Eight-year-old Qamar isn’t sure what she wants to be when she grows up. She’s trying to decide between becoming a doctor, so that she can cure people who ask for her help, or a tailor, to be able sew dresses for her toys.
For the last two years Qamar’s family has been living in Jordan. They didn’t want to leave Syria, but when the family’s four bedroom house in Homs was hit by a mortar shell, trapping them inside that they realized it was time to leave. Qamar says: “I was playing on a rocking chair when a sniper arrived in the area. There was a big hole in our house [caused by the fighting] that we had to climb through to escape.”
Their first stop was Al Za’atari Refugee Camp, before moving to one apartment outside of the camp, then another, and finally settling in their current building, where six of them are trying to adjust to a new life.
Their apartment is quite dark, with no carpet and just a fan to keep them cool during the sweltering summer days. There are two sofas in the lounge, and mattresses on the floor. Three months ago their landlord put the rent up without explaining why.
Right now, the only income the family has is what Rajaa, Qamar’s mom, makes selling spinach and chopped mulukhiyah [a middle eastern vegetable]. She earns between three to five Jordanian Dinars a day; their rent is 160 dinars a month, with electricity and water bills on top. It isn’t enough.
Qamar’s family is one of the 500 households – a total of 4,400 people - who have benefited from World Vision’s cash assistance of 150 dinars per month within the No Lost Generation project implemented under the framework of the Jordan Response Plan 2015.
Cash assistance has helped Qamar’s family ensure that their daughter receives an education and is not forced to drop out of school because of her family’s poor living situation. Her two older sisters, Nour and Zaynab, don’t like going to school, but Qamar enjoys learning: “I love to play in school and I like the breaks between classes. My favorite subjects are Arabic and Math. I am friends with Jordanians at school and there are two Syrians too. My wish is to obtain full marks and have my name written on the list of distinctive students.”
Even with the assistance her family receives, it’s a struggle to put enough food on the table each day, especially since the value of the food voucher was reduced because of a lack of sufficient funding from the international community. “Ever since the [food] voucher’s value decreased from 13 to 10 dinars [per month] only, my fridge doesn’t have much food inside. We only buy vegetables, but our wish is to buy beef”, Rajaa said. She added that they had not had chicken for two months and had never actually had beef since their arrival. “We want to feel full. Fruits and vegetables are all we see and have,” says Rajaa.
While Qamar is adjusting as best as possible to her new life, her 21-year-old brother, Mohamed, barely speaks. He suffers from a speech disorder and didn’t finish school.
Rajaa, says: “The future of the children is lost, just like Mohamed’s, because he should have studied and worked, so he can eventually get married. As for the girls, I can arrange for them to get married. I just want their future to be better since they cannot do anything now.”
The cash assistance has enabled them to make basic improvements to their accommodation. They installed a new water tank, so now they can shower with hot water; but, the ceiling leaks, and Rajaa needs to clean it every night with a mop.
No matter how comfortable they make their house, it can never feel like home. “My wish is to return back home. My wish for my children is to have us all gathered in our home country and be at our best,” says Rajaa. Qamar, who was five when she left Syria, agrees: “I prefer the old house because it is in my home country. When I was in Syria, I was never afraid of anything.”
Qamar wants to return to Syria once the war and shooting is over. She grabbed a pen and said: “If I had a magical pen, I would draw a flower and a house in which my family would live. I would be happy if I stay here, but I will be happier if I can go back to Homs.”
Project name: No Lost Generation
JRP Objective: REF 2 - Access to education sustained for all vulnerable boys and girls (children, adolescents and youth) affected by the Syria crisis
JRP Specific Objective: REF 2.1 - Equal access to education opportunities
Project description: The No Lost Generation project is implemented in six governorates in Jordan; Irbid, Mafraq, Jerash, Ajloun, Zarqa and Amman, and aims at strengthening and harmonizing access to emergency child protection interventions and services for boys and girls. The project also aims at sustaining and improving access to appropriate education opportunities in a protective learning environment for children and youth.
Project duration: 12 months
Project Budget: USD 1.7 million
Financing Agency: Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (DFATD) Canada
Implementing Partner: World Vision International