“In Syria we were happy,” shares Fatima, smiling as she remembers her once peaceful homeland. “Oh yes, we were, and comfortable, too.”

Brutal violence forced Fatima to flee Syria in 2013. She now lives with relatives in a rented room in Lebanon. Because of the war, her three brothers are missing.

Though Fatima is now safe, she feels sad and empty away from home. She misses her life in Syria—especially her job. All Fatima wants to do is go back to being a teacher.

She covers her face with her hands. “Now I can’t do anything.”

Mousa and his daughter Rihan Photo: Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Mousa and his daughter Rihan. Photo: Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Mousa, a neighbour, is facing similar challenges.

Back home, Mousa bought and sold livestock. “I had a good life,” he says. “In Syria, I could do anything.”

Now in Lebanon, the father of four is not allowed to have a job because of restrictions placed on Syrian refugees by the Lebanese government.

To get by, Mousa picks fruit for local farmers. The farmers aren’t allowed to employ him, but know that Syrians will work for cheap. Mousa earns $8 a day—significantly less than what the Lebanese can make.

Mousa doesn’t like being taken advantage of. But in his position, he has no other choice.

Meeting Food Needs

Unable to find secure employment, Fatima and Mousa worried about meeting their basic needs. Fortunately, a PWS&D-supported project with Canadian Foodgrains Bank is helping them get enough food. The project is providing food vouchers for refugees so they can purchase groceries while saving money for rent and other expenses.

“We are very dependent on the vouchers,” shares Mousa.

“Yes, yes, yes,” Fatima echoes quietly.

While Fatima and Mousa miss the comforts of home—their families, jobs, routines—with this assistance, they are surviving. In this time of great uncertainty, knowing they can save money for rent and enjoy a warm dinner is a source of comfort and strength.

“Thank you for helping us,” says Fatima to visitors from Canada. “The vouchers help me survive.”

*Adapted from a story by John Longhurst on the Canadian Foodgrains Bank website.