Instead of holding pencils, children make toy guns

Ayham and his five children

Ayham's wife was killed back in Syria. "Six months ago military aircrafts bombed our house in Homs while we were inside it," says Ayham. "We fled to a safer neighbourhood nearby. A few days later, fighting started there as well and my wife was hit in the head by some shrapnel. She passed away two days later."

Ayham is now taking care of five of his six children. His eldest daughter, 16 years old, got married in Lebanon. "She lives in walking distance from here," says Ayham. "I visit her regularly. Her husband's family is treating her well and he is a decent man."

Ayham does not want to send his 13-year-old son to school. "My son should learn a vocation that will help him find work," says Ayham. "He was not very good at school. Now with all what he has seen he is not in a good state of mind to study.

"He is very active and he can do many things, but he cannot concentrate long enough to study and learn. All my children have been affected by what they saw. Instead of holding pencils they now craft shotguns out of wooden pieces."

My wife meant everything to me

Ayham wishes things would be different, but life is no longer as it used to be since his wife passed away.

"I used to work as a butcher and I had my own butchery. When my wife died I could no longer work because I could not leave my children alone at home.

"My wife was very beautiful, she was tall and she had a pretty face. The mother is the centrepiece of every family. She meant everything to my children and me. How can I be the father and the mother at the same time?"

While he was telling us his story, Ayham paused for a minute and looked at his two-year-old son, Yassine, who was looking at us and laughing. "I wish to die," continues Ayham. "Had it not been for my children I would not have wanted to live one more day."

Three of my children were wounded in the war

A week ago, CARE assisted Ayham with emergency cash assistance. "I heard about CARE from a Syrian person who had previously received assistance," says Ayham. "After registering my name they visited me to see my living conditions and helped me. This is the only assistance I receive apart from support from the UN."

Ayham struggles to find a job. "Sometimes I work in construction and I take Yassine with me because he is too young to stay home with his siblings. I buy him a snack and keep my eyes on him," says Ayham.

"But my work is not stable. Three of my children were wounded in the war and I cannot afford the treatment they need. Yassine always complains that he is hungry because he does not understand his other needs yet. His siblings always ask me for clothes, which I cannot afford either."

Ayham already spent the £104 he received from CARE. "I used the money that CARE gave me to pay my debts and cover our most urgent needs like food and drinking water," explains Ayham.

I share the same dream as every Syrian I know: I want to return home. But if the war continues we need more help to survive.

"Surrounding countries like Lebanon can bear our burden to a certain limit, but not forever. They need help to keep helping us."

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.