Syria Crisis: Finding Home Elsewhere

Syria Crisis: Finding Home Elsewhere

Publication info

Mahmoud Shabeeb

In April 2011, approximately one month after the beginning of the conflict in Syria, Fayez, his wife, and their six children had to flee their village in Homs. They remained displaced, moving from place to place across the country, for more than three years.  Then, on the third of May 2014, the family crossed into Jordan where they were taken immediately to Azraq refugee camp, which had opened a few days earlier.

“I started working at the age of 17,” says 45-year-old Fayez. “It was a bit difficult for me to adapt to camp-life in the beginning, particularly because I had worked continuously for about 35 years. I used to work in trade, buying and selling different items from clothes to furniture.”

Fayez is now an incentive-based volunteer with CARE, helping the camp’s outreach team. “Despite being in the camp almost since it opened, I did not apply for volunteering for two main reasons: I did not think the currency rate between Syria and Jordan was very different (1 Jordanian dinar equals about 266 Syrian pounds), and I did not recognize our needs in the camp,” explains Fayez. “Later, I realized the food vouchers we received were not enough for us to make ends meet. We have other needs than food and shelter, so I applied to volunteer with CARE and I was hired.”

Fayez speaks of the differences the camp has gone through since he arrived. “Life in the camp has improved significantly since we arrived almost one year ago,” says Fayez. “At first, the floors consisted of gravel which was very dusty and accessible to insects and rats. There were no lights in the camp so at night it would be pitch black. Now, all the shelters have concrete floors and there are street lights at night.”

Although he has no leisure in the camp after work other than drinking coffee and playing cards with his neighbors, Fayez says life in the camp has been suitable for his children. “Two of my children go to school here in the camp, the rest are either above school age or prefer not to. My children are used to life in the camp now and have adapted to it.”

On occasion, Fayez has visited family living outside refugee camps in Jordan. “I did not feel tempted to stay there; it is difficult to find a house, and when you do the rent is very expensive. You cannot work, so you cannot provide the high rent or make ends meet.”

Displaced inside Syria for more than three years before making it to Jordan, Fayez suffered from serious health problems. “I was very ill and I passed out on the street several times in Syria.  I was lucky there were people to help me. But when I came to the camp I sought medical treatment, I was prescribed a medicine that cured me completely. I believe that a lot of the illness I suffered from was more related to the lack of security my family and I experienced. The moment we felt safe here, even our physical health improved.”

Like many Syrian refugees, Fayez does not expect the situation in Syria to improve anytime soon. “I don’t think the conflict in Syria will be resolved in the next twenty years or maybe more,” says Fayez. “Even if the situation improves there, my house has been completely destroyed. Where will we return to?”


 © 2015 Mahmoud Shabeeb/CARE