"Refugee" Poem by Abdullah Kasem Al Yatim, illustrated by Sharon Chin

In conjunction with World Refugee Day, we are proud to feature an excerpt from a poem by 12 year old Syrian refugee Abdullah Kasem Al Yatim, junior winner of the Malaysia Migrant & Refugee Poetry Competition 2019.

Poem illustration by Sharon Chin on the occasion of World Refugee Day 2021
© Sharon Chin

In conjunction with World Refugee Day, we are proud to feature an excerpt from a poem by 12 year old Syrian refugee Abdullah Kasem Al Yatim, junior winner of the Malaysia Migrant & Refugee Poetry Competition 2019.

Thank you to Malaysian artist Sharon Chin for sharing her beautiful illustration with us on the occasion of World Refugee Day. Supported by the Migrant Worker and Refugee Poetry Competition. 

More on World Refugee Day 2021

 

Refugee | Abdullah Kasem Al Yatim

 

"Refugee" Poem by 12 year old Syrian refugee Abdullah Kasem Al Yatim

 

I was forced to leave my country; they said it is for safety.

I went quickly to pick a flower of jasmine.

Collected soil as much as a bottle of water,

and hid olive tree leaf in my little pocket

 

I went out of my sweet house and forget to take

my memories and hopes, instead of that

I took a song named ”All Arab countries are my home.”

 

I walked confidently and sang, “All Arab countries are my home.”

I was surprised by my new identity.

They called me a damned Syrian refugee

 

They violated my rights and stole my childhood

In addition, put me in a small tent far away from the worlds

 

My heart has broke and my soul was in pain

I treat myself with the smell of Jasmine

 

Yesterday I was a happy child cheering, “All Arab countries are my home.”

However, today I have became a refugee who was expelled from places.

 

Abdullah Kasem Al Yatim of Syria, junior (under 12) winner of Malaysia Migrant & Refugee Poetry Competition 2019

 


 

About Sharon Chin

Sharon Chin (b.1980, Petaling Jaya) is an artist living in Port Dickson, Malaysia. She has made paintings, performances, costumes, sculptures, installations and videos, and worked across a variety of fields, including fine art, criticism, illustration, film, and journalism. Her work has been shown in museums and galleries, on sidewalks and in shopping malls, in Malaysia and around the world. Recently, she illustrated Zedeck Siew’s short story collection Creatures of Near Kingdoms, available now from Maple Comics. Her work is in the permanent collections of Singapore Art Museum and Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA). 

Sharon Chin illustrated and animated the poetry by Abdullah Kasem Al Yatim in May 2020. Excerpt from an interview with Malaysiakini in October 2020. 

“Feeling that Malaysian authorities and citizens targeted migrant workers and refugees during the movement control order that was enacted to control the spread of Covid-19, Chin created a short video clip based on a poem titled "Refugee" by 12-year-old Abdullah Kasem Al Yatim from Syria.

It is unacceptable to her when the public rejects these marginal groups just because they don't have proper documents.

"It is deeper than human rights. It is really about who we are as a country. I feel like the way we treat the Rohingyas is so painful, and that's the truth of who we are. We collectively carry that shame. It is terrible, but we should look at it."

"From what I observe about this land is that, actually, it is very accommodating. I experienced this from the garden here. There are so many different things growing at all times.

"It is not in a controlled way; they will just grow by themselves. So the birds would like to put some seeds here, then you will wonder why it got this plant here. It happens by itself, but the land is what accommodates it, and allows everything to grow."

"I feel that is the true spirit of this land. For me, I don't really believe in nation, religion, border, flag, but I have deep responsibilities or allegiance to this place or the land itself."

 

About the Migrant Worker & Refugee Poetry Competition

First held in 2015, the annual Migrant Worker & Refugee Poetry Competition is a platform for migrant workers and refugees to showcase their literary talents through poetry.

The event is aims to foster mutual understanding between locals and migrants as well as seeks to promote greater tolerance of multiculturalism and give a voice to refugees & lower wage foreign workers. 

UNHCR is proud to be a supporter of this important initiative.