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Syria: Lebanese and refugees working together

By Mona Monzer and Rakan Diab, Save the Children in Lebanon

Refugees continue to pour over the borders from Syria – over 2,000 cross into Lebanon every day. But for many, the terrifying journey out of Syria is very far from the end of the struggle. In Lebanon, they have trouble finding housing, accessing basic services and crucially, making a living.

Syrian children at a refugee settlement near the border

Abd El Menhem is 40. He made the treacherous journey from Syria to Lebanon three months ago.  “We don’t have a lot of opportunities here and it is getting harder and harder to find jobs and have an income.  I need to take care of my family.” Abd El Menhem has a child with a disability and he is worried about being able to look after him.

In response, Save the Children has started cash-for-work programmes in Mashha, northern Lebanon, for refugees and members of the community, providing employment and an income for around 30 people. Abd El Mneham is one of those workers. He tells our staff that the project is a great opportunity for him to make money and feed his children.  “I hope I will always have access to this sort of work because I don’t see any other alternative”.

A real community project

Not only does this project provide families with means to earn a living; it ensures important works are carried out in the community. Khaled, a father living in Mashha, voiced his concern that speeding cars have been endangering the safety of children attending the local school. “My five children come to school here,” he says, adding that rocks also fall on the hill where the school is in winter and “because of the rain, water was leaking inside the classrooms.” Now, Save the Children is paying the local community to build a wall around the school.

Khaled is benefiting: he started work on the construction project a month ago.  “We are doing this for our own village,” he says. “Syrian and Lebanese are working together.  I see them invested in this project as much as we are.  Their children come to this school too”. And of course, the other beneficiaries are the children. “This wall is very useful,” says Khaled. “Children will not be running in the streets because there will be enough space for buses to park inside the schools.  This wall will protect our children”.

The children can also gather and play in the  enclosed space.  “The idea is to bring in different toys and games for children to have fun during their breaks”, saysAhmad, a Save the Children team member.  “We might even
decorate the wall with their drawings”.

Save the Children desperately needs more funds to continue its work in northern Lebanon. Please help us, using the Donate button to your right.

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