Roula says "Thank you Lebanon"

Thursday 20 March 2014

Roula, a 19 year old mother of two children left Syria seven months ago. While pregnant with her second child, she signed up for a Save the Children life skills training as a community project which targeted both Lebanese and Syrian youth. As part of Save the Children’s integrated youth approach, the Food Security and Livelihoods sector ran the initiative, with support from the Child Protection team to help foster social cohesion and build relationships between the Syrian refugee community and the Lebanese host community. For three months, the youth received life skills training, and training in community research skills, project planning and budgeting, before designing and implementing their own project to meet an identified need in the community. Their community project focused on conservation; they planted more than two hundred and fifty trees in the town where they now live as refugees as a thank you to the Lebanese municipality and host community for their generosity in welcoming the refugee population into Lebanon.

Roula’s story in her own words.

"We left Syria a year ago when our town was invaded and lots of people were killed because of the heavy shelling and violence. I left with my two year old son and my husband. We arrived in Lebanon without any clue where to go or what to do. My husband worked as a mechanic in Syria and he started looking for a job since the first day we arrived but it wasn’t easy at all. We both tried our best to find any job we could to pay the rent, but the only work he found was as a daily labourer and that was not enough to pay the rent.

We were relying on the UNHCR assistance and the generosity of the locals, but it was very painful for us to be relying on others when we are able to work and used to relying on ourselves. When I heard about the workshop I was in my eighth month of pregnancy but that didn’t stop me from registering my name and hoping to be part of it. It was a great opportunity to meet other people like us and to get to know the host community. Youth from different backgrounds were involved in this training and that was a very good chance for me to make new friends from Lebanon.

When I got the first two hundred dollars I was about to give birth so I used the money to pay the hospital fees and then I used the second payment to renew my visa and now I will get the third and last payment to pay the house rent for this month. It really helped a lot and the most important thing is that I worked to get this money and it wasn’t just a donation. I really feel humiliated when I take money from others. We are not used to doing so; we are used to working and living on what we get. It is so painful when you have no choice but to accept people’s donations to feed your children.

The workshop was really wonderful; lots of useful information and lessons. For example, we have learned how to control our anger and how to be team players. I believe that these kind of workshops can change our destiny; we are ready to work and give our best. I worked when I was pregnant and now here I am planting trees and my baby is just two months old. He is at home with my husband; we just need a little help and then we will be able to rely on ourselves.

Planting the trees in this town was a brilliant idea; it is just a small gesture to show the locals that we do own you a lot. We want to thank them for everything they did to us and for all the stress we brought to them as refugees in their hometown."

 Ahmad Baroudi/ Save the Children