I heard something last week that I really didn’t expect, “This place is heaven.” I was talking with Miriam, a Syrian refugee, in one of the more crowded tents that I’d seen.
It was no bigger than a small bedroom and the 10 women and children inside all called it home.
They are some of the 1.4 million Syrians who have fled to neighbouring countries seeking peace and safety.This existence didn’t seem easy or comfortable to me, but Miram described it as paradise. “If you saw where we were sleeping in Syria, this is heaven,” she said, describing their nights sleeping on streets or in fields, fearful for their safety.
Miriam and the three grandchildren she brought with her have only been living in this settlement in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley for a few days. They have not yet registered for the refugee status that should help them get access to food and other basics necessities.
For now, Miriam and her grandchildren are surviving thanks to the generosity of others. Sharing what they can, women from other tents have been bringing them water and bowls of rice. It’s a small comfort in a world where they’ve had to leave everything behind.
At just nine months old, Miriam’s grandson, Louay, has already suffered an irreparable, unthinkable loss as a result of the Syrian conflict.
Just an hour after he was born, Louay’s mother, Sabria, passed away. She had complications during Louay’s birth but due to active shelling outside, her family couldn’t take her to a hospital. She was mostly unconscious the hour before she died, so it’s uncertain whether she got to see her beautiful baby boy – but the family ensured Louay was named according to Sabria’s wishes.
Like many other husbands, brothers and sons I’ve heard about, Louay’s father is also missing, leaving Louay’s care in the hands of his grandmother.
Miram looks after Louay, now nine months old, as best as she can, but admits that at 64 she finds it difficult to run around after him. Perhaps more daunting are the challenges of providing him with food, shelter, healthcare and education as he grows up.
She pointed to the sore on Louay’s round face. She wasn’t sure what it was as they haven’t been able to see a doctor during the last four months. But she is concerned as Louay hasn’t received any of the vaccinations that a child his age would normally have had.
World Vision and other organisations are working in the Bekaa Valley to provide refugees with the basics: food, clean water, toilets, as well as safe spaces and educational opportunities for children. The needs continue to grow as new families arrive in the area every day.
With no end in sight for the Syrian conflict, the future for refugees like Louay and Miram is uncertain. Like most mothers, she is concerned more about the others in her care than herself. “If I die, I hope that God will protect my children,” she told us.
It’s so easy for us to become disconnected from the fight that refugees all over the world face every single day, so we want to thank Joy for taking the time to send us this story to share with you all. And what an inspirational woman Miriam is.
If you’d like to help the Syrian refugees you can donate to our Syria Refugee Crisis Appeal here.
If you liked this article, don't be shy and please share it with your friends and family: