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BOTTOMLINE: NO WORK, NO LIFE

Tareq heading to his work in the morning

 

All of you are guardians, and all responsible for your subjects".

A father of six children is a guardian with great responsibility. This responsibility is much greater if he is a displaced person living in extreme poverty.

Tariq is one of those displaced people. He left the village of Kafr Awaid in Jabal al-Zawiya, and is currently living with his wife and six children in a tent in Kelli after a harsh displacement journey, in which he suffered from a lot of unrest. He tells his story saying, “During the phase of displacement, we faced many financial and psychological hardships … We used to move from place to place,  and things were quite ugly until we settled in this tent”.

 It is not easy for people to leave their homes and the places where they grew up to live in a tent in a strange place, only to find circumstances exacerbating. Tariq adds saying, “In general, all people suffered, and I am among those who suffered a lot both financially and emotionally… Things were emotionally painful for me… I moved from my village to this place, which is a new place that I am not used. There is no job or income to live on.. We may work for a day and remain without work for several days. The wages are only enough to buy bread”.

However, Tariq’s conditions improved both financially and psychologically, when his request to join the camp maintenance workers’ team was approved, to become part of the cash-for-work projects implemented by the Binaa Foundation for Development in the camps for the displaced in Northern Syria. 

Tariq learned of the work opportunity through the Internet, and he did not hesitate to register his name, particularly since he had previously worked in the field of sanitary and electrical installations. After a while, members of the Binaa Foundation for Development team contacted him to inform him of the possibility of him joining the maintenance team. Tariq says: "By chance, while I was surfing the groups, I came across the link of the job advertisement for working in the sanitary installations. Since this was my previous field of work, I applied, and thank God I got accepted". 

Tariq performs maintenance work in several camps and is committed to performing his duties on a daily basis in coordination with the responsible supervisors in these camps. He explains the order of his duties, saying: "I carry out maintenance work in several camps in Kafr Awaid, Al-Kandush, and Morek. The evening prior to my visit, I communicate with the supervisor responsible for the camp and tell them that I will visit their camp the next day... I leave the house at around 8 a.m., and there I meet the supervisor who goes with me on a tour, and who explains to me the required repairs: panels, batteries or doors... When I get home in the evening, I upload the pictures to the supervisor and then I put them on the drive… This is the order of my work”.

Through this opportunity, Tariq’s life changed, and he started having a motivation for waking up in the morning. He also started making some income that gave him a sense of dignity. In simple words, he described his condition by saying,

“Work caused financial and psychological changes in my life. Financially, I started having an income, and psychologically, I felt that I started having commitments. I started going to bed early, so that I could wake up energized and active… I feel I have become a human being with work and obligations”.

Tariq's situation is not much different from that of many displaced people, who felt a different taste of life when they got an opportunity to work in the initiatives carried out by the Binaa Foundation for Development. Most people derive the value of their human existence through work and achievement. 

The need for work…a part of human nature:

The stories in the camps may differ in some details, but they all have the same essence. Families who left everything behind and wandered about in search of safety under the shade of a tree or a car, a rundown house or a tent, which are all a blessing as long as the roof does not collapse on their heads.

Ahmed was displaced with his family of seven from the village of Deir al-Gharbi in Maarrat al-Nu'man. Thank God that he found a tent to live in, and it is fine if it is overcrowded since it is a safe place away from the bombing. 

Ahmed, who hesitated a lot in making the decision to move, found himself compelled to depart, leaving all his possessions behind. He describes the situation by saying, “I live with my seven family members in one tent… During the period of displacement, we faced a lot of hardships, because we were too late to leave the village… And when we faced a lot of bombing, we had to leave everything behind".

Things were rough at the beginning, and there were many serious difficulties, particularly due to the overcrowding of the camp in which Ahmed lives, as well as the lack of job opportunities through which he may sustain his family. This is one of the biggest challenges faced by the displaced, including Ahmed, who says: “We faced many difficulties with respect to supporting our children financially.  It is common to experience difficulty in finding a job due to the high population… Every now and then, we would succeed in securing a job for a period of time and manage to get by”.

Since work is one of the pillars of a decent life that every human deserves, the projects launched by the Binaa Foundation for Development included securing job opportunities for the displaced in the camps of Northern Syria, to help improve the conditions of the camps by investing in human capacities available in the camps, through cash-for-work initiatives.

For this purpose, a team of maintenance workers was established, which Ahmed joined. He did not hesitate to apply for the job, particularly since it fits with his previous experience in sanitary and electrical installations. He was lucky to get accepted. He said, “We applied through the link...The supervisor announced a competition for which we needed to apply...He put the advertisements on the cabinets and the walls… Thankfully, God has blessed me with this job”. 

Ahmed goes to work early every morning. He carries out maintenance work in several camps in coordination with the camp supervisors. He is keen to check the blocks and the water taps in the bathrooms. He feels proud that he works in the same field of his expertise, and explains his work by saying: “Every morning I go to work… The nature of my job is the same as the one I used to do in my village… We inspect the blocks in the bathrooms in several camps, we do their maintenance… Taps, doors, and batteries. We don’t leave anything, and we avoid breakdowns… Even if we find a visible sewage system, we fill it in to avoid smells… Thank God, things are going fairly well”.

Starting to work within a team had a clear impact on Ahmed's life. His psychological and financial conditions improved, as it is not easy for a person to stay without work. Ahmed describes his condition, saying:

“It feels good, thank God… The need for work is an inherent human quality. If a man is forced to stay without work, things would be difficult for him, whether at home or outside… They would be feeling bad psychologically. After I started working, our conditions improved, thank God”.

The improvement made in the lives of the displaced is what the Binaa Foundation for Development strives for. If the ember of hope remains aglow in the hearts of people, they will find a reason to live and work for. However, this requires constant care and support, with all sides sharing the responsibility to preserve it.