As the world reflects on the fourth anniversary of the Syria crisis, Abo Abdo is tired from all the problems he and his family have faced.

He and his wife have three children and were living in one of the suburbs of Damascus, Syria, when the conflict started in 2011. His home was bombarded by rocket fire, and one day, one of his children, Mousa, was standing near the window when a rocket fell close by, shattering debris over him and leaving him with a severe head injury. Rushed to hospital, he underwent surgery that saved his life, but he still lost sight in his right eye.

Abo Abdo with his wife and three sons

Abo Abdo with his wife and three sons

The family moved north to a town near Idlib in north-west Syria where they tried to make a new home for themselves. Their youngest child Mohammed, who is just five, has many health problems.

On to the way to hospital one day for heart surgery, he and his mother were turned away at a checkpoint and told to go home or be arrested. They went back home, and the area was soon surrounded by fighting.

“I used to take my family and go out to search for food, we used to gather some plants and grass that animals usually feed on and boil it with water to eat, it was the only way to keep us alive,” Abo Abdo said.

Unable to cope any longer

They were exposed to chemical weapons, saw the impact of bombs and fighting, and struggled to get enough nutrition. His eldest children Abdo and Mousa now have stunted growth, while Mohammed’s health has deteriorated. At one point, he slipped into a coma for ten days. All three children are emotionally scarred by all they have witnessed.

Receiving aid; the tent where Abo Abdo and his family live.

Receiving aid; the tent where the family lives.

A man helped the family escape Syria, driving them to the Lebanese border.

“We left Syria and came to Lebanon to seek a secure place and to seek medication for my boys,” said Abo Abdo. “We went first to a local NGO at the Lebanese border, they told us that they will find us a place to stay in. They took us in a car and searched for a place for us to live in, but they left us in front of a mosque. We stayed all the night in the street in front of that mosque, no one helped us.”

Abo Abdo and his family now live in one of the 12 refugee camps in Lebanon, where Islamic Relief supports them with food, and hygiene packs containing items such as soap and toothbrushes. During the winter, we gave the family blankets, mattresses and carpets to help them stave off the cold. Abo Abdo suffers from debilitating headaches and is unable to work.

His only wish is for his children to become healthy enough that they can hope for a better future one day.

Islamic Relief has been providing humanitarian aid to vulnerable families since the onset of the crisis in 2011. Our programmes now assist refugees in Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan as well as those suffering inside Syria itself. As Syria enters a fifth year of conflict, we are determined to do even more than ever before to provide relief and end the suffering.

Support our Syria emergency appeal and join in the conversation at #4Syria.