Sunday, August 25, 2019

"I remember my heart exploded for joy."

Back in 1991, Mevan Babakar and her family fled Iraq in search of a sanctuary. They traveled through Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, where they finally settled in a refugee camp in the town of Zwolle. Mevan was only five years old, but still remembers a Dutch humanitarian worker at the camp named Egbert. He was very kind, and after she and her family resettled in Bergen an Zee, he surprised the family by making a 100 mile journey from the camp to their front door to give Mevan a brand new red bicycle for Christmas.

"I remember my heart exploded for joy!" she said. "I couldn't believe it was mine. When someone gives you something better than you deserve, you have to start to reassess what you're worth." After Mevan and her family eventually moved to London, she earned a Master's degree in bio-engineering, and recently she felt a need to retrace her steps as a Kurdish refugee. She was determined to track down Egbert, but nobody in Zwolle knew him. "We kind of gave up," she said. Finally she tweeted a grainy old photo of him and asked her followers to help. Within hours, social media users put her in touch with Egbert and soon she met him at his home in Germany. She says she really wasn't thanking him just for the bike. "The gift of the bike, and those feelings, eventually became the value of my own self-worth."

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