It’s isolation that hurts us. When we stay separate from refugees and they stay separate from us. The growing refugee crisis requires both sides to look up, reach out and connect.
Meike studied Arabic at SOAS in London. Before setting up Alsama she ran her own publishing company, Peirene Press, in the UK for ten years. She first came to Shatila in 2016 to work with nine writers to create ‘Shatila Stories’. Then in autumn 2018 she returned to the camp to help a group of refugee women turn their NGO-funded needle-art workshop into a self-sustaining social enterprise. In December 2019 her job appeared done and she was about to pack her suitcase when Kadria Hussien approached her with an idea for an empowerment centre for adolescent girls in Shatila. Meike felt the excitement of a new challenge. While working at the social enterprise she had met a number of teenage girls – daughters of women employed by the workshop. She had been struck by their limited expectations of the world and of themselves. In a sense, their years in a refugee camp had deprived them of their dreams. And so Meike unpacked her suitcase and Alsama came to life.