Fadwa Bouhedda, a senior at Mills College who studies Environmental Science has long been passionate about serving the unprivileged. For many years she was inspired by the work of nonprofit organizations broadening prospects and cultivating a sustainable environment for humanity around the globe, which consequently led her to become a Global Ambassador for One Million Lights, in a recent trip to Al – Za’atari Camp, Jordan.
Since the uprising of the brutal conflict in Syria in 2011, more than 2.5 million refugees have fled their homes in search of peace, safety, and normalcy. While a vast majority of these people are seeking refuge in Turkey, Iraq, and all across Europe, the Zaatari refugee camp, a 3 square mile piece of land located in the vast Jordanian desert, has overnight become a permanent home for tens of thousands of refugees.
In the summer of 2015, I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to give back to the distressed Syrian refugees in the form of solar lamps. The camp, which is divided into 12 districts by the United Nations High Commissioner (UNHCR), directed me to district 8, the site in which most families and students were struggling to complete work after sunset due to poor electricity outlets.
While conducting research on water quality and analysis within the camp site, I took the opportunity to distribute and introduce to Syrian families the solar based (portable) lights that could extend productive hours of the day for children, adults and the elderly.
Prior to the distribution, families heavily relied on kerosene-fueled lamps that women and young children were exposed to on a daily basis. As this has adverse health effects, I explained to the families along with my professor, Dr.Raed, that this will facilitate a more cleaner and sustainable lifestyle. I continued to demonstrate what solar energy is, how solar lights use energy from the sun to illuminate, how it could increase community members productive hours of the day and most importantly how it is important that we educate our youth and camp members on renewable energy.
If there was anything I acquired from this experience was that indulging in different cultures and to experience the way other nations live, without the privileges that we take for granted, was most captivating. It is key for individuals to be cognizant of the tribulations people endure outside of our country. Now that I’m back home with electricity accessible within the reach of a fingertip and a lifestyle that I am infinitely grateful for, I feel honored to have been given this opportunity to meet and connect with the displaced people of Syria who have so little yet are able to offer significant insight within my short stay period.
Please continue to support and fund the superb organization of One Million Lights to aid the displaced.