For the first time in 10 years, I feel productive
Over a decade of war in Syria did not only destroy homes but also built millions of stories of shattered dreams. Nonetheless, hope and resilience will ultimately prevail and light will shine regardless of how dark it can get. Don’t take these cliché words for it, rather Imad’s sanguine story.
In the fifth month of 2013, Imad’s life drastically changed forever. War in Syria was at its apogee – In the hope to be one step ahead of conflict, Imad and his family were constantly on the move looking for safety. Alas, their luck ran out on a gloomy day; a bomb hits their shelter leaving under its dust a tragedy – Imad lost two brothers, in addition to his mobility due to an injury in his neck. “That day changed my life permanently. There are no words to describe this awful day,” reveals Imad with tears in his eyes.
After the tragic event, Imad decided to leave his homeland looking for a more stable life in neighbouring Lebanon. “It was a difficult journey (going to Lebanon). It took us three months to move from one city to another. Being paralysed did not help at all,” he says. “I used to be a very active person; I worked in construction and relied on myself. I couldn’t grasp that I need to rely on others from now on.”
Against all odds, Imad kept his will strong and never let his disability stand in his path. “I got married and tried to build a new life in Lebanon. However, things turned around again in the past three years due to the economic crisis and COVID,” he reveals. “Sometimes I feel the economic crisis is more difficult than war. I am not able to pay rent nor buy medicine especially since I stopped receiving financial support from organisations.”
Presently, Imad is taking part in the Cash for Work project funded by the “German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development” implemented by GIZ in partnership with World Vision in cooperation with the Ministry of Social Affairs and local steering committees. “I was lucky enough to take part in this project especially since it takes into consideration people with disability. For the First time in 10 years, I feel productive. I am distributing the meals for workers, and taking the attendance of the workers.”
“In addition to feeling productive and meeting new friends on site, I am now relieved that I can cover four months of rent thanks to the payments I am receiving,” says thirty-two-year-old Imad. “I hope one day I can open a small street shop and sell anything so I can solely rely on myself rather than on anyone else.”
The cash-for-work project in Koura and Zgharta in the north of Lebanon aims to support the most vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugees affected by the economic crisis and COVID by providing work opportunities such as rehabilitation of public courts, gardens and infrastructure.
In an effort to incorporate everyone, this project is also gender inclusive. Women are proving that they are also capable of doing whatever it takes to support their families. “I live with my parents and younger brother. I am the sole provider for the household since all my family membershave health issues that stand in their way of work. The responsibility is big but I have the will to fight for it. I will do whatever it takes to provide for my family,” says Thirty-year-old Mariam. “I believe every woman has unexplored potential and that there is nothing we are not able to achieve.”
The unemployment rate in Lebanon stood at around 30% indicating that almost one-third of the labour force was unemployed in January 2022. “I studied health inspection but due to limited work opportunities, I was not able to find anything in my domain. This project couldn’t have arrived at a better time. I can buy medicine for my parents and food for the household. In addition, I met new friends and learned new skills,” Says Mariam. “I call all women to stand strong in face of this passing crisis and do whatever it takes for their families because hopefully one day everything will get better.”
In the hope to alleviate the stress of the economic crisis in the country, this project aims to support 800 vulnerable Lebanese and Syrian refugees like Imad and Mariam with cash for work opportunities.