For many Syrians like Jalila and her husband Mohammad, who become displaced by war, loss starts gradually.
First, their friends began to leave the city, fleeing with their children to somewhere safer. Next, the neighborhood school shut down, because of bombings and mortar fire. Jalila began educating her children at home—she was adamant that they wouldn’t lose their education to violence.
“I think education is the most valuable thing in the world,” Jalila told us. “I insisted to continue to teach my children, even during the hardest days that passed. I always believed that things would settle down at some point in time, and I did not want war to stand in the way of my children’s future.”
They were getting by at home, but they were terribly lonely. Used to tight-knit community and rich friendships, the violence of war reduced their lives to the outer walls of their home. And then bombs took that too.
Their family fled ISIS and started to rent another place in a safer part of Syria. Once they found refuge, Jalila didn’t have to worry so much about bombs, but instead of feeling secure, her worries shifted.
“This rent [takes] all my husband’s wage, and therefore my children are deprived of many things.”
They owned the home they fled. The money that Jalila earned helping children with special needs and her husband earned teaching biology, covered all of their daily needs and allowed them to make a good life for their children. They could buy nutritious food to make filling meals, clothes appropriate for the seasons, and sweets when the kids pleaded for treats. But there isn’t enough money left after paying rent for those things now.
Jalila never stopped thinking about her home.
“We want to move back home as soon as possible, to be able to save the money we are paying for rent, and spend this money on more important things for our children.” Jalila’s hometown is safe now, but her home wasn’t. As with so many other homes in her neighborhood, bombs and bullets destroyed doors and windows. Then all the inside fixtures—taps, electrical wiring and outlets, interior doors—were stolen.
Without the ability to secure their home–to close doors and windows and lock them tight–there was no way Jalila could move back. Instead their family was stuck in a cycle of poverty created by violence.
You brought the kind of love that unmakes violence, that disrupts cycles.
As Syrian territory comes out from under the shadow of war, you are showing up to stand with those whose lives have been upside down. In some areas you are restarting farms. In some areas you are helping residents to grow mushrooms. And in other places, like Jalila’s neighborhood, you are renovating homes damaged by war so families can move back and start to rebuild their lives.
We captured the moment when Jalila and two of her children stood just inside the new front door of their home. A new electrical panel was installed to manage the new wiring, and to make sure their home is safe from fires. In other rooms, bathroom and kitchen taps were installed, replacing those that were stolen.
This is what you make possible for Jalila’s family.
“We want to build ourselves a decent life again.”
There is still much to do—cleaning and decorating. But Jalila can finally make plans to move home—out of their temporary lives while displaced by war.