Sarah* is only 30 years old but her eyes tell of a hard life.
“I can’t think of anything that’s good that happens to me in my day,” Sarah says.
She has lived in Tripoli, Lebanon, in a makeshift tent for five years with her three children, two boys and a girl.
Bassem is the eldest and the man of the house. He stands at the door, on the lookout, protecting his home. He is only six.
Hassan is five. He stays close to his mother, rarely leaving her side. He has been sick recently. Sarah’s children always seem to be sick. He smiles shyly.
The youngest, Sandy, is only two and is constantly crying. There are no smiles, no childish giggles.
Five years ago Sarah and her husband decided to leave their home in Homs, Syria.
“There was a lot of shelling. Shelling and bullets were coming in through the windows. My children were very young, we had to leave,” Sarah says.
For a week, the family desperately tried to escape their own home but the fighting was so intense they never made it out of the front door.
All they ate was stale bread dipped in tea. Finally, a break in the fighting meant her family could flee.
Cash grants support the family
Since March 2014, the British Red Cross has been working with the Lebanese Red Cross to support Syrian refugees.
As well as providing food, water and sanitation, we also help the most vulnerable families with cash grants.
These monthly payments mean that people like Sarah can keep a roof over their heads, and buy essential medicines and food.
“My first thoughts in the morning are: I wish my husband was with us”
Sarah hasn’t seen her husband in over two years and he has never met his daughter.
He returned to Syria for his brother’s funeral and he hasn’t been able to rejoin his family since. But Sarah keeps going for her children.
“When I open my eyes the first person I see is my daughter, and she’s the one that makes my day,” says Sarah.
Sarah has built herself a daily routine that allows the family to feel some sense of normality.
She wakes up in the morning, gets her children dressed and gives them a breakfast of pickled eggplant, the only thing in Sarah’s kitchen cupboard.
The little ones are always sick so Sarah has worked hard to make her kitchen hygienic.
An improvised worktop keeps their few plates and cups away from the stagnant water that collects on the rough cement floor.
Sarah cleans the tent and does the laundry.
This is her day. Every day.
“I’m waiting for my husband to come back to me. I speak to him when I can,” she says.
“My hope for the future is to give my children an education, to go back home. Most of all, I want us to go back home.
“I wish for the nice times and for the world to be beautiful like it was.”
Red Cross cash support lifts some of Sarah’s burden. It allows her to cover her basic needs: anything left over she saves for medicine for her children.
“The assistance I get from the Red Cross is very important for me, it’s improving my situation,” adds Sarah.
“I provide for my children, I feed them. I take them to the doctor and buy medicine. If wasn’t getting this assistance my life would be extremely difficult.”
Please help us continue to support the millions of Syrian people who, after six years of fighting, are still unable to return home. Give today to our Syria Crisis appeal.
- Support the Syria Crisis Appeal
- A dream, a memory and a cash grant: how Syrian refugees keep going in Jordan
- Find out more about how we help families caught up in the Syria crisis
*Sarah’s name has been changed to protect her privacy