AN AMBITIOUS MANDATE TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE AND THE COUNTRY
Just like everything is affected during war, the family of Abdullah, who was only 14 years old when the popular uprising in Syria began in 2011, was impacted as well. Soon after that, the country underwent a series of successive events that later turned into a full-on war that changed the fate of this boy in an unprecedented and unexpected way.
At a work site run by Binaa for Development, we met Abdullah S.M. He introduced himself to us: “My name is Abdullah from the town of Telmans, located in the rural area of Ma’arat Al-Na’aman. I am 24 years old, and I currently reside in Al-Sheikh Bahr camp.”
Abdullah and his family’s difficult circumstances were quite similar to what many Syrian were facing, especially in light of continuous bombing and displacement. However, this young man was confronted by additional challenges. He explains: "I am the only provider for my family and children, in addition to my brother’s family who died as a martyr in the war.”
Sitting on a pile of rocks at the side of the road, he continues: “The situation was very difficult, especially with the deterioration of the local currency against the U.S. Dollar. I could not provide food; neither meat nor chicken nor even vegetables…Securing a loaf of bread was not easy as well. It was almost impossible to do anything without being in debt.”
The rocks where Abdullah was sitting were intentionally moved there as they were to be shattered and used in the construction of the drainage canal. Behind him were large eucalyptus trees casting their shadows over members of the team as they split stones, paved them, and fixed the blocks with cement to complete the construction of the canal.
Abdullah, a member of the team, joined the cash-for-work initiative implemented by the Binaa Organization. He says: “I thank God every day that I was accepted into this project. I benefited a lot. I was without a job. I could not secure bread nor a proper meal.”
A person’s outlook on life changes when the circumstances surrounding him change. For instance, Abdullah explains how his life changed after he got this job opportunity: “We can now cook and buy bread. We have an income that we can actually save from.”
Today, Abdullah can provide for his family and serve his community through the work he does in paving and restoring roads. He highlights the importance of the project for the residents: “The area benefited greatly from this initiative which prevented the camps from flooding.”
While adjusting the protective yellow helmet on his head, Abdullah gives insight on the situation prior to the rehabilitation process: “Before paving the road, one had to walk around 17 km to buy basic supplies. Today, the distance has decreased to no more than 2 or 3 km.” Furthermore, he calls attention to the opportunities that the new road has provided: “New blacksmith shops and pharmacies have opened. The roads contributed to the revival of the area and the camps. The project is a good one.”
New blacksmith shops and pharmacies have opened. The roads contributed to the revival of the area and the camps. The project is a good one” - Abdullah, one of the workers in the project.
The road maintenance project that Abdullah works in is a part in a series of projects to construct, restore and rehabilitate roads in rural Idlib. It is implemented by the Binaa Organization, which is also working on other initiatives related to restoring unfinished houses, responding to health-related needs and providing other relief services. What is remarkable is that fact that all of the aforementioned projects aim to safeguard human dignity and are linked, one way or another, to the cash-for-work programme. They also contribute to securing a better life for the displaced through programs that first and foremost provide services to them.