Fadeelah is Not a Number

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Fadeelah is Not a Number
by Zena Khoury

It was a cold day in December when we visited Fadeelah, a Syrian refugee mother with her children in Jerash. As we waited to enter her home, we were all too aware of the sharp temperatures families living here must endure through the depths of winter. As soon as we entered her home, removing our shoes at the door (a sign of respect), we could feel the coldness of the floor penetrate our socks. We could only imagine how they felt having no socks.

Fadeelah fled Syria in May 2013. The painful decision of fleeing her country came after she heard that villages nearby were being attacked. Even though she had not seen any guns, she could hear them nearby, and she decided it was time to leave. Fadeelah’s husband was working abroad and was unable to be there with her throughout the crossing to Jordan. “The journey was difficult,” Fadeelah says. “We fled in secrecy, so I told my daughters that each of them could bring only one or two pieces of clothing, nothing more. We managed to fit everything we took into two school bags.” It took the family 12 hours to reach the Jordanian border where they were met by security forces who escorted them to Za’atari Refugee camp.

Fadeelah did not want to stay at the camp because she felt the environment was too harsh for her girls, so she decided to continue the journey to Jerash where her sisters had already arrived.

“I like Jordan because it’s safe,” Fadeelah says. “It is very difficult to leave your home, but at least I have my sisters here with me.”

Fadeelah’s husband sends her all the money that he can spare, but, unfortunately, it is rarely enough to take care of her and their seven children, two of whom were born in Jordan. “My husband sends us whatever he earns. He’s also only able to visit us once a year because he has to work so much.” Hence, Fadeelah has continued to experience a difficult time adapting to her environment in Jordan. Even though she was in a similar situation in Syria, now it is a place that is still viewed as foreign to her. She is not surrounded by the familiar faces and places she is used to, and because of that she is constantly worried about the safety and well-being of her children. Amidst these unfortunate circumstances Fadeelah does recognise that she is blessed to know that her children are all in good health.

“Thankfully, we are okay. We know that there are people in situations that are worse.”

*The family interviewed received assistance from World Vision Japan through the Japan Platform funding of Winterisation Kits.

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