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Lebanon: transplanted seeds in foreign soil, waiting for hope to spring

Wouroud Ramadan is a Syrian refugee, a mother of two and an entrepreneur living in Qobbet Chomra, Akkar, Lebanon. Photos by Marguerita Sejaan/CARE

Wouroud Ramadan is a Syrian refugee, a mother of two and an entrepreneur living in Qobbet Chomra, Akkar, Lebanon. Photos by Marguerita Sejaan/CARE

They call me Wardeh, which means ‘only one rose.’ I’ve been here for seven years with my husband Nassim. I have two daughters. They are my life.

Nisrin is one eye and Yasmin the other eye. That is my family. We live with my mother-in-law.

Homs… It was like heaven on earth. Very beautiful. I am very fond of it and wish it could go back to how it was before.

If I had an eraser, I would have erased all the days of sorrow.

But circumstances and fate willed it, and we left Syria in 2012. We left because of the war… when we lost Dad and my brother… It was my mom, with us girls and two young brothers. We got scared.

Wouroud's story

With my family with me, I own the world. When they’re in good health and are well, I am well. I am very happy; we spend good times together and understand each other. Life is beautiful and we make it beautiful.

My husband is a farmer, working on land he doesn’t own. And I recently became a producer, after an opportunity given by CARE. When the course offered me the opportunity, I realized that I could establish myself. I make and sell homemade food supplies. I started with peppers, then cured eggplants. I was making pickled olives for myself when someone saw and tasted them. He ordered some and I made them for him.

When I sell something, and a person wants it, I want to make it again.

After the course, I learned how to budget; for how much I bought the goods, how much I can sell them, and the profits I would make. I sell my products in winter. They are more in demand in winter and the month of Ramadan. During these months, we don’t work the land. I sell my products and that’s how we help each other with our expenses at home.

[At first, Nassim was against Wouroud going into business for herself.]

Then, he started encouraging me, he started working with me. He is my support. He brings me products. He works with me when I work. And he’s the one doing the deliveries.

It’s still a small start, but I dream of growing my project. After selling to households, I would sell to cooperatives. And, God willing, to export later abroad.

I told [my husband] that I want to enroll in a course to learn how to make orange blossom water and rose water. He asked me, ‘What will you do after that?’ and I told him I want to prepare molokhia leaves, okra, and mint, because the mint I prepare at home stays green, not like the one we find in stores with a dull color and stems. He said, ‘Well done! Your project has many great opportunities and every year you can add something new.’

I crochet in my free time. It’s not my permanent job.

Resilient dreams

My father went missing in Homs. I hope to see him again or to know something about him. Dad used to encourage me in anything I did. Even if it was something simple, he made me feel like it was an achievement or a great invention. I wish I could see him again, that he’s still here.

I struggled a lot; the road to get to my daughters was very long. When I got my daughters, the situation in Lebanon deteriorated. The prices increased. My daughters were very young, and we couldn’t find milk for them anymore, so they started eating what we had at home. I feel that my daughters were deprived of some things, but it wasn’t in my hands or my husband’s. My husband was doing everything he can, but the economy was in crisis, and we had the bare minimum.

My dream is for [my daughters] is to be in a good school. To not deprive them of anything because they are my happiness on earth, my heaven on earth, my own eyes. I want them to be the happiest. I should wish something for my husband. May my husband have his own land. At the end of the year, his hard work will be for himself, not for renting land and workers

He may have small means, but he has big ideas, and his work is beautiful. He was the first to plant strawberries in the region and everyone talked about it.

Sometimes I feel tired and don’t show it to my family, because they take their strength from me, and I take mine from them.

Every woman has potential but sometimes may need just a small push to start.

Women are the solid rib of society that does not tilt, even though our society says that women are crooked ribs, but that’s wrong. This crookedness exists to protect the heart. She protects the home, and the family, and she can be anything.

As told to CARE staff. Interview edited for clarity. For more information about CARE’s work in Lebanon, please visit our programs page here.

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