My name is Rabih, I am from Aleppo in Syria. My family and I have been living as refugees in Lebanon for years. Living here is very difficult. I struggle to secure rent and to buy food and water. I am the only one in the family who works and I have seven children to provide for: two daughters and five sons. My oldest son, who is 18, has a mental disability and treating him is very costly. I wish I could give more to my family, but work is scarce, especially in the winter, and we have limited resources. We live day by day and we sometimes have to go into debt. I believe my children are affected by our situation. They can notice the difference between them and the Lebanese children. They do not express much, because they understand that we cannot afford the things that the other children have, and they don’t want to complain.
I know that this country can no longer handle us refugees. Imagine 15 people coming inside a room that can only fit five persons. I believe that the refugee crisis has worsened the economic crisis, and the other way around. After 10 years, I have become an unwelcome guest. If I make any money, I feel that a Lebanese person is more deserving of it.
This is why I want to travel abroad, but not to Syria. Our country is war-torn and destroyed and I do not have hope things will get better any time soon. There is nothing left of the Syria I used to love. There is nothing left to miss. If I go back now, I have nothing. My house there is in complete ruins. Even my two older boys do not remember anything about their home country.
My two older boys could not get educated. They are 16 and 18 now and so they missed their chance. But my three younger kids are enrolled in the church’s learning center, that we got to know by chance. We are welcomed with open arms here. I thank God for the people in the center.
My children have been enrolled for a few months only, but I am already impressed. They seem very happy and even their behavior has improved. I notice their excitement when they rush outside to catch the school bus. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic, I feel that the center is a safe place. They are working really hard and they take all the required precautions such as wearing/giving out masks, sanitizing hands and surfaces, etc. They take care of our children as if they were their own. The teachers here tell me that my daughter is very smart, so I want to keep on educating her. I am happy that my children are finally learning properly, and I am very proud of them.
Despite all the challenges, I thank Jesus for everything. My faith helps me to be patient during these difficult times. He is the one who gives me the emotional support I need. I trust Him and I have hope in the future – in what may come.