Celebrating World Refugee Day: In a Refugee Camp, Generosity Comes Full Circle

Salan was in his first year of university when the Syrian civil war ignited. By the time he graduated with a degree in math in 2014, violent conflict had engulfed northeastern Syria. As the Syrian Armed Forces, the Kurdish-led People’s Defense Units (YPG), and ISIS battled for control, Salan fled to the Kurdish region of Iraq, where he found refuge in the Domiz 2 Camp, a refugee camp housing others who had fled the Syrian war. Due to ongoing security concerns, Salan hasn’t been able to return to Syria. “I mostly miss my mother. I think a lot about her, my childhood, my school friends, and my hometown,” Salan said.

While living in the camp, Salan volunteered with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and fixed computers for people living there. He dreamed of opening his own shop, but he couldn’t save enough money to realize his dream. In March 2022, you heard about Salan from the Domiz 2 Camp management and decided to invest in him by providing a small business grant and a year of one-to-one coaching in our jobs creation program. With your investment, Salan purchased used laptops, wires, cables, hard disks, flash memory sticks, and maintenance equipment to open a computer and phone repair service in the camp. 

Thanks to Salan’s hard work and smart investment, his product line has grown, and his business is thriving. Photo by Hawar Adil for Preemptive Love.

Over the next year, Salan’s business grew, and now he is thriving. He has reinvested his profits to expand his business, buying a printer, security cameras, and laptops. In addition to computer/phone repair and maintenance services, Salan provides printing services, does security camera installations, and sells laptops. His expanded product lines include speakers, routers, power banks, and phone accessories. His shop is so busy that he employs another refugee in the camp to help. He knows firsthand how a lack of job opportunities is one of the biggest challenges refugees face as they try to rebuild their lives away from home. His next goal is to relocate his shop to a bigger space in the center of Domiz 2 Camp’s bazaar.

In this refugee camp shop, generosity runs full circle. The NGOs that Salan used to volunteer with are now his customers. He provides laptops at a better price than the NGOs would find outside the camp and maintains these organizations’ printers. He loans his camp customers money, embodying our jobs creation program’s core belief: people often know what they need; they need just a little help to get there. He is flexible when someone is late with a payment, understanding that life doesn’t always run as planned. He offers his customers monthly installment payments for laptops (an uncommon practice in Iraq) and doesn’t charge an extra cost to do so. The generosity underpinning his business practice has made his shop popular inside and outside of the camp. His customers include not only refugees from the Dohuk 2 Camp but internally displaced persons (IDPs) from other camps and residents of Dohuk, a nearby city. 

In honor of World Refugee Day, we asked Salan what he’d like people who have never been displaced to consider. Salan acknowledged that as support for refugees is decreasing, the need for job opportunities is more important than ever. He hopes our job creation program continues, crediting your support with changing his life. He also urges refugees to “depend on their skills” so they can “run their lives.”

In this journey called life, all of us are just passing through. We’ve all needed support along the way. In honor of World Refugee Day, consider making a donation so refugees and other displaced people can run their own lives. Sign up for our newsletter to keep informed. Sharing this post reaffirms that we belong to each other.

In this journey called life, all of us are just passing through. Recognize Refugees