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Making a tent your home

Two mothers share the difficulties of raising their children in tents while waiting for it to be safe to return home.

Written by Rachael Adams | 12 Mar 2021

Credit: Ruth Towell/Tearfund

They may be safe from conflict, but there are many other challenges that mothers and caregivers face when raising their children in refugee camps and settlements. Two mothers share their recent experiences with us about what it’s been like living in a tent.

Najwa from Syria

‘When the conflict started, our whole lives fell apart… there is nothing left of our homes and our land,’ shares Najwa*. She’s talking about the Syrian conflict, which marks its sombre tenth anniversary on Monday. Najwa is one of the 6.6 million people who has fled the country because of the violence.

Najwa and her husband have three children. They live with her husband’s brother, his wife and their three toddlers in a one-roomed tent in Lebanon. It’s all they can afford. ‘Anytime it rains we have water inside the tent. During winter, we really suffer from the cold – the children are freezing!’

Tearfund’s local church partner has been able to deliver monthly support parcels, which include food and also milk and nappies for the children. They’ve also been able to supply the family with mattresses and blankets.

‘Although we have nothing left in Syria and our houses are destroyed, our dream is still that things will get better there, so we can go back to our country, our land, and our families.’

Abeer from Iraq

‘We couldn't take our things with us because we were fleeing from IS… We just fled for our survival… We were crying and afraid at that time. There was lots of fear,’ shares Abeer.

Abeer lives with her husband, her four children and her husband’s extended family in a camp for displaced people in Iraq. ‘We exist here, and survive. But our children can’t have toys, and we can’t really leave the camp and do the things we want to do.’

Living in a tent is hard for the family: ‘The water comes into the tent from outside, and pools on the roof, weighing it down. The lightning frightens the children. Sometimes, it snows.’ With the water and mud coming into the tent, there’s a risk of it interfering with the small heater, and setting the tent on fire. But without using the heater, the family will freeze.

Tearfund was able to support Abeer and her family with a cash grant, enabling her to buy the essentials she needed for her family. ‘The help I received meant I could get clothes for the children. They were very happy. Without those things, we wouldn’t have had enough to get by.’

‘When we receive this kind of help, we feel like there is someone taking care of us.’

Her hopes for the future are to be able to leave the camp and go home. She wants to see her children well cared for and doing well at school.

Please pray

Loving God,

We thank you for mothers and carers around the world who are doing everything they can to raise children and keep them safe.

In a year that has been tough for so many reasons – where families have been kept apart due to conflict, coronavirus and disasters –- please comfort them, provide for them and help them to flourish.

We pray for the dreams they have – for themselves and their family’s future. Lord, bring them to fruition. Bring peace where there is conflict, healing where there is illness, and protection where there are disasters.

In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.


*Name changed to protect identity


This Lent, help us to restore a sense of home for people who have lost everything. Please give now to our Lent Appeal to help families like Najwa’s and Abeer’s not go without. If you give before 30 April, your gift will be doubled, meaning even more families can be reached with life-saving support.

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Written by  Rachael Adams

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