Sri Lankan woman from Gaza

Fathima Rikaza and her four children found refuge in Sri Lanka, leaving behind a heart-wrenching decision and their Palestinian husband in war-torn Gaza.

Rikaza and Abdul Lateef, a scholar who met and married in Sri Lanka, had built a life in Gaza surrounded by Abdul’s family. But with Israeli airstrikes turning their days into a constant struggle, fear became their unwelcome companion.

Sleep was stolen, replaced by the anxiety of an emergency backpack holding two dresses and a prayer mat. Even nights were spent fully dressed, ready to flee at a moment’s notice.

Amidst this turmoil, Abdul, prioritizing the safety of their children, made the agonizing decision to urge Fathima to evacuate with them. With his ageing mother and disabled sister needing care, he had to remain behind.

Now in Colombo, Rikaza’s children can finally sleep soundly, but the ache of separation is constant. She speaks to Abdul twice a week, their voices carrying the weight of longing and worry. Knowing his family has lost 50 members in the conflict adds to the pain.

Though safe in Sri Lanka, Fathima’s thoughts drift back to Gaza, yearning for the day she can reunite with Abdul and rebuild their life. Until then, she holds onto hope for peace and the promise of family once again whole.

Photo credit: Arab News

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