A PLACE CALLED HOPE
A family forced to seek refuge with good neighbors...
Sakeena is a mother of three from Syria, but only her daughter lives with her now in their home in Beirut. The family had a peaceful home in Syria surrounded by flowers, fruit trees and Sakeena’s clothes shop.
"I remember a time where everybody was happy," says Sakeena. "We'd spend time with family and neighbours. We lived a comfortable, happy and calm life." All of this was destroyed in the conflict. "Even my daughter's toys," she says.
Life started to become unbearable as the conflict closed in. Sakeena hoped that kind people from neighboring Lebanon would welcome them. But first they had to risk their lives to get there…
Sakeena washing dishes in her kitchen in the makeshift settlement for Syrian refugees in Beirut, Lebanon | Credit: Ruth Towell/Tearfund
An armed group came and took over Sakeena's community. Two years of bombing and torment followed. Their house and the house next door were hit. "My daughter still wakes at night fearing the bombing," says Sakeena.
Eventually, their home was destroyed and the family ended up sleeping in nearby fields. They made a break for the border. "We ran past dead bodies and didn’t look back."
They paid a smuggler $500 – from money saved from her shop – and were taken and locked in a room. At 3 am they were loaded on a vegetable truck with many other families.
The children were so frightened they just froze. Children of all ages were put in nappies so they could last the journey. The truck only stopped once to use the toilet and the passengers drank out of puddles.
When they arrived in Beirut, they joined a settlement of Syrian refugees. "I loved my home in Syria. But this is nothing like it," says Sakeena. It's just a room, a small toilet and a tiny kitchen.
Thankfully, Tearfund's partner – through the Tahaddi Centre – have been helping Sakeena and her daughter. Tahaddi's health center provides free medical care to hundreds of patients.
Tahaddi's social work team gives extra care and support for Syrian refugees, including trauma counseling, home visits and material assistance. By showing solidarity to families like Sakeena's, the center staff are reaching out to the community with love and compassion.