REPORT – Mother’s Day forgotten as Syrian women struggle to live in Lebanon’s refugee camp

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SHAFAQNA – Sunday marks worldwide celebrations of Mother’s Day, except for Syrian mothers who fled their homes and are taking shelters in Lebanon.

Robbed of the happiness to celebrate their own holiday, many of them are still trying to cope with the pain of losing their kids, husbands, brothers, sisters or other family members, not knowing whether there would be a future from them.

In a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon’s western Bekaa vally, single moms are fighting hard to sustain their already harsh lives, and feed their children, whose fathers died during the four-year old civil war in Syria. To them, the holiday means nothing more than another bone-weary day.

Hamida al-Ali used to live in the Syrian capital Damascus. In her makeshift house in the camp, she was busy preparing lunch for the eight members of her family on a small stove of firewood.

Aid agencies are the key source of food, spaghetti or rice most of the time, for her family despite the fact that they have seen their food quotas shrinking day in and day out.

She told Xinhua that she feared one day these food aids would simply stop.

Salwa al-Hamidi’s home in the Syrian town of Beit-Jin was totally damaged so she fled her country and came to stay in the camp in Lebanon.

However, life here in the camp is almost as tough as it was back in Syria. She said the housewives are struggling with the harsh living conditions every day.

While food is barely enough, she said, adding that it is also quite difficult to guarantee health-care and other kinds of aids.

Two years ago, Habiba al-Houeiki, a mother of six, lost her husband in battles that devastated the Syrian city of Aleppo.

“I am finding it very hard to provide our daily food particularly that we are competing with our Lebanese hosts in the work market,” she said.

“We find a job for one day and the next we are jobless. The aid is shrinking day by day and we do not know what is waiting for us even in the nearest future,” she added.

Jamila al-Jaamal is also one of the bitterly struggling mothers in the refugee camps. She said she would have to leave her little ones alone since the early morning hours to go and work as a housemaid in the nearby houses.

She said she could once earn 3.2 U.S. dollars per hour months ago by cleaning houses, and work usually five to seven hours a day.

“That was nearly enough but since the number of housemaids suddenly increased, the wages suddenly dropped to two dollars,” she said.

So she has to go around and ask other housewives if they can give her the leftovers.

According to the United Nations Higher Commission for refugees (UNHCR), Lebanon hosts 1.2 million Syrian refugees. And among every five refugees, four are women and children.

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