Winter for Syrian refugees: ‘I do not want to die yet’

One of Leila's grandchildren

In the northern Jordanian city Irbid, live Leila* and her grandchildren. They fled their home in Daraa, Syria more than two years ago when the heavy bombing of their neighbourhood was too much to bear. This is Leila's story, in her own words:

We survived death. Everyone who made it was meant to live longer so what is happening to us now does not make sense. My son was shot dead outside our house in Daraa. A few months later, during Ramadan, his wife was shot at home while our family was breaking our fast. They actually shot her over the table while we were eating. She died immediately, leaving six orphan children behind, whom I now look after.

When we arrived we had nothing

We've been living in the same apartment since we fled to Jordan. The walls are covered with mould and there is no heating.

Despite this, the people in this neighbourhood are good, they have been very generous to us.

When we first got here we slept on the floor. For a month we had nothing at all. People helped us with the little furniture we have, little by little. But we do not have a heater and this will be the third winter that we spend here.

Every year when the weather starts to get cold we just cover ourselves with blankets and sleep. It's all we can do. I suffer from diabetes and high blood pressure but we cannot afford medication.

It is getting very cold these days and I am worried. Every time I feel cold, I start feeling aches all over my body.

I think to myself: 'I do not want to die yet, I want to die in Syria.'

We've lost our only source of food

Last month, I heard that the UN was suspending food voucher distributions to refugees like us. Like many others, this is our only source of food, we have been completely dependent on these vouchers to survive.

What shall we do if we do not receive them anymore? Die of hunger?

Then we might as well just go back to Syria and die there with dignity. To me, it would not make a difference to die of hunger or under bombardment; so at least we should die in our homeland.

I heard about CARE from our Syrian neighbours who have received help from them so I registered with them as well. I have so far received mattresses and I am now waiting to receive a payment to help my grandchildren.

One of my grandchildren, Mariam, is in the fifth grade. She goes to school without money to buy herself something to eat during breaks. She says to me: 'I see the other girls buying food and drinks from around the school but I cannot afford that.'

With this help, we will get by, God willing, but right now my biggest and only wish is to go back to Syria. This is all I ever wish for.

*All names have been changed

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