Abeer and her family fled Sudan 3 years ago and have been rebuilding their lives in Scotland ever since. They’ve been in survival mode but their break with Family Holiday Charity, courtesy of the ScotSpirit campaign, has helped them to realise they can enjoy this time of transformation too.
Abeer’s voice is light as she tells us about her family. Her two sons, eight and six, are “very lovely and joyful boys. They love to smile and laugh all day, and my husband is such a great dad to them”. The family has difficulties here too though, with one son diagnosed with autism, and the other having a severe visual impairment.
“My older kid, he's not aware of danger at all. He needs to be supervised all the time. He might just break into a panic attack. My younger son needs to be supervised because he can bump into things easily if it is an unfamiliar area.”
But Abeer speaks fondly of how she and her husband support each other and work together to overcome every hardship that the family face.
Initially things were overwhelming with very young children needing constant supervision and discovering that Abeer’s qualifications didn’t mean anything here. “I have to get my equivalent qualifications here so I can start working. It takes me a while to study and do the exams along with everything else.”
‘Everything else’ includes learning a new language. But whilst Abeer and her husband have been working on their English, so have their children.
“You need to hear my kids, how they talk. They start to have the accent here. It's a little bit challenging for us, and they don't know that they are using the accent. Sometimes I struggle to understand from the first go, definitely learning and practising is the goal here.”
Isolation has been another barrier for the family, particularly during the pandemic, but now community is what helps them to get by. Abeer’s husband volunteers at a community centre who support the family, “They are very helpful, we just told them that he needs to be confident in talking and immediately they assigned him to reception to help his language skills.”
It’s the team at the community centre who contacted Family Holiday Charity to get Abeer and her family their first ever holiday. Giving them the time to laugh and smile together without worries. And to all swim together for the very first time.
Swimming together in the pool is a favourite memory from their holiday, but it’s also been a moment of realisation for Abeer.
“We’ve spent the past three years just focusing on building over. Trying to get equivalent qualifications, studying, focusing on the kids and we didn't have that good quality time where we are just relaxed, just about having fun and that's all.
“I realised during the break that I should spend more quality time with the kids because it really makes a difference. Now we have one day a week which is a family day where we all get together and have fun, outdoors or indoors.”
As the family make plans to have dedicated weekly family time for fun, they’re also getting involved in fun activities in the community too, like going to birthday parties for the children’s schoolfriends. They’ve bought a family calendar where the children can mark on their plans in crayon, and they’re thinking bigger too, with a trip to a London theme park on the cards.
“My kids are happy, I'm happy and my husband is happy. Right now we feel safe, we feel blessed, we feel gratitude towards everybody helping us.”