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Lebanese4Refugees distribute aid to Syrians

January 27, 2015
A home for a Syrian family in an informal settlement in Al Marj, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

A home for a Syrian family in an informal settlement in Al Marj, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon.

In the wake of brutal weather in early January and winter storm “Zina,” that battered Lebanon, civil initiative Lebanese4Refugees arranged massive clothing and aid drives for Syrian refugees living in informal settlements. In order to allow people to see some of the aid actually being distributed, they organized a trip to Al Marj on January 13, in the Bekaa Valley, for anyone who wanted to come along to help. IMG_0229 Two vans full of Lebanese and expat volunteers bundled up for the long, cold ride down into the valley. In the informal camp in Al Marj, there are around 750 people living, more than half of them children. While waiting for the truck of aid to come, children swarmed around the volunteers and adults were eager to tell their story and voice their needs to anyone who would listen. Walking away from the crowd toward the families standing outside their homes, I was soon holding one-month old Najwa, then invited in her mother, Noura’s, home for coffee. IMG_0278 This family was more fortunate than many in the country, and even in the sprawling camp. They had a stove and an enclosed concrete room where the family of five slept – but they pay for it. $200 per month for the one room, a massive burden for any refugee family. Noura, whose husband is still in Aleppo, struggles to make ends meet with occasional house cleaning in the area. Despite their struggles, I have never met people more warm and generous than Syrian refugees, both in Jordan and Lebanon. IMG_0304 At first, aid distribution was chaotic, with volunteers throwing clothing off the truck into a crowd of people desperately jumping and fighting over items they wanted, and tossing unwanted clothing behind them and small children getting knocked over. In front of me, a little boy landed in a puddle of ice water and mud facedown. Another man fell into a baby carriage. Once this proved to not be working, they instead gave out the aid house to house, which worked much better, and was much more dignified for both the donors and those receiving it.

With the Syrian conflict going into its fourth year, new restrictions have been slapped on Syrians coming into Lebanon and the situation only gets more difficult for the more than one million refugees who are already here. Despite rising tensions between Syrian refugees and Lebanese people throughout Lebanon, it is good to see that there are also many Lebanese who are trying to help people in need in their country.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. gtabeek permalink
    January 27, 2015 5:29 pm

    That’s an incredible article….makes me intensely sad and my heart just drops looking at the picture of the baby….such shocking conditions…

    • January 28, 2015 11:17 am

      Thank you, Grace. It’s a difficult life for many people here, refugees and Lebanese alike, but particularly for those forced to live outside during the winter.

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