ABOUT BYHAMZA


VISION

This project highlights the beauty of the Arabic language, thus replace negative associations of fear, terrorism and misery with hopes and dreams — all trough charity. 

One simple word can help break down barriers and challenge preconceived prejudices towards the Arabic and Muslim community, the Arabic language, and refugees.

byHamza sheds light upon the hope and aspirations of communities facing Islamophobia, aiming to inspire its consumers with a glimpse into situations by capturing the beauty of each individual and event.

ABOUT

This project will contribute to frontier and highlight the beauty of the Arabic language by offering a pre-collection of tote bags carrying Arabic words & phrases.

Even though Covid-19 is occupying our thoughts and things may feel surreal, islamophobia is an ongoing issue that Middle-Eastern people has to deal with every single day.

The bags are made out of 100% organic cotton in Bali, Indonesia by the founder herself.  

THE BACKSTORY

A UC Berkeley student was booted from a Southwest Airlines for speaking Arabic. Are we surprised?

“On 6 April, Khairuldeen Makhzoomi, an Iraqi refugee and UC Berkeley student, was on a Southwest Airlines flight at Los Angeles international airport talking to his uncle on the phone. He was removed, interrogated and searched by the FBI as a result. Then he was forced to find another flight. Why? Because another passenger heard him speak Arabic. “Inshallah,” which means “God willing,” an expression used by all native speakers of Arabic irrespective of religious affiliation, seems to have been the trigger”.

– TheGuardian.com  

MY STORY

My name is Aliaa Noelle Hamza, I was born and raised in Larvik together with three siblings. As a Norwegian girl, born of a Syrian mother and Iraqi father who both immigrated because of political issues and war, life has been different with another cultural background and family history. Growing up in a community with a different story than my Norwegian friends, I had to accept norms and rules from two completely different cultures, which could be really challenging. This has, however, formed me to who I am today, and I have never been prouder of my background - because I haven't been exposed to islamophobia in the same way many refugees have. 

I have been scared every time I have to go through airport security because of my Arabic name in my Norwegian passport. I have witnessed many people with a similar background facing discrimination and racism because of preconceived prejudices - because we are born with a Middle Eastern Ethnicity. But I keep on fighting the good fight, and I want to prove that I am a hard-working woman who fights for justice regardless of adversity. I want to work for a society that sees diversity as a resource and reduces the prejudices and xenophobia associated with the refugee situation in Norway today. I am proud to be a Norwegian Syrian-Iraqi, and I will continue spreading love and inspire people with my own and other people’s stories.

My background, my mother, and our family situation inspire me to do something good for my second home, Syria. Not being able to go back to Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011, I want to do my best from my safe home in Norway. With this I want to fund and help the children in Moria which you can read more about here.

I want this project to communicate that Islam, Muslims and the Arabic language does not equal terror; that refugees are not fortune hunters. That countless children and their families who fled their countries will not give up, but live in hope for a brighter and better future. The tote bags will contribute to challenge any preconceived prejudices towards Arabic and Muslim community, the Arabic language and refugees. Every phrase has a meaningful message and story behind it.

 
#evacuatethechildrenfromMorianow

The fear of the coronavirus is spreading inside Moria refugee camps, while the conditions in the camp keeps getting worse. Daily we receive desperate messages from those with no chance of following the advice given by the world’s health authorities. It is now time to show solidarity with the most vulnerable of all!

A Drop in the Ocean have been present at Lesbos since 2015. Until recently we have been the only Norwegian organization working within the refugee camp of Moria. We have closely been watching what has been happening inside the camp, we have witnessed a camp that has become increasingly crowded and we have seen the consequences that has had for residents of the camp.

There has been a shortage of water here for a long time, and the sanitary conditions have been more than critical. Toilets built for a population of 2,800 can hardly meet the needs of over 20,000 people.

People live on top of each other. Some with their own family members, others with people they have met on their way or with totally strangers. Getting food means standing in a crowded line for hours, every day. It goes without saying that the advice on good hand hygiene, distance and isolation is difficult to follow inside the camp. It is simply impossible!

So far, there have been reports of 6 infected on the island among the locals, where an elderly woman died of Covid-19 a few days ago. Although the Greek authorities have implemented several measures to limit the spread of the virus, based on what is happening in the rest of the world, how long can this last?

We know that the virus spreads like fire in dry grass. Moria and other refugee camps are in great danger of being the driest place of all.

