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“Our former life was gone”


December 22, 2016 • 2 min read

“We want to be free from having to collect rubbish to survive.”


"This family had to flee their home to survive. All they wish is to be free from shelling, airstrikes, displacement, camps and tents."

Syrian Abu Ahmad is displaced from his southern home, and now living in northern Syria. Home for him and his family of 10 children, two females and eight males of varying ages, and his two young grandchildren is nowadays a small tent in a settlement for displaced people. Recently the tent became more crowded still, when the family was joined by another daughter who has become separated from her husband.
While he and his family were preparing to leave their home village, Abu Ahmad’s 28-year-old nephew, along with many other local people including the nephew’s mother-in-law, was killed by shelling, “I buried my nephew with my bare hands. Everyone’s house was totally destroyed, and the entire village is now gone.”
Before the conflict in Syria, Abu Ahmad and his family farmed cotton and wheat until they had to flee constant shelling in their region. Initially they displaced to Turkey and settled in a refugee camp at Urfa. “Life was terribly hard in the refugee camp,” explains Abu Ahmad, “I couldn’t cope with the life or the food, and I almost died due to lack of nutrition. Winter storms were very terrible and the tents used to break every now and then. We couldn’t stand the situation so we moved back to Syria.””Now, in wintertime, it is really cold and we have nothing for warmth.”
“Our former life as farmers was gone, so I and my children had to resort to searching rubbish dumps and dumpsters, collecting everything capable of being recycled. It was a very hard way to try and earn a living, but we had no other choice, it was either that or starve. One time, my son was in a dumpster when he has hit by a very high electric charge from a loose overhead cable. He was hospitalised to Turkey for many weeks, before being able to come back to Syria.”
Abu Hamad and the family have now been living at the settlement for more than three weeks: “The situation here is very bad. Now, in wintertime, it is really cold and we have nothing for warmth. We cover ourselves with blankets and sometimes burn trash for heating. There were floods recently, and most tents broke due to the storms. We tried to mend them with nylon bags and sheets, or any other material we could find. People were as good as dead, until GOAL arrived just in time. GOAL’s response was very fast; they gave us Emergency Kits, which included blankets, hygiene materials, and some household utensils. Still we need more, in relation to the tents and heating.”
“I pray for things to settle down in my country, so me and my family can go back to our houses and live in peace. We want to be free from shelling, airstrikes, displacement, camps and tents. We want to work properly again, to provide for our families, instead of having to collect rubbish to survive.”