When 21-year-old Waed’s contractions spurred her to leave home and see her midwife, she knew she was about to give birth to new life. She didn’t realize that she would also be saving her own. As she was delivering her baby girl, Muna, in a nearby building, a rocket fell on her house. It was destroyed.
“We joked about calling her Rocket,” says Waed, “because a rocket marked her birth. She saved us from a rocket.”
Muna’s first days were spent in a shelter for the conflict-displaced in Syria. The rockets continued, and the shelter was filling with families, forced from their homes. Waed’s transition to motherhood was marked by insecurity and fear. “They took me to the shelter and I slept there with my baby for three days. I didn’t have any milk at first, because I was stressed and scared,” she says. “Muna was sick. The milk came back but then it went again.”
Waed and Muna left the shelter to stay with relatives, but the fighting continued. “I was so, so scared. Six months later, I moved to Jordan,” Waed explains. Her husband, she adds, had to stay behind.
Waed’s father, Ibrahim, recalls the months preceding his family’s exit from Syria. “You hear stories, you know, rumors. The neighbors’ villages getting hit, people getting killed. And then it’s in your village. Then your house is destroyed and then you know: This is real fear. This is truth now, not rumor. I saw sixty people, killed in front of my eyes. By the time we left, people were dying one by one. Children were being killed, and women. I didn’t want to leave my Syria but I had to, for the women, for my girls.”
Waed, Muna, and Ibrahim are among more than 500,000 Syrians who, having fled the fighting, are now living in Jordan. Eighteen people reside in their current home, an apartment built for one or two.
Waed and her family are typical of many Syrian families in Jordan. Not all of them have been registered as refugees, so they’re not receiving sufficient assistance. They do not have permits to work. They fled Syria with nothing but each other. They live day by day, getting food where they can, and waiting on phone calls from family they left behind. With medical costs far exceeding their means, they fear getting sick.
“I’m in debt because of everyone’s medicines,” says Ibrahim. “But still, what can we do? We cannot afford milk for Muna so we give her juice. What can we do?”
Their home contains thin mattresses, blankets, kitchenware, and not much else. These items were donated by neighbors, or their landlord. Everyone sleeps together, spread across two rooms. Their running water is a trickle. In the heat, they have no way of keeping their precious food fresh, and much of it is wasted.
“What kind of life is this?” asks Ibrahim angrily, waving his arms around. “We had good lives in Syria before.” Muna tugs at his leg and his face softens. He picks her up and nudges her cheek with his nose.
Most international media on refugees in Jordan depicts families in camps. Approximately two-thirds of Syrian refugees in Jordan, however, are living invisible lives in host communities. Daily, and out of the spotlight, they try to process their past experiences while dealing with the insecurities of their present.
“When there are fireworks outside, for celebrations, Muna is terrified,” says Waed. Her father adds: “And us; the grown-ups. We are terrified also.”
There is quiet for a moment, but then Ibrahim laughs. Muna has latched onto his arm, giggling. She is trying to snatch the soda he is drinking.
“I wish that my kids and grandkids will live in peace; that they will not be affected by violence,” he says. "I wish that nobody will be scared anymore. I wish that we will go home.”
World Vision has been working in host communities in Jordan, distributing food parcels and facilitating remedial education classes for children who have missed precious years of school. The organization is urgently appealing for more funds as it works to alleviate suffering for vulnerable children and families in Jordan.
* * *
Make a one-time donation to help World Vision provide emergency assistance for Syrian refugees. Your donation will help us provide basic hygiene kits and food vouchers for refugee families, as well as established Child-Friendly Spaces to provide affected children with a safe place to play, learn, and interact with their peers.
Please join us in prayer for all World Vision staff members working around the world, particularly in this region of conflict.