Lebanon: Syrian refugees prepare for winter

World Vision is providing Syrian refugee families with hygiene kits and monthly food vouchers and also plans to provide blankets, clothing, stoves, and heating fuel.

By Chris Huber, World Vision U.S., with reporting by Patricia Mouamar, World Vision Lebanon.
Published November 26, 2012 at 12:00am PST

Raed wouldn’t admit he was cold.

He crossed his hands uncomfortably across his torso and occasionally shrugged his shoulders. He was still wearing his summer clothes as rain fell on Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, indicating the coming of winter.

The 10-year-old from Syria doesn’t have anything warmer to wear.

Forced to leave home

Raed fled to Lebanon six months ago with his mother, Leila*, and three siblings. His school was bombed just minutes after he and his classmates had left for the day.

Bombs also reduced the family’s home to rubble, forcing them to leave.

“The boys don’t even have a jacket,” says Leila. “Our neighbor, today, brought a cap for my youngest daughter. May God bless them, but that is [all we have].”

The family is among more than 126,000 refugees who have fled to Lebanon since the violence in Syria began in March 2011. That includes more than 65,000 children.

Raed’s father, Ahmad*, came to the Bekaa Valley in 2011 to find work as a general laborer. Though the family is together now, sporadic income, a deteriorating shelter, and looming cold weather instills fear of the unknown.

At about 215 square feet, the family’s shelter won’t keep them warm during the winter months. Ahmad, Leila, and their four children live here with six other relatives.

Ahmad spent all his savings to repair the rotted ceiling last winter. This year, the rain has already found its way in through cracks in the disintegrating walls.

Everything is damp. With no heating, Raed and his family risk getting sick.

“Children are our main concern,” said Wael, Ahmad’s cousin. “[The adults] take shifts in sleeping, trying to watch over the children from the danger of the ceiling falling on their heads, or ease their fear when they wake up at night. Here, everything is different for them.”

World Vision’s response

As refugees in northern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley prepare for the onset of winter, World Vision is providing 3,500 families with supplies, including hygiene kits and monthly food vouchers.

Additional plans include supplying 6,100 families with blankets, clothing, stoves, and heating fuel for six months.

Child-Friendly Spaces operate in numerous communities, providing a safe place to play and learn for children unable to attend school. World Vision re-launched two Child-Friendly Spaces on November 26. They include activities for children ages 4 to 6 years.

*Adults’ names have been changed for the families’ protection.

Two ways you can help

Pray for children and families impacted by the violence in Syria. Pray especially for families who have been separated due to the conflict. Pray for emotional and physical protection for vulnerable children and families, and protection from the cold weather.

Make a one-time gift to help provide assistance for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Your donation will help us provide basic hygiene kits and food vouchers for refugee families, as well as established Child-Friendly Spaces to give affected children a safe place to play, learn, and interact with their peers.