Beginning Again

A family who fled civil war in Syria works to build a new life for their children.
By Robyn Wilson

Fatima*, an 8-year-old girl, wonders what it would be like to have a permanent home. When she was a baby, her family was forced to flee Syria during a war. Fatima’s parents left their life in Syria seven years ago and moved to Lebanon with their nine children.

When they arrived in Lebanon, Fatima’s father, Adham*, tried to find a house for them, but initially every landlord rejected him because of his large family. Eventually, a landowner allowed Adham and other Syrian refugees to build a tent on his land and pay rent. Fatima’s father built a semi-permanent structure of pieced together plywood and tarps that the family still lives in today. The tent is not insulated, so it is cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Their home also often floods when it rains.

But after surviving the horrors of war, they feel grateful to be alive and to have a home — no matter how humble, Fatima’s father says.

Fatima studies for two hours each night. Her favorite subject is math, and her older sister helps her when she has questions.
Each morning Fatima’s sister prepares a breakfast of vegetables, olives, hummus, and bread for her before she rushes off to school.

Eventually, Adham secured a job at a school near their home, but he still struggles to pay all his bills. His oldest children were forced to drop out of school to help provide for the family. This is a difficult reality for most refugees in their community.

When OneChild came to Adham’s community, he was grateful that he could register his youngest daughter, Fatima, into the program. Because of her sponsor, Fatima is able to attend an outstanding school. Child Champions at Fatima’s school encourage her to pursue her dreams.

And Fatima is building a strong relationship with her sponsor. “She’s so happy that she has a sponsor!” Adham says. “Fatima always waits for her sponsor’s letters, and she’s happy to receive them. The letters the children receive and the words in those letters are very, very special to them. It’s important for them to hear that someone from another country cares about them.”
*Names have been changed to protect identities.

Fatima is thriving because she has a sponsor who loves her and cares about her future. She would not be able to attend school without her sponsor’s help.