Iman* lost her home, her job and her baby daughter. For her, amidst grief and struggle, receiving help with food and rent was a practical answer to her children’s hunger and her family’s fear of having nowhere to live, but it also brought a message of hope. It said to her: ‘You are not alone.’
It wasn’t only food and rent, it was other kinds of assistance too. Each of them designed to meet the needs of a mother and her family. Each of them a weapon against the hopelessness that conflict had brought to them.
Iman and her husband used to live in Lebanon. They were well-educated and had good jobs. He baked sweets for a living and she was an assistant nurse for twelve years – the type of person the world is currently applauding for their essential service. The couple had a small son and when Iman was due with their second child, they returned home to Syria for the birth. They weren’t to know that war would trap them there for five years.
They were stuck. Their village became unsafe and they were forced to live on the move in the region – seeking safety from camp to camp. At one stage, Iman’s husband was captured and imprisoned for two and a half months before he managed to escape.
Life was difficult and terrifying.
In Syria, Iman fell pregnant a third time and gave birth to another daughter. Sadly, this baby girl was born with spinal muscular atrophy. This is a genetic disease affecting the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement. It meant that Iman’s tiny daughter often needed to be hospitalised, which was extremely hard as many hospitals in Syria had been bombed and doctors were scarce.
Feeling helpless and hopeless
‘It was not easy trying to move her from one place to another,’ says Iman. ‘[I felt] helpless when she needed hospital and desperate to make her feel better.’
It broke Iman’s heart to see her daughter in pain.
Eventually, the family managed to escape the conflict in Syria. ‘Reaching [Lebanon] was not easy; we had nothing and we knew no one,’ says Iman. They had safety and there were hospitals for her small child, but there were still challenges. ‘While trying to treat my daughter, it was difficult to have her admitted to a hospital even though the UN helped a lot. Not all expenses were covered and we struggled to find money to pay the hospital bills.’
Iman and her husband battled to find work. They both tried really hard, but they couldn’t even afford bread and their children cried all night from hunger.
Fortunately, Iman and her family were not alone.