Syria Crisis: Mira is a Shopping Queen for a Day
Two months ago, Syrian refugees and CARE staff from Jordan and Lebanon participated in the “Dead Sea to Red Sea marathon” in Jordan, raising more than $25,000 for CARE’s Syria response. With more than $8,000 of that money, CARE Lebanon distributed clothing vouchers for 267 children who live in a former school building called “Silver Star” and informal tented settlements. With these vouchers worth $33 each, the children were able to go shopping and choose their own clothes in a local store.
In a small CARE tent outside the store, Syrian refugee parents are waiting along with their children for their turn to buy clothes. Hanan sits in the back of the tent. On the chair next to her sits her 11-year-old daughter Mira, a tall blond girl with shiny blue eyes, waiting for the bus to take her back home. Mira smiles and looks at her bag full of new clothes. Hanan left Syria with Mira, her husband, and her son Hadi two years ago to visit another daughter who got married in Lebanon many years ago. “We only wanted to visit. But while we were staying in Lebanon the situation in our hometown Homs got worse and worse. We could not leave,” Hanan says.
In the beginning, they stayed with the daughter they had come to visit in Lebanon. But there was not enough space for everyone, so they moved to a smaller apartment. “We could not stay there for very long. After a few months we had no more savings and my husband could not find permanent work.” Her husband worked on construction sites, but these were only seasonal, low paying jobs that were hard for a 54-year-old. Hanan’s 26-year-old son Hadi also works on construction sites, and contributes $150 to $200 US every month. “All of this is not enough to afford an apartment in Lebanon. We had to move to a tented settlement.”
During the cold winter months, Hanan’s family received support from CARE for their survival. "CARE has been distributing ATM cards, blankets, mattresses and hygiene items to Syrian families in the area which helped us cope with the winter. We were very happy with the quality and quantity of the blankets."
A few months later, Mira, the 11-year-old girl, was very happy to receive CARE's clothing voucher. She bought a new pair of jeans, a yellow top, a pair of black slippers with flowers and hair accessories.
Mira is happy in her new school and has made many friends in Lebanon. But when she starts talking about her friends and family in Syria, she bursts into tears. "I miss my grandparents, my uncles, aunts and cousins who are still in Syria so much. We can't visit them and the only contact we have is by phone every once in a while".
Her mother Hanan finds it very difficult to live in Lebanon even though she receives a lot of support from her Lebanese neighbors. "The prices for rent, food and everything we need are high; there is no water and electricity. We always need support from neighbors and from organizations like CARE. I am tired of living like this. It is making us all very distraught and exhausted. Today I am happy because my teenage daughter could finally do what all teenage girls should be able to do: go shopping and choose something they want.”
By Racha El Daoi, CARE Lebanon
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