“I know it’s not much of a home, but it’s home. The very essence of it seems to mirror the challenges and difficulties of our situation” says Khaled.
From 2019 onwards, Lebanon continues to sink into one of the world’s worst global financial crises. The Lebanese Pound (LBP) has lost 96 percent of its value since 2019, and Lebanon witnessed inflation surging to 249 percent with an increase in the price of the basic food basket. Subsidy cuts on basic items such as food, medications, and fuel, have severely declined people’s purchasing power. With the compounding crisis still ongoing, an increasing number of households living within poorly conditioned shelters are at risk of eviction.
Khaled, 48 years old, is a Syrian community member living in Na’ameh, in Beirut Mount Lebanon. Khaled lives with his wife and five children, and additionally hosts his son’s family of four, as they struggle with the complexities of survival. Forced to flee their home due to the conflict in Syria, their hopes for safety and stability have been met with a new set of struggles in Lebanon. They are currently navigating a series of uncertainties, grappling with the will of survival as they strive to secure even the most basic of necessities. Every day is a relentless battle against poverty and desperation.
Medair’s Rehabilitation and Cash for Rent (CfR) project, in coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), seeks to assist the most vulnerable Syrian households in the community by enhancing well-being and providing protected space through improving dignified living conditions. Khaled spoke to us about the hardships and struggles he faces with his family under these challenging circumstances and how crucial it is for him to receive support.
While standing in his home staring at the walls that were once coated and vibrant with colour, now bearing the marks of peeling paint and cracks that cut their way across the surfaces, Khaled shares his story, “At the start of the Syrian conflict, I did not hesitate for a moment. As soon as word got out, I immediately sent my family to Lebanon. My brother-in-law was already living here with his family so the choice was already made for us. He found my family this home here. My family’s safety, that’s all I cared about. I had a respectable job back home in Syria, so I carried on for as long as I could, sending whatever I could to feed my family. But then, the situation worsened. It became unbearable to stay. I realized I was risking too much, and I still had my family to live for, so I took one last look at my home in Syria and never looked back. Where I am standing right now, this home, it sheltered my family and kept them safe. I know it’s not much of a home, but it’s home. The very essence of it seems to mirror the challenges and difficulties of our situation. The building itself is worn down, and our home has seen better days. The walls bear the mark of peeling paint with massive cracks in the foundation. Most of the windows are only empty decayed frames of metal in the absence of fixed glass. There are multiple leakages from the ceiling in the bathroom and the kitchen, with the faucets dripping almost with a persistent rhythm, creating pools of water on the floor. The once sturdy doors and handles have lost their complete function to provide safety and privacy with broken surfaces and cracked foundations. As you can see, the overall atmosphere is daunting, yet deep down for me it still retains a certain charm amidst its decay. All I want is for my family to feel safe and to feel dignified.”Top of Form
Silence fills the room, while everyone contemplates the reality of Khaled’s situation. Shortly after he continues, “I am doing what I can for my family, but the situation is setting us back. I don’t have a stable job, which means I cannot provide a stable income for my family. We’re not able to pay the increasing rent consistently and put food on the table regularly. Sometimes, we go days without a warm meal. Every evening around 8 o’clock, I put on clothes and go for a walk around the area. During this time, I leave my family at home alone to look through the waste containers for recyclable plastic. Sometimes I don’t make it home until the break of dawn. It serves more as a means of getting by, rather than a substantial income. It was slightly easier when I owned a tuk-tuk (a three-wheeled bicycle), but regrettably, it was stolen impeding my capacity to collect substantial amounts of plastic as before. I always tell my family that we must remain strong no matter what, and that together we will get through the difficult times. It’s difficult for my children to understand and I worry about their future. As the head of the household, if I can maintain a roof over their heads and some food in their stomachs, I consider myself blessed.”
Throughout its project, Medair has successfully reached an agreement with Khaled’s landlord in Beirut Mount Lebanon, whereby rent for Khaled’s household will be waived for a year, upon the organization undertaking repairs to renovate their home, providing Khaled and his family with safe and dignified living conditions. Cash for rent and rehabilitation projects play a pivotal role in improving the lives of poor communities in Lebanon by providing them with housing stability, dignity, and the opportunity to recover from crises and build a better future. Cash initiatives can also stimulate the local economy, giving people the opportunity to recover and focus on necessities.
Medair’s Cash for Rent (CfR) and Rehabilitation services in Beirut Mount Lebanon are funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
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.