Our Stories
Abubakr Bashir
Wellbeing Chapter
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I had worked as a journalist for over a decade in Gaza, and I was well respected. When I moved to the UK, my identity changed. I knew nothing about the place; I had no connections, no plans, and no support system without my family. My only advantage was that I could speak the language. I was forced to build my life back up from scratch, and suddenly everything I’d done before didn’t hold any importance any more.

In Gaza, the conflict was around me, but when I moved to the UK, the conflict was inside. I came from a place where despite covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I was in complete control of everything around me. I knew the people, what to expect from the government and how to handle different situations. Here I had zero control over things around me, and that was very damaging to my mental health.

I thought it would be easier to hear news about Gaza, especially war news, while living away from the city. It is quite the opposite. I have mixed feelings. I am very worried about my beloved people and so upset that I cannot be there for them as I always was. But I am also relieved that my children and wife do not have to endure this again.
The news and images trigger all the memories I thought had gone or been buried deep inside. I’m unsure how long it will take or how far I need to go to not feel bad whenever I hear news from Gaza.
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Personally, I did not seek professional help, but I wouldn’t recommend the same to everyone. It was important for me to take care of things myself, to feel in control instead of being taken care of, so that’s the approach I took.

I created this system called the ‘baby tactic’. As an adult, if you walk and get a glass of water, it means nothing – but for a baby, their first steps are a big achievement. I applied that perspective to my life.

The main goal was to survive and maintain my mental health and not to initially carry on with journalism. Media organisations have different approaches. Some with support and help and even have programs for people in such positions and some simply don’t care. I have seen both.

I lowered my expectations and felt happy and proud of every tiny achievement. For instance, I drove for years in Gaza, but when I reapplied for my licence in the UK and received it, I was very excited. When I was able to walk home from the supermarket without using Google Maps for the first time, I felt proud of myself.

Make the small things matter more because as a refugee, you often don’t have access to the big things.
Abubakr was born in Libya and moved to the Gaza Strip when he was young. He spent over two decades in the country, first as an English literature student, then as a teacher and translator, and finally as a journalist. In 2019, Abubakr fled the country when Hamas, the militant Islamic nationalist group that governs the territory, tried to control his reporting. Having relocated his wife and children to Egypt, he moved to the UK, leaving his parents behind in Gaza. Overnight, Abubakr went from being an employed citizen to an asylum seeker. He is presently studying for a Master’s degree at SOAS University of London and working as a freelance journalist and producer.
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Dr. Kate Porterfield
Clinical Psychologist
Based at the Bellevue Hospital, New York, on the Program for Survivors of Torture, Dr. Kate Porterfield supports journalists who face trauma, including those reporting from conflict zones.
read Kate's story
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