Sharing supplies and support with Syrian refugees
Jun 14, 2013
By Patricia Mouamar, World Vision Lebanon
Working in communications with World Vision in Lebanon, I have visited dozens of Syrian refugees over the last year and a half. I have talked to them and shared their stories, and I am still in contact with many of them.
None of them, however, can ever tell me what they imagine their future will look like.
"Alahou Aâlam," they say. "God only knows."
During my visits, my questions are often addressed to all members of the family, but one question in particular tends to cause every Syrian mother to tear up.
"Tell me what your house looked like in Syria," I ask. None of the women are able to finish their sentences without choking up while describing their homes.
"It was my paradise," says Abir, a Syrian refugee mother. "I had a big house, with a big kitchen, a garden, and a bed for each of my children," she adds. Today, Abir, her husband, and their four children are living in a car garage that they share with another family.
The violence in Syria affects all people there, regardless of economic or social class. Many families living in Lebanon in makeshift shelters once had houses, good jobs, and hope for the future. These things are no longer certain.
Despite all of this, however, the Syrian refugees I have met cherish the relationships and temporary communities they have built up around themselves. They care about each other, and they have cared for me.
I lost my father about a month ago, and his death was devastating. I am still learning to cope, but what has surprised me the most is the number of refugees who have sent me messages of condolences. They care, not only about their own loss, but also about the loss of others. I personally had the luxury of crying over my father's tomb, and praying at his funeral, but some Syrian refugee parents I have met were deprived of that.
"I lost two sons in a bombing a few months back," says Shamma, a Syrian mother. "I just received a call informing me about their death. I don't know whether they are buried, or just thrown on the side of a street.”
Basic needs for food and shelter are meanwhile driving some refugees to desperate measures. Some of the refugees have no protection from the rain or harsh sun. Others forage alongside cattle for rotten potatoes in the farming fields.
"We waited until Lebanese farmers harvested the potatoes, and we would go to collect what was remaining," says Nurie, another refugee.
After every visit to the Syrian refugees, I go home and share some of the stories with my mother, who always prepares a delicious meal for us.
"Why don't you just help them?" she often asks.
“We are,” I tell her.
Thankfully, my work as a communications manager with World Vision allows me to witness the assistance provided to 80,000 refugees every month through food vouchers, clean water, and educational activities.
The number of refugees in the area is increasing by thousands each day, however, and without more support we cannot hope to meet their needs.