Syria crisis: One neighbourhood – stronger together

Mahmoud Shabeeb
Hanaa, a Lebanese woman who has welcomed refugees as friends

These are people who have lost everything and had to flee their country because of war. Isn’t all that enough? Shouldn’t we try to help them instead of adding to their misery?

These are the words of Hanaa, a Lebanese woman who has welcomed a Syrian refugee family into her community. Watch the video and find out more:

In our times, no one can handle the burden of others.

So says Taghreed, a Syrian refugee who fled with her children from their home near Homs, Syria, in 2012. “There was no work anymore. All resources were cut off. I had to run for my children, they are too young to handle these circumstances.”

Taghreed’s initial experience as a refugee in Lebanon was not a good one. She says:

Our previous landlord ... would come into our house and yell at me in front of my husband and children, belittling me, just because we are Syrian.

But now Taghreed has found renewed hope through her friendship with her new Lebanese landlord, Hanaa. Taghreed says:

Since the moment I met Hanaa I felt very relieved. I knew she was a good woman. We are like sisters now.

Hanaa says: “Sometimes I hear children on the street bullying Taghreed’s children, so I go out to defend them. I tell the children to go away and mind their own business.”

Both Hanaa and Taghreed are benefiting from a CARE Lebanon programme implemented through local partners, under a “One Neighbourhood” approach, which aims to build better cohesion between Syrian refugee and vulnerable Lebanese families through providing housing and bathroom rehabilitation, including new sinks, taps, water tanks, heaters, and more. Additionally, both Taghreed and Hanaa have attended sessions by CARE on early marriage and family planning.

“I have two adolescent daughters, one is 15 and one is 14, and both have been asked for marriage,” says Taghreed. “We are completely against the idea, and now thanks to the sessions I attended I have a strong argument and valid reasons as to why they should not get married at this age.”

They are still too young to understand what marriage is, they need to finish their education, this is the most important asset for them.

Aid organisations provide most of the family income, as there is little opportunity for refugees to find work. “My husband works sometimes but does not get paid because he’s a refugee. He can’t complain, but it leaves him feeling helpless and depressed,” says Taghreed.

“Apart from Hanaa, we face problems with the people here. But as people from another country, it is only normal that locals feel uncomfortable around us as this is their country that already has its share of problems.”

But I try to treat them nicely so that they return the same gesture, and that often works well.

Mahmoud Shabeeb's picture

Mahmoud Shabeeb is Regional Communications Officer for CARE's Syria Response