As always, many thanks for your continued support. Today, I would like to share the story of a family who had to flee from their home in Syria and are now living safely in Lebanon and availing themselves of services provided by Concern.
It was the very real terror that faced Syrian farmer Ahmed*, his pregnant wife and their five children, who were all sleeping peacefully in their house in a usually quiet village that fateful day.
“I woke up at 5am. I could hear the bombing and gunfire. It was very close,” recalled the 38-year-old, who did not want his name revealed or his face pictured for security reasons.
“I woke everyone up and left the house and haven’t been back since.”
Ahmed* said they used their family car, threw some bags of clothes in it and then drove non-stop “from village to village” trying to find a safe place away from the conflict.
Ahmed* was in tears as he described the hardship that he, his family and many other refugees went through as they sought safety while travelling through their country – and the very real fear of death that they felt.
“Sometimes adults didn’t eat so that we could feed our children. There was a lack of bread. We once had a normal home, a peaceful life, and then this became our reality.”
Ahmed* also recalled losing many other people close to him as they too tried to flee the violence that has plagued Syria. “I lost cousins and many friends. One of my cousins was shot while trying to leave his village with my uncle,” he said with a deep sigh of despair.
He said they heard that many people were fleeing to Lebanon, where many Syrians had previously worked just over its northern border, and that they felt safe there.
“Just before the border we were told that another car would be waiting for us to take us to Lebanon,” said Ahmed*. “We were scared and covered in dust. A pick-up truck came and took us down this mountainous road. We hoped we would reach safety.”
Ahmed* and his family made it uninjured into neighboring Lebanon and his wife has since given birth to their sixth child. They were provided with accommodation in one of the many settlements dotted across northern Lebanon where aid agencies like Concern Worldwide provide a number of crucial services, such as water, tents and latrines, and supports to Syrian refugees.
Ahmed* said he still fears for his children’s future, but hopes that they can all one day return to their home.
“If I know the situation is better and that it is safe, I will go back,” he said. “We would prefer to go back to our home. We had three bedrooms, a kitchen and a salon. It’s my home.
“Here [in Lebanon] we have had a lot of help, but I miss my house, my village, the people.”
Concern Worldwide launched its response in Lebanon in May 2013 and has become a key humanitarian player in its northern region of Akkar, which is the country’s poorest area where it shares a long border with Syria.
Ahmed* described what has happened in his country in recent years as a “great tragedy.”
“My children need safety, education, to be healthy. I think about it, but I try to continue on and stay positive,” he said.
*name changed for security purposes