Kataya’s Story, Cyprus


Teacher Aspasia Marangou. Photo by A. Yianna/2014.


My name is Aspasia Marangou and I met Kataya while I was working in KISA, an NGO in Cyprus back in 2010. At the time, I was working on a research about the living conditions of migrant and refugee children living in Cyprus, and Kataya was the first person I interviewed. Her story struck me as I could see the pain drawn on every inch of her face.

A mother of four, she lived with her husband in Lebanon. Within a week her life had changed forever. Her husband was imprisoned for opposing the government and her house bombed during air raids. From the bombings Kataya lost two of her children. As if the pain of a mother losing a child is not enough, one of the two remaining daughters had to have both arms amputated.




Kataya came to Cyprus along with her two children to start over. She applied for asylum. Four years after, she was still waiting for an answer. She needed assistance to support her family and especially young Fatima who is a child with special needs that have to be met. “Can you imagine a child who cannot eat, drink, write, hold or do anything on its own? I cannot work full time and I am asking for help but no one is listening. I am a number, as everyone else is. I expected things to be different here. But they are worse.”

I felt there was nothing I could do or say to change the look in Kataya’s eyes…

1 family torn apart by war is too many

Learn more about our work with refugees at UNHCR.org