CRISIS IN SYRIA: Indecent Proposals
By Deborah Underdown, CARE UK
"Are you Syrian? Will you marry me?"
|Mofeeda, a Syrian refugee in Jordan. © 2013CARE|
These are just some of the questions that 34-year-old Mufeeda has been hearing since her husband, Awad, went missing in Syria.
The young family of six lived in fear in Syria, until they finally made the decision to leave their country. They could no longer handle the pressure and constant bombing.
"We decided to take the chance and leave everything behind us when we heard that Syrians who come to Jordan get assisted and provided with all the help they need," she says.
What Mufeeda did not know is price hikes, lack of income generating opportunities and exploitation were some of the many challenges that awaited her family.
After making sure his wife and children were settled in Jordan, Awad decided to go back to settle their affairs in Syria.
"I have not heard from him in 3 months – I do not know where he is or if he is even alive," Mufeeda says, obviously distressed.
Despite having arrived from Syria with no possessions, and having no source of income, Mufeeda now is responsible for providing food and shelter for the whole family. She has visited all the organizations based in Zarqa to ask for help, but all she received was a promise that they will contact her when they have something available.
She believes, "Local organisation representatives would assist Syrian women who were groomed and beautiful – nobody took notice of me as my eyes were constantly swollen from crying all the time."
Now Mufeeda puts on makeup, wears the one fancy outfit she has and heads off to the organizations to seek food packages and diapers for her children.
"Amazingly enough, it works most of the time" she added sarcastically.
Azhar, her 12-year-old son, dropped out of school and is now working full-time to provide for his family. He prepares coffee at a local coffee shop and works 12 hours for a daily wage of approximately $2.25. This is the family's only source of income and it isn't enough to feed the family, much less the other two women living with them.
They're all staying in a one bedroom house that lacks the basic utilities. They sleep on mattresses on the floor. And they have been threatened with eviction if they delay paying their rent.
"The landlord increased the price of rent to $270.00 when she discovered that more people are living in the house, and gave us a week to pay the extra rent or to leave the house," Mufeeda explains. "She could easily rent it for an even higher price once we leave."
The family's future is uncertain, especially if their financial situation remains as it is now. But what is clear is that their condition will only get worse if they don't get any help.
"I'm afraid we will end up on the streets," Mufeeda says.
That's why she worries her only option ultimately might be to accept one of the indecent proposals she keeps hearing from Jordanian men with the promise of money.