Mariam, 33, mother of five, gazes out of her tent at the snow capped mountains and the icy mud encircling the dwellings in the informal camp where she settled with her family in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley. Mariam and her childdren fled Syria’s conflict two years ago.
Back in Rif Aleppo, Mariam owned a house and a car, her three teenage daughters were outstanding students, her two sons had many friends, and her husband farmed his land and provided for the family. “Our situation here is terrible. There’s no education. My husband needs eye surgery that costs 1,000 USD. Where can we get that amount from?”reflects Mariam.
Despite the hardships, Mariam doesn’t want to lose hope or give up ‘for the children’s sake’. Her tent might be cold, and humidity might seep through its tarp walls, but it’s clean, tidy and has ornate drapes covering the flimsy walls. Surrounded by her pretty daughters, Mariam reminisces: “In Syria, I used to cook for them so many good things, like sweet rice and cream, and stuffed vegetables, then wait for their return from school.”
The mother who received an education back home now tries to teach her children, with the basics at hand: some paper, the occasional pencil. The little education she can pass on to them now, will pay off when they go back to Syria “one day”, she says.
Mariam’s story is echoed in most of the settlements in Lebanon, where women make up more than half of the 1.1 million registered refugees. And more than 65% of refugee children don’t go to school.
Approximately 12.2 million people are in need in Syria. Oxfam has reached over 1.5 million people affected by the Syria crisis, across Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Women and children have been particularly affected by the violence.
Syria Refugee Crisis: oxfam.ca/syria