International Friendship Day
If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.
When I was a child, Winnie the Pooh was often a source of comfort; the simple pleasure of reading a bedtime story and getting to know small details about each individual character. My short time as an intern at UNICEF’S Middle East and North Africa Regional Office reminds me of being tucked up in bed, listening in awe of the stories. I have spent the past month immersing myself in the stories of the children involved in one of UNICEF’s more recent projects, album 11. I have come to know their journey, their backgrounds, and their dreams.
Virtually spending time with these children has challenged the way in which I understand the stories of the displaced. I was surprised by how the children spoke of their homes, how they longed to return, despite what they were exposed to when they were there. They spoke of the loved ones that they had left behind, they reminisced about their friends in the same way Winnie the Pooh speaks about friendship.
These stories reminded me of the significance of friendship both personally and professionally. I have learnt how vital friendship is to those that have been forced to leave their homes; both the memories of the friends that they have left behind and the new friendships that they have made.
Those memories help to form an understanding of their past and their heritage. The new friendships pave the way for settling in and creating a new community and a new sense of home.
On a more personal note, the work that I have been a part of has reminded me that despite being far from home, friendship both near and far is important. I have met so many influential and wonderful people during my time at UNICEF, and like the stories of Winnie the Pooh and the children, they will remain in my heart forever; as friends.
UNICEF produced “11, an album from children to children with support from the European Union and in partnership with Jad Rahbani a Lebanese composer. The album features 11 songs from children in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Download the Album 11 on www.unicef.org/mena/11Album