Stories

Care for Caregivers

Over the last few years, families with disabled people living in the tented settlements in Bekaa valley have been enormously affected by Lebanon’s ongoing socio-economic crisis. With a steady rise in socio- economic vulnerability and limited income opportunities, refugee families caring for loved ones with disabilities struggle with adequate shelter in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. Their difficult living conditions puts them at risk of irreversible and lasting harm. 

Watching him suffer day after day hurts me. I do my utmost to comfort him, but I know most days it feels like it’s not enough,” says Samra. 

“My family and I fled at the start of the conflict in Syria eleven years ago. Like many others, we had to flee, leaving everything we’ve ever known behind in search of a safe shelter. Who would have known that the conflict would last for eleven years?! My family and I surely didn’t. When we fled Syria, we thought we would be away for a year or two and make a safe return to our home afterwards. But now, this is permanent. This is our reality. Life is happening now. Since we’ve arrived in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, we’ve moved three times already over the years. We were lucky to find a home when many weren’t. Here is home now and has been home for the past five years. I cannot stand the idea of moving again. It is not only difficult to do so, but impossible now with my husband’s deteriorating condition.” 

“My husband, Mohamad is 70 years-old and a disabled person. He has suffered from a congenital disease since birth. People with this congenital disease experience a disability or health problems throughout their life. My dear Mohamad had his leg amputated during the early stages of adulthood. I know that it’s been hard on him, I can feel it. He was such an active and energetic person. His knowledge in agriculture was fascinating, and he always used to come back home after working the fields with stories to tell us. Now, he cannot walk without  support. I am always by his side, at any cost. Picking him up from his bed on the floor late at night and walking him to the toilet is such a difficult task on uneven ground. I always need to stay attentive as he’s stuck to his floor bed, where he sleeps uncomfortably. Watching him suffer day after day hurts me. I do my utmost to comfort him, but I know most days it feels like it’s not enough,” says Samra, while bringing out a blue bag full of empty prescription medications that she empties on the floor in front of her.

A floor mattress rests on the floor in a tented home

Mohamad, 70-year-old, is a Syrian community member and a Person with a Specific Needs living with his family in a tented home in Jeb Jannine, the Bekaa valley on the 25th of August 2022.    Prior to Medair’s intervention for People with Specific Needs (PwSN), Mohamad used to sleep on this matt, or what he refered to as his floor bed. Mohamad can now sleep on a newly provided bed with a mattress provided to him by Medair.  ©Medair/Abdul Dennaoui

Shortly after, she continues, “we are a family of six and we all live in one bedroom. I know weve made a life here for ourselves and I cannot thank God enough. However, with the struggles we are facing at present, the situation is becoming unbearable. God, please forgive me for saying so,” she says, looking up. “You’ve given us so much, and we are grateful. But it’s so challenging. Prices have skyrocketed, and we are merely surviving. I am aware this will have a long-term impact on us and the future and the well-being of our children. Electricity, food, and medication costs are higher than ever now. There is not much that we can afford anymore. Inflation affected food prices significantly. We’ve had to limit our food portion sizes and sometimes we even reduce the number of meals we consume per day. Weve cut it down to the bare minimum and only the essentials. Even for medication, with the shortages at the pharmacies, we cannot even access basic medication. Look here, a bag full of empty prescriptions. Even if we could afford the medications, when you approach pharmacies, they tell you that they are not available. I am terrified for my husband’s health. I truly care for him, and I want him to live a good and healthy life. If I cannot provide him with the basic medication, his health will continue to deteriorate. There is no shame in saying that we need support. Anything that can comfort my husband will relieve some of the burden I am feeling. Sometimes when he is asleep on his bed on the floor, I will approach him and put my hand on his head and pray to God that he helps me do whatever I can for him. A man of his age with his condition should not be sleeping on the floor. It’s tragic, but it is our reality,” says Samra with a trembling voice.  

Several empty prescription medications rest on a floor in a tented home whilst a female community member holds an empty box of medication up

Samra, 65-years-old, a Syrian community member and Mohamad’s wife, 70-year-old, shows the Medair team in her tented home the amount of medications she must provide for her husbands condition while sitting on the floor in their tented home in Jeb Jannine, the Bekaa valley on the 25th of August 2022.  ©Medair/Abdul Dennaoui

Many refugee families caring for loved ones with a disability are bearing the brunt of the crisis and finding a dignified and safe shelter continues to be a struggle for most. Medair provided Samra’s family with a proper bed and mattress for her husband Mohamad to sleep on and a sturdy walkway that runs alongside the tent where they live, creating a clear, even path to the family’s bathroom. 

In coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Medair in Lebanon provides tailored assistance to families with people with disabilities. This helps to reduce their dependency on caregivers and helps relieve some of their burden. Throughout its project, Medair will improve the access of fifty People with Specific Needs (PwSN) within tents in the North, South and West Bekaa Valley, through installation of ramps, pathways, handrails, toilet seats and distribution of commode chairs, beds, and mattresses. 

A cemented pathway leading to the bathroom in a tented settlement

Mohamad, 70-year-old, is a Syrian community member and a Person with a Specific Needs living with his family in a tented home in Jeb Jannine, the Bekaa valley on the 25th of August 2022.    Part of Medair’s intervention in Mohamad’s tented home included cementing the floor to provide free access including a smooth ramp, on the ground floor where possible, and with sufficient space to pass through. Addtionally, part of the intervention included cementing the floor and installing tiles to give safe passage to the toilet. ©Medair/Abdul Dennaoui

A person with a disability rests on a newly installed bed with a mattress

Mohamad, 70-year-old, is a Syrian community member and a Person with a Specific Needs living with his family in a tented home in Jeb Jannine, the Bekaa valley on the 25th of August 2022.    Mohamad suffers from a congenital disease since birth and had his leg amputated at the early stages during adulthood. Part of Medair’s intervention in Mohamad’s tented home included providing him with a new bed as well as cementing the floor to provide free access including a smooth ramp, on the ground floor where possible, and with sufficient space to pass through. ©Medair/Abdul Dennaoui

 


Medair services in The Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, are funded by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) 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 organization.