Syrian Refugees: A Mother's Struggle to Provide for her Children

Syrian Refugees: A Mother's Struggle to Provide for her Children

Publication info

Racha El Daoi

The Syrian conflict has affected the lives of millions of people, many of who are women and children. Five months ago, Rahma’s life was disrupted, as she had to flee to Lebanon with her family to escape the war. Rahma lives in the village of Ch’him in Mount Lebanon in a small basement apartment below a four-story building, which looks like it might collapse at any moment. Walking down the tilted stairs to her apartment you can see cracks in the ground. The unbearable smell of garbage wafts through the window, as the site had previously been used as dumping ground.

29-year-old Rahma is a mother of five children between the ages of two and eleven years. She spends most of her days working as a maid for different local Lebanese families. This way, she earns around $20 per day. In addition to her salary, which covers the $100 monthly rent as well as water and electricity bills, she receives UN food vouchers. Her children are attending a local school in Ch’hime, which is supported by the UN. "The school is in walking distance from our home so I luckily do not have to worry about transportation for my children,” says Rahma. “In addition, my children get cookies, juice and water at school so I do not have to give them money to buy snacks."

"We decided to leave our home in Yarmouk Camp in Syria when the fighting escalated in our neighborhood and out of fear of being arrested,” says Rahma. “If it wasn't for the hunger as the fighting cut food supplies, we would never have left Syria. I did not want to leave, and on our way out of the camp my husband was arrested, making everything worse especially that we have not heard from him at all ever since. So I fled to Lebanon alone with my children. At first we stayed at a relative's place, but we could not stay there forever. I decided to find my own place and work to provide for my children." 

Rahma explains that she finds life in Lebanon very difficult. "Lebanon is an expensive country and I feel unsafe here,” says Rahma. “In Syria I could go to the market, take my children to the amusement park or simply go out to buy ice cream. In Lebanon my children and I do not leave the apartment as soon as it gets dark. My children never go out to play."

In Syria, people are being kidnapped and killed. Families are losing their loved ones without knowing where they are buried. “I did not want to leave my beloved Syria. But the Syria I used to know has ceased to exist. My brother was arrested when he was undergoing surgery in a hospital. He was injured amidst the bombing. My mother started screaming and begging the armed men to let the doctors finish their work first. But instead they tortured him in front of her to make her stop screaming. They took him away and ever since then we have not heard from him."

Rahma first heard about CARE when one of the organization’s staff visited her during a household assessment after which she received CARE assistance last spring. "The help CARE provided was very good and covered our urgent needs,” says Rahma. “We received blankets, mattresses, buckets, hygiene kits, baby kits, water containers and kitchen sets. We had just arrived in Lebanon and were in need of basically everything.” Rahma also benefited from emergency cash assistance recently, which CARE distributes to cover families’ immediate needs. Rahma used her share to pay her debts and rent.

Rahma's hope for the future is that she can return to Syria. “I wish for peace in Syria. I want to go back home,” says Rahma. 

Written by Racha El Daoi, Communications and Information Management Senior Assistant.


CARE in Lebanon has supported more than 4,000 Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese families to meet water, sanitation and hygiene needs and to reduce the risk of waterborne diseases. © Photo: Johanna Mitscherlich/CARE