Quarterly highlights – Q1 2020April 17, 2020
A time to sewMay 11, 2020
I am from Raqaa, Syria, and I have two boys and four girls. Before the war, we had a big house and our situation was very good. When the war started, our house was destroyed and one of my sons disappeared. We never saw him again. After four years we received news that he had passed away. After moving several times within Syria, we finally came to Lebanon at the end of 2016.
Things were extremely difficult at first. We stayed in the house of my husband’s brother for a few days until I found a one-room house for me and all my children. Since my son passed away, and because my husband had a stroke, I was left without any support. Some days we could not even buy any food.
My sister in law told me about MERATH’s partner, so I went and people there started helping me with food vouchers. I was also able to enroll my daughter in the education center for literacy and computer classes. Although the neighborhood can be dangerous for girls, I know she is safe in the center, and in good hands. The teachers take very good care of her and treat her like their own daughter. And they treat me like a friend and a sister. If I need anything, I talk to them and they help me immediately. Without them, I don’t know what would have happened to me.
The biggest help was to be enrolled in the sewing training. I did not know anything about sewing before. I did not even know how to thread a needle. After the initial learning phase, we received several big orders from MERATH for thousands of winter blankets that were going to be distributed to vulnerable families in Lebanon. We were so excited! We used to come at 7 in the morning and stay late in the evening. If it wasn’t for the electricity being cut off at night, we would have kept working and working! With the money I earned from the winter blankets sewing, I was able to pay off all the debts I had accumulated since the death of my son.
But then came the financial crisis, and the coronavirus on top of it. It affected us all on an individual level, financially and emotionally. I am not afraid for myself, but for my family. Because I lost my son already, the idea of losing someone else due to this disease scares me. I am very protective of my children, trying to keep them at home and making sure they clean well. MERATH’s partner has helped me do that by giving us soap, hand sanitizer, and tissues. But at the end of the day, we are still seven people in a tiny home.
Before we were doing relatively fine, and managed to pay for our daily necessities, but now with the increase in prices we are not anymore. We haven’t paid our rent for the past three months and I am afraid our landlord will kick us out soon. Because of the crisis, I am now the only one earning money for the household.
This is why the mask sewing project is helping us so much! For starters, I am earning more money through it, which is much needed right now. But we are also aware that these masks will be distributed to families in need, and help protect them from the coronavirus and prevent the spread of the virus in the country. This makes us feel very thankful and proud.
I am just praying that the coronavirus goes away. When it does, hopefully things will be better and will go back to normal for me, my children, and all the ladies in the sewing group.
 Tahaddi Lebanon