We need a lot of things, clothes for the kids and food, but we are getting by.
Safaa and Ahmad are from Homs, Syria and now live in the back of the tire shop where Ahmad’s father works, in Saida, Lebanon. “We were registered with the UN but they took us off the list. We used to get food assistance but they stopped it for us and my in-laws,” says Safaa.
Safaa’s father in law, Said, left Homs and was joined by the rest of the family in Lebanon once bombings started. Two families now live in a small room in the back of the shop where Said works. “A Lebanese guy told him about this place, he told him there was a room he could stay in, with his family,” she explains.
Their living conditions are very poor: Ahmad suffers from a form of epilepsy that prevents him from working and providing for his family. “He was born with the illness and it got worse as he grew up. He gets really nervous and he gets epilepsy episodes where his whole body shakes.” Safaa’s brother in law is also sick and cannot work.
Ahmad has access to the treatment he needs thanks to the support the EU Trust Fund gives to the International Medical Corps (IMC) and its partners on the ground. “The consultation costs 3,000 LL, but for Ahmad’s treatment they don’t charge us anything,” Safaa says. “Before we started going to the Mouwasat clinic, [...] we were buying Ahmad’s medicines with our own money.” REBAHS, which stands for “Reduced Economic Barriers to Accessing Healthcare Services” is an IMC-led project that focuses on primary healthcare, community healthcare and mental healthcare. Patients pay a moderate fee (i.e. 3,000 LL or €1.8) for consultations, lab diagnostics, test results and medications from the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health’s essential medical list.
Ahmad’s mother, who underwent a mastectomy and head surgery in the past, is in need of very expensive medications to treat seizures that would otherwise afflict her. “All the money we make from working are used to buy enough food and the rest goes to her treatment. [...] We need a lot of things, clothes for the kids and food, but we are getting by.”
When asked if her family would like to go back to Syria, Safaa says: “Our only hope is with God, we don’t really know. All Syrians would like to go back to their country so we hope things will get better. [...] We have no home in Syria and here we can afford to live, as long as we are working.”