1.4 million children. Very few of the children go to school, and many of them are forced into a life of exploitative labor, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).“These kids are completely pessimistic. They don’t see anything positive in life,” said Al-Rifay. “That’s not right for a 12-year-old.”One boy, Shrivan, whose neighborhood in Aleppo was evacuated when the Free Syrian Army invaded, expressed disdain for the rebel group. Shrivan had been a high performer in school, but had to start working only a week after escaping shelling and sniper fire.“In his mind, they brought the problem into his life,” said Al-Rifay. “Now he sees the bigger picture, but at the time, he was someone who left because of the opposition.” With the help of SANAD’s education fund, Shrivan was able to stop working and is back in school.Credit: Rebecca Coleman/Harvard Staff“I feel like my whole struggle was convincing people that Syrians are people,” Al-Rifay said. “We should listen to these kids because they’re going to be adults soon. And if we don’t do anything, they’re going to be taken to the other side.” Radical groups take advantage of children, he said, citing a boy who, when asked what he would do to make Syria better, said he would go to jihad.“He’s a little kid. He doesn’t know what jihad is,” Alrifai said.“When someone is that age … they don’t know what they’re saying,” Al-Rifay agreed, “and then a terrorist comes along, says ‘Oh, hey, we believe in jihad, too,’ and they make him into a terrorist.”According to the UNOCHA, children are being recruited into militant groups in 90 percent of surveyed locations where Syrian refugees have settled.Fatima attends a Turkish school where she does not know the language and is routinely abused by her peers. The nearest Arabic school is too far and too expensive for her family to afford. Photo by John Jacks“What we went through is not comparable to what they went through,” Alrifai said. It is the relative ease with which the Al Rifa’i family was granted residence and recently citizenship that drives the siblings most. They are well aware that if they had fled Syria today instead of 12 years ago, they would not have been welcomed so readily — if at all.“I’m Syrian and people should know that that doesn’t mean we’re terrorists. We’re refugees but we’re not coming to take your jobs,” she said. “We’re not radical Islamists who want to blow up places in America. This whole package that was created about Syria is just unbelievable. What [people] see on CNN and in newspapers is ‘terrorists and Syria,’ and now thanks to [Trump’s travel ban], it’s even worse.”Though Alrifai sees little hope of the war ending with Assad’s ouster and the return of democracy, she said there is still hope for the children to reach their full potentials. Invest in these kids now, she said, because otherwise there will be a much steeper price down the line.“You can’t be numb to it. They are the future generation and leaders of Syria.”last_img read more

FA Cup: Cutting errors key to beating Man Utd – Lampard

first_img “But we’ve had individual errors in key moments that have changed the face of the result slightly, and it has been too regular. read also:Lampard cautions Chelsea stars to forget revenge talk against Man Utd “We will have to be very much on top of ourselves when it comes to the quality of opposition we have got in Manchester United. “No matter what, they can hurt any defence or any team with the individual quality they have. “It was good to get a clean sheet against Norwich. “This will be a different animal and we will have to defend very well.” FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 Chelsea boss, Frank Lampard, has called for focus ahead of their FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United. Lampard has ordered his Chelsea stars to cut out the mistakes at the back as they prepare to go head-to-head with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s sharp-shooters for a place in the FA Cup final. He said: “We always work on it to be fair, there’s never a neglect of defensive work in the game. “It has to be constant and repeated regularly. A big problem of ours this season is that we’ve been committing individual errors in games. “Sometimes in games where we’ve been comfortable, it has been a counter-attack or cross into our box, when we haven’t really had to be defending our box that regularly through the season. “Certain games are different to that, like Sheffield United, where we just didn’t play well as a team.Advertisement Loading…last_img read more

Ospreys back on track with victory

first_img After three games without a victory Steve Tandy’s side returned to winning ways to boost their chances of a top-four finish. Outside half Sam Davies, son of former Scarlets and Gloucester coach Nigel, kicked 21 points and set up a try for number eight Dan Baker to seal a much-needed win. A first-half yellow card for forward Dave O’Callaghan proved to be costly for the visitors as the home side scored 11 of their 26 points while Munster were down to 14 men. Munster’s reply came from late tries by Donnacha Ryan and Keith Earls but the outcome was never really in doubt by that stage. A bright start from the Ospreys saw Davies kick them ahead with a penalty after five minutes. They dominated territory and possession in the opening quarter but were struggling to turn their advantage into points on the board. It was the 22nd minute before Davies added to their lead with a second penalty. The key incident of the first half came when Munster flanker O’Callaghan was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle on Ospreys full-back Dan Evans. Within 90 seconds the Ospreys had their opening try when they moved the ball wide and Baker collected Davies’ long pass and went over in the corner. The young fly-half missed the conversion but was able to nudge the Ospreys further in front with his third penalty minutes later. The Ospreys got their Guinness PRO12 play-off charge back on track with a 26-12 victory over fellow title contenders Munster. Press Association Straight from the restart the home side were back on the front foot with Justin Tipuric, making his 100th appearance for the Welsh region, making 30 metres with a fine break down the middle. It put Davies into drop goal range and he slotted his effort straight down the middle to give the Ospreys a 17-0 lead at the break. Munster tried to force their way back into the contest at the beginning of the second period but when they got into Ospreys territory the home side did well to defend a driving line-out and clear. With Munster back up to 15 players the game returned to a tight affair with much of the rugby being played in the middle of the field. Davies kicked a long-range penalty just after the hour mark to keep the scoreboard ticking over for the Ospreys and the 21-year-old was managing the game well for the hosts. Munster finally got success from a driving line-out nine minutes from the end when replacement Ryan was pushed from close range for their opening try. Davies added his fifth penalty for the Ospreys on 75 minutes before less than 90 seconds later Earls crossed in the corner for Munster’s second score. But it proved to be nothing more than a consolation when Davies kicked his sixth penalty at the death. last_img read more