Today • • 24 February

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Big Dreams, Small Chances

Life as a refugee in Aarsal, Bekaa Valley

LEBANON – On our mission trip to Lebanon in December 2022, we visited many camps in Aarsal, Bekaa Valley; home to more than 80,000 Syrian refugees and about 100 refugee camps.

As our bus drove into the small town, camps took up most of our surroundings. In Aarsal, not only the refugees live in poverty, but also its own Lebanese citizens. 

Despite the weather, refugee children waved hello to our team of staff and volunteers with the biggest smiles you could imagine. It was in these camps that we heard some of the most inspiring – and heartbreaking – aspirations. With so little, these refugee men, women and children might never be able to achieve their potential in life.

In camp Al-Khalil, we met Mr Ahmed, a Syrian refugee with a future that could have provided adequately for his little family of four. Back in Syria, Ahmed was an English teacher, but like millions of his countrymen, he was forced to flee and make a life in a Lebanese refugee camp. It’s been 7 years since he left, but he remains an inspiration to the children in the camp as an English teacher. To that aspect, the children in this camp are lucky to have him.

In another camp, Noor, our team was distributing diesel and shelter kits to families there when we had the chance to meet Ms Fatima, a 25-year-old widow of two young children. As a refugee from Homs, Syria, Ms Fatima was incredibly lucky to have completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Arabic from a local university. She even has plans to open a madrasah in the camp to teach the children basic English and Arabic, because she believes that education is the key to a better life.

In the last camp we visited in Aarsal, we met a stunning young woman, Ms Shoukr. At just 23 years old, Shoukr is a professionally trained hairdresser who runs her own salon in the camp – the work of two volunteers working to provide training for refugee women so they can earn a living. 

Although the place is quaint, it is a feat for her as she has gained the independence to earn a small income to support her children and herself. Shoukr is now training and inspiring other women in her camp with new skills, Alhamdulillah.

Listening to the hopes and dreams of these refugees have opened our minds and hearts to the struggles and hardships they have been facing for the past 11 years. Education is inaccessible for most refugee children, and seeking employment is a wearying task without documentation and citizenship.

Continue supporting refugees in Asia, Africa and the Middle East by contributing towards our Care for Refugees projects. 

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