Sharing realities and refugee stories

Today I experienced one (if not the most) impacting situations of my life. After 3 years of focusing my studies on the Middle East and the Syrian war, I finally had the opportunity to see with my own eyes the catastrophic impacts of the Syrian civil war, which already led to approximately 600,000 (Syrian observatory of human rights) casualties and more than 5.6 million refugees worldwide.


I was lucky enough to talk to Syrian refugees living in a camp near Baalbek, in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley. Lebanon alone welcomed 986,942 (registered) Syrian refugees (UN, April 2018), estimated numbers believe that approximately 1 million refugees have fled to Lebanon due to the bloody war.

While talking to Amira, 20 and mother of three children, it became even clearer that the situation in refugee camps, not only in Lebanon needs further assistance. She, born and raised in Hama, in west- central Syria and thousands of other refugees live in precarious conditions in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, France and etc. 

“Housewalls”. Picutre: Marina Guimarães


These people need help, and they need it now. They need
attention and they need a voice. More and more everyday. They came with nothing to a foreign country where they lack access to basic needs, such as health, education for their children, and a basic infra-structure for them to live. They sleep on the floor and fear the rain (their ceilings are made of cartons and sometimes covered with plastic or canvas, therefore, water and cold are even scarier for them.) During winter time, heating is non-existent (even when in Baalbek snows!)

Amira told me about how lucky she is to have found a job in agriculture, just like many of her friends who share her Syrian roots and live with her now (she shares a house with two other families).

A road through the camp. Picture: Marina Guimarães

However, just a few miles away many of her copatriots are now searching for better life opportunities in Beirut, most of them living (and sleeping) on busy streets and asking around for money.

Amira asked me to share her story and to give her a voice. The UN has already helped her. They provided her with a place to stay, donated a few everyday utensils and a ceiling. Amira is considered lucky among other refugees and is glad she made it to the neighbor country,but she is one in a million (literally).
Her friends at the camp also told me to share their stories. When I told them I was an aspiring journalist, I could see the smiles on their faces. ‘Tell them how it is here, show the pictures, say our names, we don’t care!’


I wish I would stay and I wish there was more I could do as an undergraduate, jobless 22 year-old. This is my attempt. Amira, I’m sharing your story, and I hope everyone who sees this article feels minimally what I have felt when stepping foot in this 60-tend small refugee camp in the middle of nowhere in Lebanon.

The Refugees and I. Picture: Marina Guimarães

 

By Marina Guimarães