THE OLD MAN AND THE CAMP: ROAD SURFACING PROJECT RESTORES SOME NORMALITY TO LIFE
Too often, displacement is an ongoing grim psychological and social experience. Fleeing a bombed-out area is not the end but the beginning of a series of new hardships. An untenable situation endured – because it is believed to be temporary – soon becomes a way of life.
For the majority of the displaced people in northern Syria, this is exactly what has happened. Forced to start their lives from scratch, many ended up in a rented house or an IDP camp hastily erected in agricultural or open land.
At the Bsina camp in the Idlib countryside, we spoke to an elderly resident, Mr. Ahmed Al-Abdullah, and asked him about conditions in the camp. He said, “They built bathrooms for us, but I was afraid to go there at night.”
"I am an old man. I was afraid of falling down and breaking a bone”, Mr. Al-Abdullah explained, referring to his need to visit the bathroom at night, perhaps more than once. “The ground in the camp was always muddy…my sons or daughters had to accompany me when I went to the facilities.”
BINAA for Development conducts regular surveys to assess the living conditions of the camps in the Idlib countryside and residents’ needs. Following such evaluations, the Organization’s survey teams recommend responses. Quite often, these interventions are related to accessibility, the availability of water, waste accumulation, and nutritional needs, as well as flood measures (during the winter season).
In the Bsina camp, where Mr. Al-Abdullah resides, BINAA initiated a project to surface the camp’s roads with gravel. This solution facilitates residents’ movement and addresses the accumulation of mud and water, two problems that come with the onset of winter.
“Originally, this camp was agricultural land”, Mr. Al-Abdullah explains. “When we arrived, the land was planted with barley. As soon as the first rains began to fall, the land was covered with water and mud.”
He added, “Since the road was surfaced, I can manage to walk alone to the bathrooms. I still need a flashlight, but the situation is better.”
Thanks to the road surfacing project, Mr. Al-Abdullah was also able to return to his daily routine. “In the morning, I walk five or six times”, he says, pointing towards the outskirts of the camp. “Before that, the pathways were too difficult; I couldn’t move around. They provided us with a service that is very vital… May God reward them.”
“Before that, the pathways were too difficult; I couldn’t move around. They provided us with a service that is very vital… May God reward them ” Mr. Ahmed Al-Abdullah
The road surfacing project is among a group of initiatives launched by BINAA for Development to help the camps’ residents withstand the harsh winter conditions. In the Bsina camp the Organization’s projects also include paving the roads, as well as providing insulation for tents and protecting them from winter floods.
Approximately 10,000 families (nearly 50,000 people) in 47 camps benefit from these projects.
Such initiatives ease, somewhat, the camps’ harsh realities. The shocking conditions caused by the ubiquitous winter mud have improved. In addition to increasing mobility for residents, these initiatives also contribute to cleaner tents and camps.
With a kind smile, Mr. Al-Abdullah stood to bid us farewell. As simple as it might seem, this specific intervention meant a lot to this elderly man and improved the lives of tens of thousands of displaced people. At BINAA for Development, our teams will push even harder to address the needs of displaced people and provide them with vital services and projects.