In the lead up to World Refugee Day, World Vision Jordan Communicator, Elias Abu Ata, met with Qamar to hear her story.
Eight-year-old Qamar isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up. She’s trying to decide between becoming a doctor, so she can cure people who ask for her help, or a tailor, so she can sew dresses for her toys.
Her two older sisters, Nour and Zaynab, don’t like going to school any more, but Qamar still enjoys learning:
“I love to play in school and enjoy the breaks between classes. My favourite subjects are Arabic and maths. I am friends with Jordanians at school and there are two Syrians too. My wish is to obtain full marks and have my name written among the distinctive students.”
For the last two years Qamar’s family have been living in Jordan, after they escaped the fighting in Syria. Their first stop was Za’atari Refugee Camp, before moving on to two other houses, and finally settling in their current building, where six of them are trying to adjust to a new life.
Their house is quite dark, with no carpet and just a fan to keep them cool. There are two sofas in the lounge, and mattresses on the floor. Three months ago their landlord put the rent up without explaining why.
Right now, the only income the family has is from mumRajaa’s work, selling spinach and chopped mulukhiyah [a middle eastern vegetable]. She earns between three and five Jordanian Dinars (JODs) a day (between four and seven USD) – their rent is 160JODs a month, with electricity and water bills on top.
It’s also a struggle to put enough food on the table each day.
“Ever since the [food] voucher’s value decreased from 13 to 10 JODs [per month] only, my fridge no longer has much food inside. We only buy vegetables, our wish is to buy beef”, Rajaa said.
“We haven’t had chicken for two months and have never had beef [since we arrived]. We want to get full. Fruits and vegetables are all we see and have.”
The family also finds it difficult to get hold of the medicine they need. Rajaa’s husband, Fawaz, has diabetes, high blood pressure and a bad back, making it difficult for him to move.
In Syria, the family used to own a four bedroom house, but when it was hit by a mortar shell, trapping them inside, they realised it was time to leave.
“I was playing on a rocking chair when a sniper arrived in the area. There was a big hole in our house [caused by the fighting] which we escaped through.”
While Qamar is adjusting as best as possible to her new life, her 21-year-oldbrother, Mohamed, barely speaks. He suffers from a speech disorder and didn’t finishschool.
“The future of the children is lost, just like Mohamed’s, because he should have studied and worked, so he can eventually get married.
“As for the girls, I can arrange for them to get married. I just want their future to be better since they cannot do anything now.”
Rajaa’s family have been able to make basic improvements to their accommodation:
“We installed a new water tank after fixing it, so we can shower with hot water. But the ceiling leaks, so in the winter I clean it every night with a mop.”
No matter how comfortable they make their house though, it can never be home.
“My wish is to return back home. My wish for my children is to have us all gathered in our home country and be at our best,” says Rajaa.
Qamar, who was five when she left Syria, agrees:
“I prefer the old house because it is in my home country. When I was in Syria, I was never afraid of anything."
“I would love to live in Syria because it is different than Jordan. I miss the toys and the tablets [electronic devices used for web browsing and gaming]."
“I want to return to Syria once the war and shooting is over."
“If I have a magical pen, I want to draw a flower and a house in which my family lives."
“I would be happy if I stay here, but I will be happier if I stay in Homs.”
Since the fighting started in Syria more than four years ago, nearly four million people have fled to countries including Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. Meanwhile more than sevenmillion people remain displaced within Syria and 3 million in Iraq.
World Vision is responding to the Syrian crisis in Jordan, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Approximately two million refugees, internally displaced people and vulnerable host community members have been assisted through interventions including food, water, sanitation, health, child-friendly spaces and remedial education.