Former child refugee reunited with aid worker who gave her a bike

A former child refugee who posted an online callout to track down a camp worker who gave her a bike has found and met the man whose generosity brought her joy.

Mevan Babakar, 29, lived in a refugee camp in the Netherlands after she and her parents fled the Gulf war in the 1990s. On Monday, she posted a photograph of the former camp worker on Twitter, and asked whether anyone could tell her his name.

“This man, who worked at a refugee camp near Zwolle in the Netherlands, out of the kindness of his own heart bought me a bike. My five-year-old heart exploded with joy,” she said.

The tweet was shared more than 7,000 times in 24 hours, leading her to find the man and other refugees he had helped.

Babakar, who now lives in London, thanked the man, whom she identified only as Egbert, in person on Tuesday evening. Egbert, who has been helping refugees since the 1990s, now lives in Germany.

“He was so happy to see me. He was proud that I’d become a strong and brave woman. He said that was his wish for me when I was small,” said Babakar.

“I was really grateful that so many people had come together to make it happen. I was completely overwhelmed, and so was he. We had a shared moment where we both agreed that this was in fact crazy, but we were glad it was happening.”

She added: “He thought the bike was too small a gesture to make such a big fuss about but he’s really glad that it was the key to bringing us together again.”

Babakar said another camp worker, Sandra, whom she credits with helping her to use a computer for the first time, also got in touch after seeing the tweet. She said: “I’ve also had other refugees reach out to me and tell me that him and his wife helped them too. Their kindness has touched so many lives.”

Babakar’s family, who are Kurdish, travelled through Turkey, Azerbaijan and Russia before spending a year at the camp near Zwolle between 1994 and 1995. They eventually moved to London, where they settled.

Gulala Rashid, Babakar’s mother, told the Dutch website Destentor that the man had gifted her daughter a “beautiful, red, shiny bike” after inviting the family for Christmas at his own home.

Babakar, a fact checker, is currently on a sabbatical from work while she retraces her refugee journey.

Source: theguardian