One hundred dollars a month: that’s the price Amira is paying for the small one-room shack her family is living in off of a main street in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. It’s an exorbitant price for Syrian refugees.
And one Amira isn’t sure she can continue to afford.
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She’s considering marrying off her 12-year-old daughter, Sheereen. She doesn’t want to, but “Sheereen would be our survival,” says Amira. Making Sheereen a child bride means Amira would be able to feed her family for just a little bit longer.
The mother of five fled her home in Syria, crossing the border into Lebanon—all to keep her growing family safe. Amira is seven months pregnant. And with another mouth to soon feed, she is running out of options. Beautiful Sheereen covers her face and sits in silence at the thought of being married at 12. There are no words.
Does Sheereen dream about her future? Her mother says: “She doesn’t answer you because no one has ever asked her this before.”“Nothing pleases me.”
It’s clear that Amira is suffering from depression. She has taken to calling herself Amira al Hazina, or “Amira the Sad”.
Leaving everything behind in Syria—her home, friends, belongings, and sense of security—is taking its toll on her. She worries constantly about her children’s health and safety. Especially now, her 10-year-old daughter, Shadia, is sick and spends most of her days sleeping. In the past, Bayan, 12, has needed medical care and blood transfusions. What if Bayan falls ill while they are living as refugees? Who will help her? How will they afford it?
“Is there anything worse than this?” asks Amira. “It’s humiliation, humiliation, humiliation. I spend my days sleeping or dwelling on my worries. I don’t like my life any more. Nothing pleases me.”
Ironically, amidst disaster, sadness and loss, her hope has not yet been fully snuffed out.
“Our hope is in God,” says Amira. “We’re not going to stay like this. God will help us.”Amira’s family is now registered with the United Nations Refugee Agency and have begun to receive relief aid such as food vouchers from World Vision. They will also benefit from hygiene kits and more.With files from Marie Bettings.