Living on Someone Else’s Land
14 June 2017
Nawal, her husband, and their four children have been living in a lone tent set up on rented farmland in Lebanon for more than five years since fleeing from Syria.
We visited them on the day that Medair WASH’s team was distributing handwashing stations and installing a new latrine for the family. Nawal was gracious, welcoming, and extremely thankful for the difference Medair’s support had made in their lives.
“We had to leave Syria because of conflict,” said Nawal. “My husband knew the owner of this farm, because a long time ago they traded together. When we came here from Syria, we requested permission to build our tent here. We have been living here for more than five years.
“Back in Syria, we had our own land that we farmed, but here we live on someone else’s land.
Medair gave us water vouchers, and a truck comes here and fills our tank with water. Whenever the borehole is running, we get water. But it only runs when they need to irrigate the fields. This time of year, there is no irrigation so we need the water-trucking. We made the latrine ourselves.”
“The latrine looked like that before,” said Charbel, Medair relief worker, gesturing to an old wooden frame over a pit. “They covered a frame with plastic sheeting. It was an open cesspit. But now we are upgrading to an appropriate latrine, with a closed cesspit to contain the waste.”
“Thanks to God because you care,” Nawal said. “Medair is taking care of a lot of things. We received a hygiene kit, water vouchers, a latrine, and a handwashing station. I improved my shelter by myself, sewing together layers of plastic sheeting. Medair has also promised us additional wood and insulation for the winter.
“Before Medair came here, no one was coming. Then you came and gave us an identification number, so now people in the system know we are here. Even if you are only one tent, they will help you. There was a Medair clinic that I walked to; I got some medicines there and was very happy with the service I received.”
As we got into the car to go, Nawal continued to thank us, asking me to please visit again soon.
“Visiting us is just as important as the assistance,” she said, echoing what I have heard so many times before. Beyond shelter, water, and sanitation, the deepest need people have is to know that someone cares about them and wants to hear their story.
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Medair’s work in Lebanon is made possible with support from Global Affairs Canada (through World Relief Canada), European Union, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, All We Can (UK), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Gebauer Foundation (CH), and generous private donors.
This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.