For Awash, the hardest part of being a refugee is not having a home. In Aleppo, Syria, her hometown, she lived in a house on a farm. That house is gone - bombed, destroyed - along with her village. Now, she lives in a tent. Grocery bags hang from the walls. Awash lives with her husband in an informal refugee settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley.
Amidst the chaos of recent years, the sixty-four year old grandmother does not even know how many grandchildren she has.
A mother of 6 sons and 7 daughters, Awash and her children now live in different corners of the world. Two of her daughters live in Lebanon but the other five are still in Syria because their husbands didn’t want to leave. These daughters witnessed the recent battle in Aleppo. Awash, concerned like any mother would be, said, “I am really worried about them.”
Awash crossed the border into Lebanon by herself but now lives with her husband and two of her sons in the informal refugee settlement. Of her other sons, two are in Turkey, and one lives in Norway. Another is still in Syria.
Her large family is scattered in so many different places - most in transition, some in danger.
One of her sons teaches at the informal school that his children attend in their settlement in Lebanon. The cost of living is high in the settlement, making it difficult for him to raise his family. Another son works in the field. Awash and her husband do not work and recently lost their food vouchers. Although they are safe, life is not easy.
One of Awash’s sons has become a Refugee Outreach Volunteer with Medical Teams International. As a Volunteer, he connects community members with Primary Health Clinics and monitors their health at home. He has one very special community member whose health he monitors regularly - his diabetic mother, Awash.
Awash has had diabetes for 10 years. Thankfully, her son can buy her insulin. And now, as part of his training and responsibilities as a Refugee Outreach Volunteer, he is able to measure her blood sugar every 20 days - or more often if she isn’t feeling well. She is lucky that her husband is healthy, but another of her sons is also diabetic. Life is difficult for them.
Thanks to your support, Medical Teams International is in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, caring for Syrian refugees by creating a sustainable health system. A network of 500 Refugee Outreach Volunteers have been trained in 100 informal settlements like the one Awash and her family live in.
It’s hard to imagine how Awash must feel.
However, she is still hopeful that one day she will go back to Syria. After all, that’s truly home. Far from home, and from most of her children, she is realistic and grateful for what she has. Of her current home she says, “The best part of living here is that there is no fear.”