Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Former child refugee to be reunited with aid worker who bought her a bike

Mevan Babakar’s wish to be put in contact with the man went viral

Mevan Babakar her heart 'exploded with joy' when she was given the bike.  
Mevan Babakar her heart 'exploded with joy' when she was given the bike.  

After an online plea for help, a former refugee who fled Iraq decades ago has managed to track down an aid worker who bought her a bike when she was five-years-old as a gift.

Mevan Babakar, 29, was born in Baghdad to Kurdish parents but spent five years as a refugee in the 1990s including time near Zwolle in the Netherlands. She has embarked upon a journey to see some of the places she went to when she was younger.

On Monday afternoon she tweeted a picture of a man who, “out of the kindness of his own heart” purchased a bike for her when she was a five-year-old refugee in Zwolle. Ms Babakar said she wanted to say thank you.

Writing in her original post that it was a “long-shot,” she said: “I was a refugee for five years in the 90’s and this man, who worked at a refugee camp near Zwolle in the Netherlands, out of the kindness of his own heard bough me a bike. My five-year-old heart exploded with joy. I just want to know his name. Help?”

The post has since been shared thousands of times and Ms Babakar is set to meet the man, currently unnamed on Tuesday afternoon.

“I knew the internet was great but this is something else,” she wrote in her update.

But the viral post sparked contact with others Ms Babakar had known in the camp in the 1990s.

She was messaged by other refugees who had been helped by the man and his wife, with one saying “they weren’t friends to me, they were family”.

Another aid worker from Ms Babakar’s time in the camp, known only as Sandra, reached out. It emerged Sandra was the first person to teach her how to use a computer. Ms Babakar now works in technology at the independent fact checking charity FullFact.

“More than anything children growing up as refugees need patience, love, reassurance that they are safe and opportunities to grow beyond what they've been through," Ms Babakar tweeted.

“To be honest, what child doesn't need this? We should be striving to provide that for everyone.”

Updated: August 13, 2019 07:00 PM

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