Asmahan is a 43-year-old single mother of three children living in a camp for internally displaced people inside Syria.
She lost her husband four years ago. Since his death she has become the sole breadwinner for her family.
Speaking to staff from Bahar Organization, ShelterBox’s implementing partner working inside Syria, she said:
I didn’t have a choice but to stand strong to protect my children.”
“I was working as a teacher in an elementary school when my husband died, my youngest was only three at the time and he needed my full attention which made my work more difficult.
Despite all of this, I was able to secure the main needs of my children. We used to live in dignity.”
The Search for Safety
When the war started in her village, Asmahan said it became too dangerous for her and her children to stay.
She needed to find a way to get them away from their home to a safe place.
“At first, we moved to a nearby village where we stayed for two months, but it wasn’t long before the conflict reached the village and we were displaced again,” she said.
“We were not alone, many other families were in the same situation, so we all moved together.”
Conditions in the Camp
They finally reached a camp which contained a collective center where dozens of families lived under one roof.
“There were many displaced people living in a very bad situation”, explained Asmahan when talking about the center. “There was only one big tent for a lot of women and children, while men were staying and sleeping out in the open.”
“Due to the severe lack of blankets, and the harsh cold conditions, many people were sharing the same blanket. My children and I were also sharing one blanket.”
Asmahan and her children lived in these conditions for three months.
I reached a certain extent where I started to think that death was better than living in these conditions and seeing my children tormented.”
Bahar Organisation reached the camp where Asmahan and her children were staying and distributed ShelterBox tents, blankets, mattresses, water carriers, and solar lights to the displaced families living in the center.
She received a tent and aid items provided by ShelterBox and Bahar Organisation.
“You can’t imagine how happy we were for getting these items, particularly the tents and the blankets”, she said. “Many babies and infants were at the risk of death because of the freezing cold.”
Your assistance was the lifeline for all of us. I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Daughter Asala Shares Her Story
The team also spoke to Asmahan’s 14-year-old daughter Asala about life inside the camp.
She said, “Before we got a private tent for us as a family, the life was unbearable, neither me or anyone was able to sleep comfortably or deeply during the night. There were always babies and children crying, elders moaning from pain, and men outside the tent talking loudly.”
“Now with our own tent and household items, the situation is better. At least we can feel comfortable and warm at night.”
Although it’s a small tent, it’s like a palace for me. What really concerns me now is getting back to school, so I can continue my study. If I didn’t study I won’t be able to work and secure my and my family’s needs in the future, like what my mum did.”