Written by
Suzanne Ling

When we were younger, we had a lot of plans and dreams. We dreamed of a bright future, a happy family, having a beautiful home and just everything nice. When we were younger, everything seemed possible.

But most of the time; life doesn’t go the way we want it to be.

When I was a teen, I dreamt of becoming a doctor – going for humanitarian missions, serving the poor and saving lives. However, what I didn’t know was that it is extremely expensive to attend Medical School, and I didn’t have results good enough to secure a scholarship.

Obviously, things didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to be. I felt crushed when I found out that I didn’t have enough money to fulfil my “dream”. I searched up all the roles that I could find which sparked my interest and was closest to becoming a doctor – and I ended up choosing Psychology.

Thankfully, I grew to love psychology a lot, and I’m definitely loving what I’m doing now in Picha. Even though my life is different from what I’ve dreamt of, I would say that this is way beyond what I’ve imagine I could do (in a good way).

This is how life is. Things change along the way, challenges come into our lives, unexpected tragedies happen — and most of the time, we simply can’t control them.

However, no matter how much all our lives have changed, how different our reality seemed as compared to our dreams — nothing can compare to the devastating change in life that has hit millions of refugees around the world.

I spoke to Razan recently who is one of our youngest chefs from Syria. She’s just 5 few years older than I am, and it breaks my heart seeing how her future was stripped away because of the war.

“Suzanne – I don’t mind publishing my story. More people should understand that we once had a beautiful life, but the war took it away.”

So in conjunction with International Women’s Day, we asked our Picha Mothers how life looked like before the war started, and we asked them this question:

“If you can send a message to your younger self, what would it be?”

The answers that the Picha mothers warmed our hearts, and broke our hearts at the same time.

Before the war started, before persecutions got out of control, before political parties decided to sacrifice the lives of their citizens for personal interest – life was good for Razan.

“I grew up in a family of my father and mom and 4 brothers. My father used to work hard to provide us with food and education, and I loved the food cooked by my mother.

“I was a student at the Fine Arts Institute, making art like crochet, illustration, garniture, and tailoring, until I had to escape from explosions and destruction.”

“But when the war started, I had to drop everything & flee Syria immediately with my husband and my young sons.”

“If I can send a message to my younger self, it will be this:
Appreciate everything beautiful and appreciate your father and mother.”

When asked about what she missed the most, her answer was simple:

“The best thing when you’re young is safety. If only I can go back in time, so I can once again see my beautiful house and see my parents.”

“My wish now is to raise my children, educate them, and provide them with the feeling of safety. I have lost that safety all of a sudden, fled my country, and left my mom and dad. I want to make sure that my children will not have to go through that.”

Throughout the month of March, we will be sharing a series of messages #ToMyYoungerSelf, shared by our Picha Mothers, Picha team, and 12 amazing artists who are collaborating with Picha for this IWD Campaign.

Our message to our younger selves reflects our struggles, our journey, our source of strength, and our values that we hold on to in life.

And from our Picha Mothers, we learned that ultimately – being safe together with your loved ones is all that matters.

More stories will be shared on our social media channels, so be sure to follow us! 🙂

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