Pim Ras / Save the Children

Dispatches from Za’atari as the world moves on: part 2

When I went back for the third time to the camp, I needed to check on Ferdous. I had forgotten which steel container she lived in, so we knocked on one of the doors. The woman who answered had black circles under her eyes. She looked tired and weary. We asked where the young girl with Leukaemia lived and she told us she was her mother. I didn’t recognize her. When I asked where Ferdous was, she said that she was at the clinic battling for her life, as the cancer had spread throughout her frail three-year-old body. Though Ferdous could be battling the same sickness even if she had lived a parallel life of luxury and freedom, I couldn’t help but think how that same girl, a world away, would not have to rely on donations to have a chance at life.

I hear more and more from donors and people in Lebanon or Jordan about the importance of focusing within Syria rather than outside it. But the world needs reminding that there are Syrian refugees who depend on aid to live any semblance of a normal life; people who are scared to go home and must now piece together their lives in a foreign place. While we do help refugees live day to day through our programmes in the camp, we complement that work with plenty of durable solutions that will help these refugees rebuild their countries and get back on their feet when they do go home – and that’s precisely what we try to relay to our partners about the camp every day.

One of the boys who used to attend our barbering livelihood sessions in the centre has been able to open up his very own barber shop in the camp, and was very proud to show us around. As I looked around his small makeshift barber store, two things struck me: the innovative way he assembled a store, made up of old cushions and held up by a pole stuck to a tire as a base; and Save the Children’s name. He was so grateful for the opportunities provided to him by Save the Children’s programmes that he took the liberty of drawing the logo and scribbling the name all over the walls of the barber shop. He now brings an income in for his family, and will be able to make a living if he ever returns to the broken Syria that no longer resembles the home he once knew.

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