It can be difficult to imagine what it means to live in a closed refugee camp, without the opportunity of leaving. You may have seen the pictures, Erna, but pictures can hardly describe the harsh reality.

During our time present at Lesbos, through our various activities both inside and outside Moria camp, we have witnessed a human despair and misery that is difficult to describe.

We have met increasingly apathetic young children, children who engage in self-harm and we have witnessed suicide attempts where some have also succeeded. Most recently a few days ago. We have witnessed many fires, several of which have claimed human lives, and many have lost all their personal belongings. We have witnessed children coming to the clinic with severe burns. The fires that help keep people warm cannot be child proofed.

We have witnessed 4-year olds living without relatives in the camp, reacting so violently that humanitarian workers have had to evacuate. We have met single women, pregnant after being raped, living in constant fear and outrights fighting to get a pair of shoes that fit, during a distribution as unworthy as it may become.

We have first-hand knowledge of people selling their kidneys to human traffickers as a payment to be smuggled out of Greece. We have experienced hundreds of children gone missing. No one is calling for them, or cares about where they are.

That all this is happening in the front yard of Europe is well documented, but why does it take such an incredible long time for anyone to act, Erna?

And if you think that the refugee crisis is over, think again. Boat refugees continue to come to the Greek islands. So far this year, more then 9 500 people have fled to Greece. This is more then tree times as many as Norway has agreed to receive in a whole year. Where is the Norwegian solidarity?

You probably know that before the coronavirus came to Europe, several EU countries opened up for something to be done. Countries like France, Luxembourg, Finland and Germany said they would welcome single minors and families with children. This must have been a gift for you and the Government, Erna, who have been waiting for a common European solution all along.

We should not wait for absolutely every country in Europe to join this effort. Sometimes, someone has to take the lead. It could have been us, Erna. Norway, previously referred to as a humanitarian superpower, could have joined the countries mentioned above.

SV was the first political party encourage the Norwegian authorities to do the same. They were later followed by the political parties Rødt and MDG. Several municipalities such as Oslo, Bergen and Stavanger have stated that they will accommodate more refugees.

But the you and government have been awfully quiet, Erna. Instead of meeting an open demand to evacuate children and young minors from Moria, you hid behind the figures of Norways contribution when it comes to money and expert help. In the beginning of March this year, after Turkey opened its boarders to Greece, Monica Mæland, Minister of Justice and Public Security, admitted the following:
– We have been asked to accept refugees from Greece before, but our answer is no. Relocation of refugees is not a response to the situation we are in now.

Norway’s response was rather to send a number of mattresses, beds and tents to remedy the situation. Looking at the situation today, Erna, we find Mælands answer extremely difficul to relate to. Norway should have seized the opportunity when possible, because in the few weeks that have passed the situation has gone from to bad to worse! Mattresses, beds and tents will help no one in an overcrowded area when the coronavirus is now knocking on the door.

We do know that the European countries that have previously said yes now admit that the situation is difficult. At the same time, the European Commission will continuously asses what is possible to achieve right now.

In light of the closed boarders and strict control of movement, we understand that it can be difficult to transport people from Moria to Norway, but it shouldn’t be more difficult than to get seasonal workers for agriculture as your government have decided it should be opened up for.

Something that is really flourishing these days is creative ideas on new solutions. How about looking into the possibility of bringing refugees from the Greek camps to be agricultural workers, so much needed in Norway. Many of them do have backgrounds from agricultural work and they are used to the hard work.

And what about health workers so much needed in all of Europe. How about bringing some of the health-care expertise now rotting in the mud and garbage of Moria and other camps in Greece to Europe? These are doctor, nurses and pharmacists, we let go to waste, now when they are needed the most.

What if the government would give the task of evacuating children and single minors to the tourism industry? They have empty cruise-ships and hotels that can be used to help refugees, with the help of the government. This can prevent layoffs and bankruptcies in an now vulnerable industry. Isn’t this an idea worth pursuing?

We can promise you one thing Erna, all the humanitarian organisations are willing to contribute. The desire to help those who need it most have proven to be part of the Norwegian spirit even in times like this.

After all, it is up to you and the government.

Evacuate Moria now – tomorrow it may be too late!

Written by: Trude Jacobsen and Sidsel E. Aas. 
(First published in Agenda magazine 01.04.2020)


All proceeds go to A Drop in The Ocean and the #evacuatethechildrenfromMorianow