Every week, I travel about an hour north from Amman to Mafraq, near the border with Syria, with our project assistant Ala’a Issa to see how supply distributions and home rehabilitations are going for Syrian refugees. Each day, we meet Syrian families who have lived through tragedy that no one should have to, and they persevere.
Along with our local partner organization Christian and Missionary Alliance Church (CMAC), which handles the distribution of blankets, mattresses, heaters and jackets, we visited with the extended Al Hussein family. Mohamed and Majedah left Syria early last fall with their two daughters, three sons, two daughters-in-law and three granddaughters.
Carrying wounds of war
The Al Hussein’s 23-year-old daughter-in-law Amal Ali is originally from Aleppo, where her family is still residing. She misses them dearly and hopes to return to Syria soon to see them. When Ala’a asked her how many children she has, she responded with remarkable fortitude: “None, my children are all dead.”
Her twin toddlers, Ahmed and Amed, were killed during a bombing that flattened their family home in Dara’a last September. Ala’a and I could see that she didn’t want to talk about the tragedy, so we didn’t press the topic further after she solemnly said, “Thank God we are safe.”
Amal Ali’s four-year-old niece, Abeer, is still shell-shocked from the relentless bombings in Dara’a and has barely spoken in over seven months. I watched with concern as the little girl curled up in a ball on a floor mattress when she thought she heard a plane. Her grandmother, Majedah, told me, “Until now, Abeer doesn’t feel safe and secure.”
Finding safety in Jordan
Late last September, after their devastating loss, the family took their three children under five and walked in fear for over two hours to reach the Jordanian border.
The family of 12 now lives in a sparse two-room home that Mercy Corps helped them refurbish by reinforcing the ceiling, repairing a window, adding proper electrical wiring and installing a hot water heater. Flanked by the two rooms is a small, enclosed concrete yard for the children to play in.
The distribution package they received from Mercy Corps has helped to keep the family warm throughout the chilly winter.
During our visit Samrah, Abeer and Rahaf — the three granddaughters who are too young for school — huddled around their 11-year-old aunt, Aya. Samrah ran out to buy sweets for the four of them. They were pretty cute as they ate their chocolate with the pure unabashed pleasure of children. Two-year-old Rahaf smeared chocolate all over her face during the process.
With loss behind them, the Al Hussein family is looking towards the future. One of their first priorities is to find a school for Aya and her older sister, Islam, to attend. Eighteen-year-old Islam enthusiastically shared, “I am near the end of my studies and want to finish my schooling.” Another priority is to find a good hospital for Hana, the Al Hussein’s daughter-in-law, who will give birth soon.
Mercy Corps’ assistance is helping the Al Hussein family meet their basic needs so they can focus on caring for the kids, preparing for a new baby and searching for employment. Until then, they rely on and appreciate the generosity of friends and neighbors, looking forward to the day they are able to pay back the kindness.