“This Crisis Made Our Children Adults”

Saadya and her family of nine live in a small apartment in Amman.

Saadya and her family of nine live in a small apartment in Amman.

I meet Saadya, 75, who greets me with a warm embrace, even though we’ve never met. She introduces me to her granddaughter Sanaa, 19, whose 18-month-old twins playfully chase each other around the room. I also meet her grandson Fadyeh, 17, while her granddaughters Sadye, 13, and Taghreed, 11, wait quietly in the next room.

“Saadya doesn’t want them to relive what happened in Syria because they’re so young,” says Deema, our community liaison. “That is why they’re in the other room.”

Their neighbours found the two girls and brought them to Saadya and Fadyeh, who were hiding on a nearby farm. Saadya knew they couldn’t stay in Syria anymore. They fled to Jordan.

As I sit with Saadya and her grandchildren, I soon understand why.

“We had our own land and farm,” begins Saadya. “It was beautiful. Everyone there felt like family.”

Their life vanished the day the Syrian crisis reached their neighbourhood in Homs. When the gunfire started, Saadya fled on foot to safety with Fadyeh.

Inside their family home, Saadya’s son and his wife rushed their three youngest children to the car, but as they started to drive off, an armed group appeared ahead of them. The mother yelled to her young daughters to duck behind the front seats for cover. Doing so saved their lives. Sadye and Taghreed survived that day; their parents and six-year-old brother did not.

In Jordan, they lived in a small tent at Zaatari refugee camp before moving to an apartment with another of Saadya’s sons. For a time, their lives improved. “We were happy. We lived in a good place and we were together,” says Saadya.

Their happiness was short-lived. To make ends meet, Saadya’s son was working illegally without a work permit. He was caught and sent back to Syria.

Saadya has been crying all through her story, and as she tells me this, tears roll down her face in a steady stream. “If I had known they were taking him back to Syria I would have gone with him,” she says, heavy with grief. “Now I don’t know where he is.”

Saadya and her grandchildren were left with nothing but their dwindling savings to live on. Like many Syrian refugee children, Fadyeh felt that he should be working to help the family, but he knew that working could lead to his eviction—or his whole family’s. It was an impossible decision. “This crisis has made our children adults,” says Saadya. “In Syria, no children worked.”

When Medair learned about Saadya and her grandchildren, we began giving them with a monthly cash payment of 125 Jordanian dinar (USD 175). This money helps cover their urgent needs like rent and medical bills. It means that Fadyeh does not need to work illegally to support them. While it may not solve all their problems, it is at least a reprieve from the constant stress of struggling to survive that they have felt since leaving Syria.

“Before Medair’s assistance, we weren’t able to go to the doctor,” says Saadya. “We want to thank you, Medair, for not forgetting us. Please don’t forget us.”

Syria’s families have been torn apart by this crisis. Millions are separated from each other by national borders or lost for good. Beyond the physical needs of surviving and starting over, so many refugees carry the trauma of what they have endured—and what they continue to endure as refugees. 

Medair provides Syrian families like Saadya’s, as well as vulnerable Jordanian families, with cash assistance which help cover the costs of their most urgent needs. We also provide them with psychosocial support and cash vouchers to cover health care costs. Your monthly gifts make this crucial work possible. Please join the journey today.

Medair’s work in Jordan is made possible with support from Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the European Commission, Swiss Solidarity, 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.