In a very muddy informal settlement in Baalbeck Lebanon, lives Ahmad with his 5 kids and wife.
No one could get closer to their tent without getting covered with dirt and mud. It was quite impossible to walk around the informal settlement to reach Ahmad’s family, a 30-year-old father who was very keen to share with us his story. “I will tell you everything, I won’ t be shy”. Ahmad was a plasterer back in Hama where he used to live and got married. “To be honest, we never heard a shelling, we just saw the war on TV. We never thought this may affect Syria” said Ahmad. They weren’t aware that the war would last longer than one month. His wife convinced Ahmad to flee Syria 4 years ago, when the shelling started to approach their town, hoping that they will return soon.
When they first came to Lebanon they settled down in a farm for a few months, there they knew that their house was shelled back in Syria, at first they didn’t believe that they lost all their belongings but then they started losing hope of coming back to Syria. Afterwards, they moved to a factory and they stayed there for a while. “from a farm to a factory, then to a garage, it was overwhelming every single time” said Ahmad with a sigh. They lived in a garage until his cousin saw his dire situation and asked him to moved in to his tent. “I don’t like when someone feels sorry for me but I had to accept his invitation for the love of my kids.” He said. “We were living in very very bad conditions, I didn’t have money to buy diapers and milk for my children and I couldn’t ask my cousin for money because what he already offered was enough” said Ahmad. 27-year-old Sanaa, Ahmad’s wife, brought some tea and sat on the floor. “Can you believe, that I used plastic bags as diapers for my baby?” she pointed at her son. “Once we are done with the bread, I used the plastic bag to change for my baby” said Sanaa as the spoon moved by the cup of tea. Ahmad and Sanaa don’t want their kids to know the truth. Many times, they slept without eating so their children would eat.
They had never imagined that one day they would receive an unconditional cash, it was too good to be true “when we first received the 175$, everything has become easier. I truly believe that money can’t buy happiness but I believe that money is something you cannot live without these days” claimed Ahmad. Now, he is managing his life through the money he is getting. “I am capable now of buying oil for the stove, food for all of us and milk for the baby. I am even paying for the transportation because I enrolled my kids in a nursery. I need to seize the opportunity as long as I am blessed with it” he said. On holidays, Sanaa used to add some new fabrics on her children’s old clothes so they would feel special wearing them, “last holiday, I was able to buy them some new clothes, fresh new clothes. I used to wash the clothes on a monthly basis but with the money we are getting I am able to buy some detergents; the kids are very happy now they can change every 2 days” said Sanaa with a smile on her face. They had days where they were not able to buy milk for their baby, but now it is not a problem anymore, they are receiving the 175$ cash provided by the Lebanon Cash Consortium which is a programme funded by UK aid and ECHO and provided by a group of several humanitarian organisations including Save the Children. “My kids don’t know anything about the war, they are not aware of the situation and this money helps me to hide the truth. It is not their fault and I won’t overwhelm them with life, I didn’t go through this when I was at their age” ended Ahmed.
Submitted by Nour Wahid- Save the Children Communications Officer