“I wish that everything becomes better!” In these simple words Shahed expresses her wishes for this Eid. What a simple Eid wish, yet holding a deep unspoken pain and many other hidden wishes. No doubt that Shahed lives a miserable life to just wish for a better one. Indeed, there is no better word than “miserable” describing the life of millions of other Syrian refugee children deprived form a dignified life, with little or no rights. “I wish better food, clothes, and living. A better life for me is to go back to school with my siblings. This is what I mean when I say a better life”, Shahed added.
Shahed is not alone. Here is Rabab, another sad story. She is a 10-year-old girl with worn-out clothes and untidy hair. In her deep silence, she sits away from the children’s gatherings with eyes holding so much pain and sorrow. When asked about Eid she said: “I don’t like Eid because it upsets me when other kids bully me and make fun of me just because I’m an orphan. I don’t have a father to buy me Eid clothes.” Those are just a few words from children who live in refugee camps, a place where no human being could find a decent and dignified life.
Statistics indicate that half of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children. So, wherever you go around these camps, you will find children playing and having fun; they sometime play with mud, jump into a puddle of dirty water, walk barefoot with worn-out clothes, or play with some debris picked up from here and there. You can find the paralyzed, autistic, blind and other disabled kids.
Rahaf, an eight year old refugee girl, expressed her thoughts and feelings by saying: “I wish my brother would be able to walk”, then she burst in tears as if she was his mother not his sister. Rahaf wished nothing this Eid for herself; rather, all she wants is for her 4-year-old brother Ahmed to run and play, as he has a neurological disease that has kept him from walking.
Um Mahmoud, a refugee and mother of five in one of the refugee camps in northern Lebanon, tells us that her children do not know anything about life other than their camp, to the point that when they first left the camp and saw the houses, they were surprised that not all people live in tents! Her five-year-old son Mahmoud approaches us to show us his notebook and a few pens, saying: “This Eid, I hope to go back to school and learn!”
The refugees’ tents hold so many stories behind their plastic sheets, they hold miserable stories about the lack of simplest human rights, physical and emotional pain, innocent lives living in the worst conditions ever, and simplest wishes such as asking for food and comfortable mattresses. Yet, the saddest stories are the children’s ones!
Since it was founded in 2012, URDA has been working on providing humanitarian services to Syrian refugees in Lebanon, especially to children. Urda’s education sector ensures formal and literacy education for Syrian children, whereas the sponsorship sector works to secure sponsors for orphans and develop suitable activities for them, while the protection sector works within the child protection program to provide psychosocial support for children with case management. This is in addition to supporting these children with their basic life needs in terms of food, shelter and medicine through the relief, shelter, and health sectors. The livelihoods sector also seeks to develop skills and build capacities, especially among women and mothers, by empowering them and teaching them professions through which they can secure their livelihood. URDA has achieved many success stories in these sectors thanks to its supporting partners and donors who believed in the importance of lending a helping hand to refugee communities to save them from misery and deprivation.
With the upcoming Eid Al-Fitr, URDA invites you to draw a joyful smile on a refugee child’s face, by providing Eid clothes and gifts.