Tuesday, 26 January 2016

In the camps

So, even given the language difficulty it's difficult to know what to say to a woman with breast cancer . Looking after her 3 kids after fleeing Syria as her husband had been shot in the street in Homs. And she has no money to pay for the treatment that would save her.

I'm in Lebanon as a guest of the Muslim charity forum and travelling with the CEOs of Islamic Relief and Human Appeal as well as the director of the Forum. We have been visiting the Syrian refugee camps in the Beeka valley where I met this lady and her family. We met with other families. You can see the mother of the family of 6 kids. Her eldest son is only 13 and he goes out to work to support them. One of the kids has epilepsy. And the other lady with her 2 grandchildren is supporting them as they have HepB and their mother is out at work as a housemaid to support their treatments.

Many of the kids in the camp have health problems. Many do not go to school and so many cannot read or write. They have been in the camps  for 3 or 4 years and still no end in sight. This is desperate and hearing the tales of the atrocities and the suffering brings home to you why so many have fled the war in their country.

The only support they get is from charities and international agencies. It's basic. It's not on a sustainable basis. And the winter is harsh and bitter when you live in a tent. It's remarkable how clean and tidy they are kept though when you can't afford money for fuel.  Or you make choices between eating and heating; it's a cruel life. 


But you can see at least I got stuck in with helping distribute aid for Human Appeal.  The aid convoy had brought bottles of fuel, blankets and mattresses.  We were welcome. 

I'm here in Lebanon with representatives of the Muslim Charity Forum, including the CEOs of Islamic relief and Human Appeal as well as the local NGOs.  We spent today visiting some of the camps in the Beeka valley, just across from the border. The camps vary in their organisation and management from those lucky enough to be in a camp with its own school to much smaller camps like the one we went to with just 15 families who have been here for 3 or 4 years and fled atrocities that these kids will never forget. Many of the kids don't go to school. 
In one family we visited the mother and her 6 younger kids are supported by the eldest son of 13 who goes out to work. Most of the families have health problems. One lady and her family  I met all had heb b and the mother, despite the illness goes out to work to try and pay for treatment;  there is no NHS out here and it's what you can afford. And when you don't have money, you don't get treatment.
The winters a fierce here.  We drove across the mountains to get to the camps.  The show is over 2 feet on the mountains and it is bitter in the valley, minus 7/8 at night.  You need fuel to warm the tents.  That costs and so sometimes there is no heat at all.  Just a flimsy tent to keep out the harsh and deadly weather. 
But we did not go empty handed.  We were with a lorry convoy that brought mattresses, bottles of fuel and blankets.
And obviously yours truly got stuck in.  Who said ACEVO doesn't work at the front line!


1 comment:

Mac Haik said...


It is Very good article and interesting blog,

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