The conflict in Syria is not just jeopardising Abdul Minem and his family’s present, but their future as well.
“Before the problems happened, I used to live and work on a farm. There were trees and flowers that I used to look after,” he said. “There were grapes and olives, figs, mango and quinces.
“Thank God, we were happy and thank God, we had everything we needed.”
When the conflict reached their home, they decided to join the millions of people who were leaving Syria. They travelled on a lorry to Jordan.
“Stacked like cattle”
“The lorry usually carried animals. There were two levels. Women and children in the first level, men in the second. It was horrible; the heat, the dust. It was everywhere. There was nothing clean on our faces but our people. People were crying. I thought my brain would explode from the crying and the noise.”
At the border, the Jordan army gave them tents and food until they were able to cross over into Jordan. They tried to find somewhere to live, finally settling in Al-Mafraq, in a home that used to be a stable.
As a refugee, Abdul Minem is not allowed to work and so he and his family are completely reliant on food vouchers from the World Food Programme. He has no other way of supporting his family and making sure they eat adequately.
“The voucher has been reduced,” he said. “Now, if we have potato, it is a celebration. If they cut the value of the voucher more, I will go crazy. It is our only way of surviving.
“Sometimes I wish I had been killed in Syria. Sometimes I think that would be much better than this life. When I go to the shop, sometimes I ask the price of something. The owner recognises me and knows I don’t have much money, so screams at me that I cannot afford it. There is no humanity there.”
Now, Abdul Minem’s hopes centre on ensuring his children get an education.
“Education is light and ignorance is darkness”
He has twin girls Bayan and Batool, who are 14. Bayan is in school, but Batool, who has Down’s Syndrome, has been told there are no facilities for her.
His next eldest children, Muna, 12, and Fadya, 10, are also in school. But Fatima, nine, and Sedra, six, are currently not receiving an education. He wonders what will happen to his two youngest children Yasmeen, four, and Mohammad, two, when they are of school age. The older sisters help to teach the younger ones in their spare time, but without paper and pens, it is difficult.
“My wish is that my daughters study and get educated, become able to hold responsibility. May Allah give them and all people on planet Earth the best.”
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