Marlon is testing out his new skills in Arabic on Samar.
This is Samar. A 20-year-old girl from Idlib in northern Syria. In 2012, she escaped the war in Syria and fled to safety in Lebanon with her family. She now lives in a tent in an Informal Tented Settlement (ITS) in the Bekaa valley with her parents and five siblings. “My family and I left Syria because of the fighting and to save the children and remain alive. I felt sad and it was painful to leave my country, my friends, and relatives”, says Samar.
“When I was younger I dreamt of becoming a lawyer but after I fled from Syria this dream was crushed. I am the breadwinner of the family now, so I can't tell them I want to pursue my dream.” Instead of studying in University she is spending six hours a day, six days a week, doing manual labour in agriculture in exchange for living for free on the land of the farmer. Samar and her sister are the breadwinners of the family of eight since her father is unable to work because of his poor health. The main income is from the food allowance from the World Food Programme and also UNHCR CASH programme.
“I worry a lot about my father because of his health condition. I worry about my grandma who is still in Syria. I worry about not being able to renew my residency permit. I worry about the situation in Syria. I worry about my friends in Syria because they are far away from me.”
The war did not only crush her dream of becoming a lawyer, it also stole the love of her life, Said. The man she was about to get engaged to. The love of her life. “I had pictured my life with this man to be very beautiful. Any girl would have dreamed about it. He had a good personality, he was elegant. Every time when I used to see him I felt true happiness.” Said got killed in an explosion. “I feel a huge sorrow. The first two years were very difficult for me. I couldn't accept that it happened,” Samar says quietly. “At first when I think about him, to our memories, I feel happiness. But then, I feel sorrow because this is something that I lost, he is gone. After Said died, I don't trust anymore, I haven't been able to believe in love anymore.”
Despite her worries and her sorrow Samar has a drive in her to make the future better. “I am always optimistic for the future, I will never stop my optimism,” she smiles. “Said, may his soul rest in peace, used to love me because I was always an optimist. Life has to continue no matter what and he never liked to see me sad. He loved to see the smile on my face and not that I would be depressed.”
So, Samar uses her optimism and drive to make life better for her family and the ones living in her ITS. She is an IFP (information focal point) for NRC. “I help people with hygiene promotion practices, I give them awareness session, and I encourage them that we together should help out to collect garbage to prevent diseases. If a fire breaks out, I put it down. If someone hurt themselves I support with first aid. I check the latrines to make sure they are clean. I give the children hygiene promotion session about how to wash their hands. Also, if parents want to register their children in school I help them. If someone needs to get to the hospital I support them. If someone wants to do birth registration I help them talk to the lawyers,” explains Samar. In addition to this, she also teaches a young girl in the ITS to read and write.
Samar dreams of moving back home to Idlib. “Syria was very beautiful, anyone would have wished to live there. It was very safe. Boys and girls would be out playing till late nights with no problem. No one would cause them harm. Syrian people were very generous and they had high manners. Life was very beautiful. However, I am afraid that Syria won't return to what it was before.”
Photo: Ingebjørg Kårstad/NRC.
From Marlon's Journey - møter unge på flukt