giving hope to people broken by war
Volunteer Fatima helps to distribute aid to fellow refugees in Jordan ‘with love and a smile’. She’s determined to help others regain the dignity she lost on the dangerous and traumatic journey from Syria.
Fatima is a proud and strong woman, but she will never forget the humiliation and powerlessness she felt when she first became a refugee.
Richard Wainwright/Act for Peace
Fatima and her young sons had already driven for days to reach the safety of Jordan from their home in Halib, Syria. But when they arrived, after being forced to sit in the dust for hours, they were locked behind wire fences in a camp. “I remember the happy moments in my life before the war,” she says sadly. “When I was preparing my son for his wedding, and crying tears of joy. Or the moment when my twins were born. I’d always wanted twins. I remember the little things too - like cooking stuffed grape leaves for my kids, or drinking coffee with my neighbours.” “When the war started, the Syrian army wanted to take my son, and force him to kill fellow Syrians. The army knew we’d refused for our son to be conscripted, so we hadto leave Syria,” she explains. “We couldn’t get passports, so we had to pay to be smuggled out. It was a very hard journey. The smugglers drove us in pickup trucks across the desert, and they drugged the children at night so they wouldn’t make any noise and get us discovered.”
Fatima is now living in Jordan with six of her children. She says that with more and more Syrian refugees arriving every day, life is hard and expensive. “We mainly depend on coupons and packages distributed by NGOs. They’re getting fewer all the time. So we are trying to adapt. We no longer have breakfast, the children just have milk.” she says. “I never thought this would happen to Syrian people who were living in prosperity and dignity.”
To add to her day-to-day struggles, Fatima has the same worry as many other Syrians who have fled to Jordan - are her relatives back at home safe? “One day my phone rang and I thought it was my son back home in Syria. But it was a soldier from ISIS. He said my son had been arrested. I stayed up all night crying and praying for him. Then the prison he was held in was bombed. I started to go crazy with worry, but he was one of only 11 out of 150 that survived. Eventually they set him free. Now he’s married, with a baby!” she smiles.Despite all she has been through, Fatima remains positive and is determined to help her fellow refugees. “If you can’t help people at least help them with your smile,” she says.
Thanks to Act for Peace supporters like you, Fatima has been trained as a volunteer to help with food distribution and educate others on how to distribute aid safely and fairly. She’s determined to help other refugees retain the dignity she lost on the long
journey into Jordan. “I remembered the humiliation of the way some people used to distribute the food parcels, yelling and treating people badly. I was determined to change it,” she says defiantly. “People who come here are already shy and broken on the inside,” says Fatima. “We should not add to this. I’ve made big changes to help people keep their dignity. I want to distribute packages with love and a smile,” she adds, her tired face breaking out into a huge smile.
Fatima is grateful to the people in Australia who helped to train her and the other volunteers she works with. “I thank the Australian people and I am always praying for them because they gave myself and all Syrians great hope,” she says. “We will always pray for you and for your country to never suffer what we have suffered from.”
Your can help more families like Fatima's!
After nearly five years of conflict, innocent Syrian families need your help more than ever. Thousands of people continue to flee Syria every day to protect their families from bloodshed, violence and death. As more and more refugees leave Syria, conditions in overcrowded neighbouring countries are getting worse. Families like Fatima’s are missing out on basic living essentials like food, shelter, hygiene and health supplies. Your gifts and support have made a huge difference to Syrian refugees in the last three years. Thank you. But the need is still great. By giving to the Syria Crisis appeal today you will be providing desperately needed relief packs to people who have lost everything.
To help give here or FREECALL 1800 025 101 Thank you!
More ways to take action
Bloody conflicts across Africa have forced millions of women and children from their homes. Help them get the medical care and support they need to survive.
Cyclone Gita has devastated Tongan communities, destroying everything in its path. Please help provide the emergency shelter, food and clean water they desperately need.
Take the Act for Peace Ration Challenge during Refugee Week (June 2018) to raise money in support of refugees who have lost everything, and challenge perspectives – including your own.